Every now and then, I remember why I am so fond of tech. This is true story.
Tonight we had a major snowstorm (likewise the rest of Europe, I hear); it started at about 2PM and until now it shows no signs of stopping – the 40cm we have so far on the ground are more than enough to make traffic just go crazy. It took me about 4 hours to come home, and most people I spoke to had a similar misfortune. However, my son was a little worse than that.
His commute takes him through the northeast strip, the busiest area around Milano: the highway being all but blocked, he decides to try his luck and abandons it for a side road. After maybe 6 or 7 kilometers, the slow progress grinds to a halt.
It’s 9PM, outside temperature is -6 °C and dropping, and it’s snowing like hell.
One, then two hours go by, nobody can move; when I call him, I can tell he’s beginning to panic, wondering what he’ll do when he runs out of gas. I make inquiries to the local police and to the Traffic Authority, but they tell me they honestly have no idea how long it’s going to take to clear that stretch of road.
How do I help him? Having no physical means of support, I look up the actual road through Google Streetview – inquiring about signposts and advertising banners, I am able to pinpoint the exact location where he is, which looks like this:
Now, this side road is a bad one to get stuck: a ditch separates the road from the fields on the right hand side, and a New Jersey barrier on the left makes it impossible to do U-turns; I suggest he talks to other people about the possibility of removing a barrier, but they are way too heavy; I then pan the Streetview image and see this:
Being dark and traveling very slowly on unfamiliar roads, he hadn’t even noticed he went up and down a low bridge with ramps on either side. A little exploration on foot reveals that backing up in the incoming ramp is not too difficult, and about one hour later he’s safely home, if very tired.
For all I know, the people without an Internet connection are still freezing their butts off over there…