Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Am An Idiot

I don't know if you heard, but we got a little snow the day after Christmas.  I was in New York for Christmas and my birthday, about an hour north of Manhattan where Joe and a few of my cousins live.  When we got word Christmas day about how much snow was coming, I got a little nervous and decided to head for home on the 26th instead of staying through the 28th as originally planned.  Significant snowfall wasn't expected until 7:00 or 8:00 the night of the 26th so I figured I'd be able to make the 2 hour 45 minute trip back to Philly no problem.  I'd be ahead of the storm and could avoid potentially being stranded in New York. 

Let's all keep in mind there was no reason for this urge to get home other than impatience and irrational panic.  The storm was Sunday.  I don't have to be back at work until Wednesday.  Plenty of time for the roads to be cleared following the storm.  But in spite of logic and sense I took to the highway around 2:00 pm on Sunday.  Snow was already falling.  Usually not a big deal.  But it was only about 23 degrees outside and it started sticking and piling up fast.  I was stupidly stubborn and decided I would and could get all the way home so I kept going despite the glaring evidence that this was completely moronic.  Meanwhile, my family was warm and cozy in their pj's in New York, watching the snow fall and eating homemade mint chocolate chip cookies.  I am an idiot.

I was okay despite only being able to hit about 35 mph because of how fast the snow had collected on the highway.  Slow and steady, I thought.  Then I got a little freaked when an SUV next to me spun out and narrowly missed slamming into me.  I watched it in my rear view mirror go spinning across the Garden State Parkway.  Luckily I think it missed all the on-coming traffic, but it scared the crap out of me.  If an SUV can't handle it, then chances are my little Civic Hybrid is in trouble.  I slowed down even more.  Then I passed a car on the other side of the highway which had obviously slid on the snow and ended up headfirst in a ditch.  I could already see the lights of emergency vehicles heading towards it.  By now I was going about 20 and my hands were hurting from gripping the steering wheel out of stress.  Then it started to get dark.  I was on 95 by then.  My windshield wipers were so packed with snow and ice that using them was only making it worse.  I couldn't see anything.  The highway was almost impassable.  There were no plows or salt trucks out because the storm was only just starting.  I still had another 80 miles to go.  I gave up.  Pulled off the highway and checked into a Holiday Inn Express in Edison, NJ which luckily had 4 rooms left. 

It was 5:30.  I had no food and hadn't eaten anything since breakfast.  I got two bags of chips from the vending machines and polished off the box of chocolates Joe's dad had given me for Christmas.  I also had no toothpaste or contact solution.  I didn't have my boots with me and hadn't put my trusty snow shovel in my trunk yet where it usually lives during the winter.  Did I mention I am not bright?

The next morning, I woke up praying the roads had been cleared.  I forgot temporarily that I would have to dig out my car from three feet of snow before I could even find out.  I borrowed a shovel from the hotel and started digging.  Strangely, there was a group of Japanese tourists staying at the hotel and they apparently thought this whole thing was just so fun.  They were in the parking lot laughing and taking pictures.  One of the guys in their group took pity on me, took the shovel from me, and started digging.  I borrowed a broom and helped the process by getting all the snow off the top of the car.  He didn't like how I did that either and soon took that over too. 

Then an older gentleman with a cane asked for help.  Turns out he was a Franciscan brother who had been in Connecticut visiting his nieces for Christmas.  I started digging out his car while the Japanese guy was digging out mine.  I was happy to help but I also had to because refusing assistance to a handicapped Franciscan brother is pretty much stamping your one-way ticket to hell.  He said he'd say a Rosary for me.  I will take it.  Then the Japanese guy came over and helped me finish digging out Brother John Paul.  I should mention that the rest of the Japanese tourists took pictures the whole time.  Then asked me to pose with them for pictures.  Somewhere in a Japanese scrapbook will be a permanent memento of how stupid I am.  I made sure Brother John Paul could get his car out and then I helped him carry his bags from his room to the car.  I still had 80 miles to go and needed all the Rosaries I could get. 

The roads were not great, but I was determined not to spend another night in a hotel.  Only one lane on 95 was driveable in some sections and the wind blowing all the snow around caused near white-out conditions in other parts, but I made it.  Safe and sound and in one piece and about 23 hours after I left. 

Although, once home, I did have to shovel about three feet of snow out of my parking space so I could park.  Again though, a nice young man appeared out of nowhere with a giant shovel and offered to help.  He had that parking spot cleared for me in no time. 

This drive was the mistake that keeps on giving though, because today my car felt like it was dragging something.  I got on my hands and knees and peeked under the car.  The entire undercarriage was sagging, weighed down with snow and ice.  It was touching the road and looked like it was about to fall off.  I freaked out and took it straight to the dealership.  Apparently the drive through all that snow broke four clips holding up the undercarriage.  They cleared all the snow and ice stuck under my car and fixed it.  They only charged me $12 for the new clips. 

I am an idiot.  But am very, very grateful for the kindness of strangers with shovels and Brothers who say Rosaries and mechanics who take pity on morons.  And for my little Civic Hybrid which didn't spin out once and trekked through all that snow and got me home warm and safe.  I hope everyone else got through equally lucky and hope kindness found everyone else that needed it.  Even if it was required simply as a result of sheer stupidity.  Next time, I will stay put and eat cookies.


d&d said...

i. i have no words.