Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ice ice baby

I was on call yesterday, but by 4.30 I was still sitting at home uncalled, so I decided to go with my sister to a concert. Rocket Club (a country band whose big hit is One Thing Beautiful) was playing at the Cabooze in Minneapolis. My sister, her boss, and a friend of theirs were on the list at the door, because they know the main singer, Chris Hawkey. Lucky for me, they were all on the list with a plus one, so Pam got me in free, too. We sat in a special reserved seating area and everything!

The concert was fantastic. They have great songs, musicians, and singers, and so much energy it's unbelievable. Chris came over to say a quick hi before we left, so I got to meet him, and he warned us, "Be careful, it's really icy out there."

Every car in the lot was covered in ice. The ground was like a skating rink. And it was still precipitating.

We walked about three steps and Pam's boss fell (turns out cowboy boots have ZERO traction), conveniently running right into Pam's legs, who fell on top of her. I hadn't realized how slippery it was until they were both suddenly on the ground, because I happened to be wearing rubber shoes; lucky me. Pam got up, but her boss couldn't get a grip on the ice with her boots. A nice man saw her struggling (and saw Pam and I making no effort to help, because we already knew we'd just end up on the ground, too), walked confidently over to give her a hand, and promptly ended up on his ass.

It took about ten minutes for me, Pam, and my defrosters to clean the ice off my car. Our twenty-minute drive back to Pam's house took us over an hour. Traffic was STOPPED getting on to 394. There was a semi stopped in the middle lane. As we were passing on the left, we saw a mini van on the right slide right into the back corner of the truck. What do you do when that happens? What can you do? You're just stuck.

The exit for Pam's apartment is a sharp turn that I take slow even in the best of conditions. Last night I took it at about three miles per hour. A car came up next to me at the stoplight; fine, no big deal, we'll take the turn slowly and be fine. The other car let me take the lead, so I turned slooowly, slooooowly, up the hill.... and got stuck. I started sliding backwards, so I hit the brakes. Luckily there was enough room for the other car to get past me, which it managed just fine. I started backing down the hill so I could try again. Nothing. Back up more. No going forward, just sliding. More cars showed up at the light, so I backed all the way out of the way and put my hazards on. They left, I kept backing up. A car came up behind me, so i let it pass. It got to the top of the hill that was my nemesis, stopped, and the guy got out, walked back, and asked if he could help us at all. Sweet offer, but how the hell do you push a car when there's no traction to be had? We thanked him, sent him on his way, and kept trying.

Eventually I backed up enough to be able to get into the left lane, which seemed the better choice, as all the cars in that lane were getting through fine. I managed to start moving forward at a crawl. I told Pam the light better turn green, because I was going through it regardless. It turned green, no other cars showed up, and I made it up the hill and finally let out my breath.

I decided I was never leaving the house again.

(Of course, I got a call this afternoon for a flight this evening. But the roads seem to be much better, so I'm sure I'll be fine.)

When we finally got parked last night, we had to go up an icy flight of stairs; we felt like mountaineers, holding on to the railings for dear life. We had hot chocolate and toast when we came in to try to calm down. My hands were shaking, and my arms hurt from gripping the steering wheel.

I guess it's winter now.

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