Editor’s Note: Introducing Kat Haselkorn, an author, founder of the DC dating blog UnemployedKat and matchmaker with Three Day Rule. She’ll be among the contributors for Commuter Crush, a new feature discussing how Washington’s commute can affect dating and relationships. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and semi-embarrassed. Commuter Crush will be published every Friday, just in time for your unintentional weekend hookups. If you have stories to share, use #commutercrush on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Enjoy!
My good friend L who lives in Ashburn had recently met a new guy she was really excited about. They worked in the same office building in Northwest DC and had started commuting to work together occasionally. Being a total gentleman, he’d pick her up at 7 am (usually with a fresh cup of coffee waiting for her in the cupholder) and whisk her into the city. They’d chat, listen to music and enjoy each other’s company before the chaos of the day.
Then at 4:30 pm, she’d pop by his office and they’d head back into the suburbs together.
Typically, this commute lasted all of 30-45 minutes each way. If you hit Chain Bridge before 5 pm and catch the toll road just right, the traffic moves fine—so they rarely had to sit through anything too miserable.
But on one snowy day last winter, the Office of Personnel Management failed to cancel work despite warnings of a severe afternoon storm brewing. At 3 pm, when the weather started to turn nasty, L raced down to her boyfriend’s office to hit the road before it got any worse.
Turns out the rest of the city had the same idea after OPM finally decided to release workers two hours early. And the Carmaggedon snowstorm of 2011 was born.
Cars flooded roads and highways. Commuters stuffed themselves into every space they could find on Metrorail trains. And, for our heroes, traffic was gridlocked trying to get into Virginia.
They inched their way down Arizona Avenue and over Chain Bridge, then breezed through the toll plaza on VA-267, only to come to a complete standstill about a mile onto the highway. The icy roads and low visibility had led to multiple collisions and cars were barely able to get by.
They had a full tank of gas and a couple water bottles in the backseat. Rather than panic, they continued to chat and wait out the mess. The hours ticked by.
Three hours after leaving work, L started squirming.
“You have to pee?” her boyfriend asked, concerned.
“Ummmm… a little,” she told him. It was actually more urgent: L had started her period the day before and they had raced out of the office so quickly, she wasn’t able to change her tampon before they hit the road.
She was counting backwards trying to remember how long it had been in. Too long. She needed to change it ASAP or risk ruining her work pants and potentially the passenger seat of his car.
“Look,” she began, “I know this is the last thing you want to hear, but I’m about two minutes away from a period disaster… I need to change my tampon and I don’t know what to do.”
The traffic hadn’t budged in more than an hour and it was unclear how much longer they’d be stuck on 267.
Her boyfriend was completely nonplussed. “Just hop in the backseat and do what you need to do,” he told her. “I won’t look.”
Somewhat placated, she eased herself into the back, conducted an acrobatic tampon change, stuffed the trash in an empty Chick-fil-a cup and returned to the front.
“Thank you for not being completely grossed out about that,” she told her boyfriend.
“It’s totally natural,” he reassured her. “Seriously, no biggie.”
They sat there, listening to music, snacking on m&ms she found in her purse, and waiting for the road to clear. They didn’t return to Ashburn until 10 pm. He dropped her off at her house with a wave and a kiss, and told her he’d see her again soon.
She realized, if you can change your tampon in front of your boyfriend without him puking, he just might be The One. Despite her embarrassment, he was completely unfazed. She recognized what an amazing man he was and found herself envisioning a future with him for the first time. L had only known him for a few weeks, but she’d never met anyone so kind, understanding and calm under pressure. She felt the first flutters of love.
It wasn’t an ideal early date, but that hellish commute solidified something wonderful.
By the following winter, they were married.
If you have any commuting-related love stories you’d like to share, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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