All across the Midwest this morning, dozens of people had a very similar experience to mine: we all got stuck in the snow, and were subsequently rescued, one way or another.
My version of the story goes a little something like this:
I got up just a little early this morning, knowing that I’d be heading outside to somewhere between three and six inches of snow. (The official count for last night and this morning was four inches.) Made it out to the car earlier than usual, but around the time I should really leave to get to work on time in good weather. (Did I mention that I’m chronically late in the mornings? But you knew that already, didn’t you?) Brushed the snow off the car, scraped the windshield, got back into a relatively toasty-warm car, and backed out the driveway.
And promptly got stuck at the bottom.
See, not only does the city never plow our street, but our one-year-old Kia Forte is sporting the all-season performance tires from the factory, which makes for a poor winter driving combination. Add to that the fact that I always try to power out of the driveway without shoveling, and it’s unsurprising that we occasionally have winter driving troubles. (Except for the fact that our old Spectra was a real champ in snow, and only got stuck in 6-inch-plus drifts.)
Next step: e-mail the boss from my iPhone. “My car’s stuck in the snow in the street in front of my house, since the city rarely plows my street unless 2ft of snow falls,” I wrote. “I’m going to do some shoveling and see if I can get it free. I’ll keep you posted.”
I did my usual getting-unstuck tricks: turn the wheel right, go forward, go reverse. Turn it left, try forward, try reverse. Try pulsing the accelerator and rocking. Try putting it in neutral and getting out to push.
What didn’t I try? Waking up my husband to help. I didn’t want to wake him up in the middle of the “night,” since his schedule is so different from mine.
E-mailed the boss again: “I guess my car’s going to stay stuck for a while longer. For now, I’ll plan to be in for a half day, but I’ll let you know if I get unstuck sooner.” I knew I’d at least get the car out once Aaron got up, but I must admit that visions of a snow day were dancing in my head.
So, what to do until then? How about shoveling the driveway while waiting for inspiration to strike?
In my work clothes. And my gloves with the hole worn in the ring finger — which works out well for iPhone usage, but not so much for being out in sub-freezing temps for extended periods of time. Even now, twelve hours later, the pad of my left-hand ring finger isn’t quite back to normal.
As I shoveled, I’d get ideas: how about throwing some ice melt under the tires? How about making sure the front bumper isn’t stuck on the lip of the driveway? And I’d take a break to try my new ideas, but only be rewarded with the smell of burning rubber and the knowledge that I should stop before I ruined our tires.
Finally, once I got the driveway cleared, I saw the garbage truck coming up the road. I’d been dreading this, since I wasn’t sure if he’d have enough clearance to pick up our garbage with his mechanical truck arm or to turn around in the dead-end. I headed down to the car armed with the shovel, to pretend to hack out the front tires some more.
Luckily, he had no problem emptying our trash can. In fact, once he got our trash, he stepped out of the truck and asked if I was stuck.
“Yeah, for about an hour,” I replied.
He graciously offered to help, and asked for my keys. I knew he wasn’t going to abscond with my Kia and leave his garbage truck in the street, so I handed him the keys and let him give it a go while I watched. I hadn’t turned off the anti-skid feature, though, so only one tire was spinning, trying to get traction. We traded spots and he pushed from the front as I pulsed it in reverse — and finally, FINALLY, it moved into the street. I got out of the car and waved him a thank-you as he hopped back into his truck, and I headed up the driveway to get my purse and lunch (and to e-mail my boss that I was unstuck).
As I walked up the driveway toward the house, I looked back to see the garbage truck off-road it up into the empty field across the street and make a giant turnaround in the snow and grass, no problem. I laughed aloud.
Came back, put the car into drive — stuck AGAIN?
I’m pretty sure I yelled aloud in the car, “What the FUCK?!”
Got out a few times, cleared away the few inches of snow in the road around the tires, put it in reverse and drive and back, and finally got going.
Final departure time: 9:15am.
The roads actually weren’t so bad en route to work. Of course, as soon as I got going, I noticed that the idiot light for Low Tire Pressure was on, so I stopped into the nearest gas station (close to the $1.00-per-use-quarters-only air pump) to double-check that no real harm was done to my tires. After doing a twice-around on the car, I was pretty sure it was complaining about the tire that had been doing most of the spinning and smoking in the street; it wasn’t dangerously low, or even really noticeably low, if I hadn’t been looking for it.
It’s really hard for me to ignore idiot lights, though. I got to work just fine — and home, too — but that light was screaming at me the whole time. If the $1 air pump had an air pressure gauge on it, I might have ponied up the coin and aired up the tires. As it was, I let it go. I’ve driven on lower.
But, yeah. I got to work a little late, and a bit cold and irritated, but safe.
Aaron was surprised to see the driveway shoveled when he got up! He texted me around lunchtime and asked exactly what had happened (after seeing my tweets) and gave me permission to wake him up in case of emergency in the future. Which I really should have thought to do, but I wanted to be all independent or something, I guess.
Nice start to winter — and it’s not even technically winter yet.