Friday, December 19, 2008

Pushing My Luck

By Nichole Giles

A few days ago, my friend Cindy offered to help me pray for a little snow, because even though the towns around us were getting piles, we had none. So, I took her up on her offer, and Cindy prayed. Now, in case you’re wondering about my motivation (if you know me, you’re scratching your head wondering if someone spiked my Dr. Pepper—I usually hate snow) it all has to do with snowball launchers, specialty sleds and Santa…Anyway, yesterday I asked her to please stop praying. The grass was covered and the air clean—the light blanket we received was plenty as far as I was concerned. Cindy claimed she would stop. But the snow kept falling.

This morning I woke up to a pure white world. White roads, white trees, white cars, white houses, and people covered in cold, slushy, white. I thought it was pretty at the time. As luck goes, this morning my husband and I both had appointments in different cities, meaning one of us could drive the four-wheel-drive truck, and one would have to brave the unplowed roads in my Mustang. Uh oh.

More luck dictated that since Gary’s appointment was twenty miles away and mine was only a mile and a half, the person driving the sports car (with no, none, nada traction) would be me. Bummer.

Now, this is not a complaint, mind you. I love my car every day of the year. I just don’t drive her in the snow. She’s made for sunshine, not slush. Snow is bad for her health.

But today…

So Gary left for his appointment, and a little while later, it was nearly time for mine. I purposefully prepared to leave fifteen minutes earlier than I normally would—to allow for driving in snow conditions. When I opened the garage door to snow taller than my bumper, I should have closed it right back down and stayed home.

But my nails were in need of serious repair. So I put the Mustang (aka Squeak) in reverse and slid down the driveway, glad I had a large space for sliding and nothing to crash into.

Getting stuck at the bottom of my own driveway should have been the second sign telling me I really should just stay home. But after living in Utah for seventeen-odd years, I’m finally getting better at getting my car unstuck—or, sort of. I turned the wheel right and punched the gas, then turned the wheel left and punched the gas. After repeating this several times, I reversed again and realized I could gain traction going backward. So, I backed down the street until I felt a little snag in the ice, and then I shifted to drive. My tires spun and I repeated my wheel turning motion until—after ten minutes of struggling—I finally got out of my neighborhood. The fact that I backed most of the way was irrelevant.

Yes! I was on my way. I ignored the nagging little fear lodging in my brain telling me my own driveway was the easy part, and slowly made my way to a busier street—certain that snowplows and SUV’s would have cleared away at least some of the snow.

Not so. The first traffic light held me up a little, as I slid around hoping to gain purchase and NOT be stuck in the middle of the intersection, but I made it through and was able to join the other crazy people who were braving the weather. Slowly and with caution I inched my way through the second light—trying not to crane my neck to see the flashing lights of emergency vehicles to my right. Other people were not so lucky as me. At the last minute, someone driving a compact car from the other direction decided to turn—right in front of me. I slammed on my breaks. Slide, slide sliiiiiiiiide.

I said some not-so-nice words, referring to a lack of brain cells in the crazy woman’s head, and missed sliding into her by a fraction of an inch. Another sign? Not to me!

Switching on some Christmas music, I plowed forward. Slipping and sliding for the entire mile and a half, and thirty minutes after leaving my house, I parked, brushing snow out of my hair as I ran for the building.

When I was through, I said to my friend Anet, “I hope I’m not stuck in your parking lot.” And laughing, jumped in my car. Duh. Did I jinx myself? No way. I got out of the parking lot. And got stuck on the street.

I turned my wheel this way and that, backed up, moved forward, and rocked my car. All the old tricks except having someone push the car. Luckily, a man in a tractor had come to plow the parking lot. He jumped out of the tractor and single handedly pushed me out of a bank of snow I was now lodged in. “Thanks!” I yelled as I drove away, not daring to stop again. I took the long way home, afraid to make a u-turn on the ice. The long way took me past two gas stations where a sudden, overwhelming thirst dictated my next decision.

The drive through window beckoned.

Without thought, the wheel turned and before I realized what I was doing, my tires spun at the bottom of another parking lot. As soon as I realized this, I turned the wheel in the other direction and maneuvered myself out of that parking lot, and across the street to the other one. But I should have known better. I was pushing my luck already.

I slid into a parking stall thinking, As long as I can go backwards, I’m fine.

But I wasn’t fine. I was good and stuck. After three large men and one woman pushed me out of the stall, I slid backwards into another one. My engine revved and my tires spun, but to no avail. The people around me laughed.

“That car shouldn’t be out in this weather,” said a man.

Yeah, I thought. I know.

“You should get some rock salt for your trunk.”

“Good idea,” I agreed. “Or maybe I should go home and be done for the day.”

As a second set of people tried to push me out, a woman I knew stopped in her SUV.
“Looks like you’re stuck,” she said.

Really? I thought. You think? But I said, “Yep.”

“If you want to leave your car, I’ll take you home.”

That was the best idea I’d heard yet. I turned off the engine, and left the car where it was, parked sideways but mostly out of the way—sort of. Three hours later, as Gary sat at the wheel and four people pushed the hood, he said, “Hm. I think you might need some snow tires.”

Really? I thought. You think?

And I drove home in the warm, four-wheel-drive truck and didn’t leave my house again except to get my kids from school. The moral of the story is, never ask your friends to pray for snow.

Epilogue: I wondered if my poor little Squeak would have to be left at the gas station until the spring thaw. Oh the torture! But Gary was able to get her going and take her home to her warm garage—where she will stay until the snow melts. She is, after all, a sun car.


Stephanie Humphreys said...

Glad you made it home safely. Sounds like Santa needs to bring you a good set of snow tires. Living where we do, we can't survive without good snow tires on both vehicles.

Nichole Giles said...

Yeah, I emailed Santa about that very thing. But then, since Santa knows all, he probably already figured it out.

Thanks for commenting!


Tristi Pinkston said...

So we have Cindy to blame ... I mean, thank ... for all this? :)