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SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

One must make certain basic preparations for a snowstorm.


1. Go to the grocery store. Buy eggs, bread and milk.

I’m not sure why. Groceries, sure, but why those three? Wouldn’t it be better to buy frozen pizzas and TV dinners? In my house, the only warm during winter is hovering over the stove. Why not kill two birds with one stone, and heat up a meal? Throwing a dozen eggs in the oven won’t have the same effect. Have you ever tried to bake eggs? Doesn’t work.

I suppose you could take them out of the shell.

2. Go to the video store. Rent enough DVD’s for a movie marathon, plus games for the kids. If you get snowed in, you don’t want to be forced to actually communicate with your family. Sure, you could play cards, or a board game, or sit around and talk. You could do crafts together, or teach your kids to cook, or maybe you could all go outside to make a snowman.

Nah.

Where’s the fun of that, when you could watch a totally non-interactive movie while the kids kill zombies in the next room? Let’s not get crazy with this whole family thing.

3. Dial 911 and ask for road conditions, or whether there’s a snow emergency declaration. Do not, under any circumstances, try to determine road conditions by opening your curtains and actually looking out at the road. Do not check the weather by turning on the radio or TV. If you have the internet, avoid the dozens of weather related websites. Remember, it’s just a major snowstorm; dispatchers are surely not going to be too busy to answer fifty-seven thousand phone calls.

4. If you do hear a snow emergency declaration, or a major weather alert, immediately go out to see for yourself what the roads are like. If you have a four wheel drive – especially an SUV – go the speed limit on those roads. Remember, the National Weather Service doesn’t make laws, just suggestions.

5. If you get stuck in conditions so bad that even your four wheel drive can’t bust through the drifts, call 911 again. Demand that they come pull you out right now. Oh, and before you travel, remove any blankets, sand, snow shovels, food, or water from your vehicle. They’ll just slow you down.

6. If you’re an employer, tell your employees that they must come to work, regardless of the weather, or else. This will be a good test of their loyalty.

Do I seem a bit sarcastic?

Oh, don’t get me wrong – I no winter genius. I don’t go out until I have to, I slow down, and I feel suitably embarrassed if I get stuck – but I do get stuck. Last year I got stuck in the fire station parking lot – it’s always worse with witnesses who know you.

Last month, the rate of snowfall was heavier than usual, the wind stronger, and from a different direction than normal. As I left work, wind and snow combined into a whiteout that made it impossible for me to see how much snow was in my way. But I figured, what the heck – how bad could it be?

Seriously, I actually said that.

Over the years I’ve developed a method to gets into my driveway, at least far enough to shovel the rest of the way to my garage. I pull forward into the bank drive across the street, then back up at full speed and plow my way past that drifting spot. You see, I live on a state highway, and backing onto a state highway is always a bad idea; so when the snow’s too deep for me to turn around in my own driveway, I back in, instead. It works. Usually.
The bank drive had not been cleared; it was early Sunday. The state plows hadn’t been able to clear the entire width of my street, so for all intents my driveway was about six feet longer than usual. Also, I had a tailwind.

But I gave it my best shot.



The next thing I knew, half my car was in my drive, which meant it was actually in the parking lane of the street, while the other half stuck out into the travel portion. I experimentally shifted gears.

A big four wheel drive truck with a snow blade stopped in the other lane. At first I thought he was going to help, then I realized he wanted to make sure I didn’t make it out and sideswipe him as he went by. Also, he was laughing hysterically. Once certain he was in no danger, he drove on. But hey, he gave me a friendly wave.

Well, that’s what I had that old snow shovel in my back seat for. I grabbed the door latch, and shoved. Nothing happened.

I was trapped in a white car, in whiteout conditions, sideways in the middle of a state highway, my doors blocked by three feet of snow.

And that, dear readers, is how I damaged both the inside and outside of my car door. Next time you see someone on TV kicking their door open, be assured there’s some prop guy making it look easy.

You’ve never seen anyone shovel snow as fast as I shoveled, while people in the four wheel drives, who I usually make fun of, drove by and laughed. Hysterically. I shoveled myself off the highway, onto the drive, then onto the pad in front of my garage.

Then I remembered that I’d never cleaned up the piles of stuff my daughter left in the garage when she moved in over the summer. So I shoved everything against the walls of a building designed for horses, (actually, one horse) inched the car inside, and eventually squeezed my way out of the car. Then I collapsed in the snow, laughing hysterically, until the first back spasm hit.

The moral of the story: Don’t make fun of four wheel drive truck drivers in a public forum. Or, buy a snowblower. Whichever.


Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
elizalavelle
Dec. 27th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
LOL Fantastic writing as always, and timely too as a snow storm just started here in the last 10 minutes! Must go buy some eggs ;)
ozma914
Dec. 28th, 2007 06:31 am (UTC)
Yes, for Heaven's sake, don't get caught without eggs! I bought a dozen on the first day of winter, just to make sure I'd always have some around. :->
lmzjewel
Dec. 27th, 2007 02:52 pm (UTC)
This is hilarious. (:

I live in the South where not many folks know how to drive in bad weather. You know there are people who actually own Hummers who don't know how to drive them in inclement conditions. My husband has actually seen this when he goes to work in bad weather. We don't get alot of snow down here but when we do it shuts alot of things down and everyone makes a mad dash to the grocery store.

I lived in Michigan till I was sixteen but I never learned how to drive in bad snowy conditions. I feel the best contribution I can make is to just stay off the roads in bad snowy weather. I remember my dad having to get up early enough to shovel himself out of the driveway in the morning to go to work.

LMZ
ozma914
Dec. 28th, 2007 06:38 am (UTC)
I hate to say it, but sometimes we laugh at people in southern states when they have an inch of snow and it brings all of society to a grinding halt. However, while we are generally better at driving in snow, in a way that makes our bad drivers even worse: They should know better!
enigmaticblues
Dec. 27th, 2007 11:21 pm (UTC)
LOL! Oh, poor Mark. I'm sure I would do something similar.
ozma914
Dec. 28th, 2007 06:39 am (UTC)
I suppose I get stuck once a year, on average ... it's nice to have traditions. :-)
skeeterbug00
Dec. 30th, 2007 10:24 am (UTC)
Apparently those three are staples in your diets. Of course, I would buy some bottled water in case the pipes freeze, but, hey, they're right, eggs are more important than water.

My favorite was number four. I take it you speak from experience? Bonus points if they do number five after the dispatcher tells them there's a snow emergency. EXTRA bonus points if they get the same dispatcher when they call to get help.

*laughs* I have a theory. Those guys in four wheel drives? The first one read your articles and got mad and decided to hunt you down. Upon seeing you, he decided you were suffering enough but couldn't resist calling all of his four wheel driving friends.

Anyway, we all do stupid stuff like that. Mine was when I drove home from band practice when it was pouring rain and their couldn't have been for that 10% visibility because I didn't want to miss curfew. A lesson to parents there ;)
ozma914
Dec. 31st, 2007 09:21 am (UTC)
Well, you can always melt snow for water -- except I wouldn't want to go outside for that. I'm spoiled, because I've never had pipes freeze *knocks on wood*, but that's something to think about.

Yep, everyone up here is experienced with 4X4 owners who think their trucks make them immortal. None of them will recognize themselves in this column, of course. Meanwhile, your theory may very well be correct. Since I know so many people in the emergency services, and probably 90% of them own four wheel drives, I really should be more careful of what I say.

You have my permission to be late for curfew, if it keeps you from driving in the crap! :-)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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