* where I try to write a dramatic piece.
** contains mention of bodily functions.
It started off like a usual weekend. The 4 hour drive down to see the spouse had been uneventful- the roads were clean, temperature in the 30s, the sun out with enough force for me to wear my favorite open toed red shoes instead of boots. We had a wonderful time.
My car’s service engine light came on, and I decided to get it checked out before heading back home. At the dealership, I ogled the Juke while listening to the weather forecast about rain and possible snow. ‘I better make it home before it gets too cold.’
We had crepes for lunch. Then I visited folks at my residency program. By the time I left, the clouds were gathering.
The drive between the two cities is almost all interstate, going up and down and around the hills. I drove right at the speed limit, trying to make the most of remaining daylight. It was raining hard and visibility was poor, but I felt fine, covering the first 150 miles without any problems. By then, it was dark.
Suddenly, I noticed several cars in the right lane, all with their hazard lights on, moving slowly. My lane was completely empty. I slowed down to a crawl, and then moved in behind them. There was a pile-up on the shoulder. No one seemed to have been hurt. Leading our column of blinking cars, there was large vehicle with flashing yellow lights. I looked around for an explanation, and the car in front of me skidded neatly to the right, almost hitting one of the parked cars.
‘Crap.’ The rain had changed into ice pellets. I slowed down further, increasing the distance from the car in front. We rolled along for a while. There were several police cars and other vehicles parked along the interstate.
Lanes were no longer visible. Traffic was divided into three- our column of slow moving cars, cars parked/stuck in the snow on the right, and the occasional daredevil who would go speeding by in the left lane, spraying us all with flying ice before skidding off in some odd direction.
The exit to the parkway never seemed so welcome. By this time, I was trailing a large cargo truck. There was an SUV behind me. We crawled on to the exit, and promptly got stuck. I waited. And waited. The guy in front of me turned off his lights. The guy behind me got out and started cleaning his windshield. I watched the snow accumulate around us. I tweeted. Then I stuck my head out the window to yell at him.
‘Do you know what’s going on?’
‘Well, there are two semis blocking the exit. The trucks are trying to move them, but its not working. They ran out of salt. I don’t know how long its gonna take.’
Then I felt the one sensation you hope never to feel when you’re stuck on an interstate exit with nowhere to go- an urge to pee. The first thing that came to mind was diapers. (Working in Geriatrics will do that.) Of course, I had no diapers.
‘Crap Crap Crap.’
The spouse was on the speaker phone with me constantly now. I charged my phone. I heated the car, then turned it off. Wait ten minutes, repeat. I moved the car back and forth a few feet, trying to keep it from getting stuck. Then I ate a piece of string cheese. Then I waited some more.
If you’re ever stuck in a car with an urge to pee and nowhere to go, you can totally pee in an empty coffee cup.
A small white car came skidding down in the snow and went down all the way to where the semis were. Then it got stuck, too.
The guy in the car behind me went down to talk to the plough-trucks, then trudged back up. I rolled my window down.
‘If you see those cars down there go through, give it a shot. Remember, go slow, go steady, and don’t stop.’
I may owe him my life.
After about an hour, they moved one of the semis. One by one, we drove through. I saw more pile-ups, police cars, rescue vehicles and stranded cars that I ever have. Driving at a determined pace of 10 miles per hour, I made it into the city.
Navigating the ramp up the driveway to my apartment was impossible. I parked my car on the street, grabbed the essentials and walked around the block in twelve inches of snow, feeling a little sorry for my shoes. A student was trying to park her car, wheels spinning in the snow, about to run into the metal fence. I told her to leave it there until the morning. Then I went home.