Can Your Business Survive a Snowstorm?

I had to teach the class. There really wasn’t any alternative, and when we left the ‘Bow, the sun was shining, and the roads were bare and dry, all the way to Laramie (about 60 miles of open road).

Alex had a doctor’s appointment, so we took care of that, did some shopping, through more fine weather. Just as we parked outside the campus to unload our equipment, the snow started to fly. It came down hard and heavy until it was time for the class to start, after which it stopped.

When it was time to go home, the roads were still bare and dry on the Laramie end, but they were closed. No traffic allowed through. I-80 was also closed. Highway 487 was closed as well. All roads into Medicine Bow were locked down.

We hoped they would open. They did not. It got late, and I got hungry again, so we had a late dinner, then went to find a hotel. Rates in the Laramie area have recently almost doubled. So an $80 room was pretty awful. I didn’t mind the walls that were patched and repainted. I didn’t mind the obviously worn bedframes. I did mind the mattress that had seen better years, and I minded the partially functional heater that kept us in a state of not-quite-sleep through a very long night. I woke at about 6:00 in the morning, unable to bear the discomfort in my legs anymore, and with a nasty headache creeping in around my eyes – doubtless from sleeping without my CPAP mask. I got online, and checked the roads, just before my laptop gave me a low battery warning. I had not thought to pack the adapter, we had only intended to use it a little.

Kevin awoke about 2 hours later. He figured we’d get on the road early. I had to inform him that the roads were still closed. We called the kids, called a friend to check on them – she said that the ‘Bow was a white-out. It was still sunny and fine in Laramie, though bitter cold. We now faced not only the cost of the night out, but more meals, and the prospect of a day of lost work. With several contracts with urgent work to do, losing a day of work was NOT a good option.

We wandered to Staples to see if they had a power adapter that would work with my laptop. We struck out, but came up with Plan 2 – if absolutely necessary, we’d buy another cheap laptop to get by with until we could get back home. Not our favorite plan. We went up to Wal-Mart to see what they had. Nothing, and the laptop options were more expensive than Staples, so we headed back there. Staples advised us to try Radio Shack. We did.

Two helpful guys at the Laramie Radio Shack went to work on trying to find adapters that worked with our laptops. They opened three different ones to find an adapter that worked with my laptop, and searched to get the correct polarity setting. Then they did the same for Kevin’s. It took them about half an hour to come up wtih a solution for both of us. They also checked the roads for us again – still closed.

We headed up to the college, where I have internet access (as an adjunct instructor). We’ll have to camp out in the lobby there, until the roads open, or we are forced to go get another hotel room – hopefully one more comfortable than the last one. We are checking the roads every half hour or so.

Here is the point… I did not think when we left that we’d end up trapped here for so long. We’ve felt that our business was mobile, but I’ve realized that unless I have a spare power adapter that I can keep in my laptop case, I always run the risk of being caught without if I forget it. A laptop is only as good as the power source.

I’ll be tucking a brush and toothbrush into my case also. This is a situation I do not want to find myself in again, totally unprepared.

It does beg the question, how much is prepared enough? I don’t have the answer to that, but I’m realizing that as our business grows, and more people depend on us, that we have to be able to work from wherever we are, under virtually any circumstances. Less than that puts us in a bind if an emergency happens.

A snowstorm is really only one hazard.

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