Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Way or the Highway

I opened the paper today and saw a picture of my fellow teacher's son having a snowball fight on a local golf course. During school hours. Nothing like getting busted for skipping school by having a color picture on the front page of a large metropolitan newspaper. There is just no spin control for that.

And speaking of snow stories (weren't we?), I think I'm sufficiently recovered from the ice storm of 2007 to tell a little story on myself. The ice was bad enough that year that we actually had a late start to school. I live about 15 miles from my campus, and most of the journey is on elevated toll roads. As I carefully turned on to the entrance, I noticed scattered car parts all over the road. In my rearview mirror, I  spied orange traffic cones laying sideways all over the side of the road. Definition of a nanosecond? The time it took me to realize that the cones had been knocked over by a car sliding on the ice. The cones  that were originally meant to keep drivers from entering the tollroad. That would be drivers like me.

It was too late to stop, and there was no way to back up in all the ice and slush, so I continued up the entrance to the elevated tollroad. I soon  discovered I was now the only car driving on the road. I think the traffic helicopters may have thought I was like O.J. Simpson on the highway. Except  I was driving a purple Ford Escort at that time. I continued alone for another 10 miles of the most terrifying drive of my life. I could see lines of cars on the service roads below. Lines that stretched out for miles. Filled with passengers pointing at me; the lone car on the highway. Even inching along  I was beating them from my elevated position, and I think there may have been some fists shaken at me. I kept my hands at the ten and two positions on the steering wheel and concentrated on staying alive. When I was finally able to exit the highway (10 miles and almost an hour later), I could have kissed the frozen ground. Except I was too stiff from the abject terror of my little journey. I scooted off into the line on the service road, and tried to blend in with other cars who had not just completed the auto version of the Bataan Death March in high elevations. Blending in with a purple car is not easy.

 At least the color photographers for the newspaper are always too busy snapping truant snowball-throwing school children.  (Sorry Jacob. Next time, don't spell your difficult last name for the reporter  It's a sure tip off for Mom.)

I probably would have done the same thing. But  I'd have pulled my hat lower. And totally given my sister's name.


Sarah said...

Ha! I loved the picture you painted. Thank God you were safe. I HATE driving on ice!

I had a similar experience once (1999 or 2000?), though less nerve-wracking. I was driving home from work through downtown Fort Worth during rush hour, and the highway was utterly deserted. I didn't even notice it at first because I was so focused on listening to my audio book.

Suddenly I realized I was alone, and I looked at the sky, which as an odd yellowy gray color. I could also hear the furious chatter of tons of birds. I flipped on the radio and immediately heard one of those disaster recordings, only it wasn't a drill. We were having a tornado!

I was so terrified, but I made it home, about 10 minutes away, without any problems. I hid in the closet with my husband and son until it was safe to come out.

I later found out that I passed through Fort Worth just a couple of minutes before a bunch of giant buildings were seriously damaged.

I felt so stupid and so lucky.

Dawn said...

Wow! I remember that ice storm all too well... we had an ice jam on our roof that caused a major flood in our home once it started to melt. Not fun. But, a whole lot safer than driving on the elevated roads!!! Oh, and no one wanted to take my picture as I was frantically moving furniture and pulling up carpets. Ha.