Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cross Countrypades

You know, Cross Country plus Ice Capades.

 . . . forget it.

Slogging my way in to work this morning, I slowly came to the realization that moving across the country has been grossly unfair.  Mostly for weather-related reasons, although of course first and foremost for leaving my home and family.  Dur.

But the effing weather!  Oh my WTF?

I have to pause for a moment to recount a hysterical scene from a mediocre movie that you most likely haven't seen.  New In Town with Renee Zellweger was so-so, but there was a part at the beginning that was plain ol' awesome.  Renee's character lives in Miami as a big-shot executive, and she gets sent to Minnesota to oversee layoffs and streamlining of a factory.  At the airport, wearing a sweatshirt over her power-skirt-suit, in the dead of winter, she looks out the door at everyone standing in their winter coats, shrugs and says, "How bad could it be?" as she starts carting her luggage out the door.  The automatic doors open, she walks through the atrium, the interior doors close just as she makes it outside and gets blasted by the wind.  You just hear her yell, "Son of a . . . " before the doors close and cut her off, then we watch her almost get blown over by the wind as she gets her cumbersome cart turned around to come back inside.  The interior doors open and you hear the remnants of her swearing dying out as she trudges back in.

Subtract the power-skirt-suit, and that has been me on numerous occasions.

At any rate, despite its appearance, this post is not going to be another "I hate the cold" rant.  I think it's been said enough times.  Although, to be clear, I still get way more than the normal amount of commentary when I wear a coat indoors (apparently that hasn't been said enough).  You'd think, since I'm cold all the time, it would have become commonplace to see me wearing a coat or a sweater or whatever.  But no, I continue to be subjected to the dumbest question imaginable on a consistent basis.  Even the UPS guy says, "Are you cold?" when he sees me wearing a jacket.

Yet this post is about driving.  Surprise!

It is.  We have almost made it through The Winter Blast of 2010.  Wait a second.  That was pathetic.  Do over, and mean it this time!  Use your whole body.  Bring it up from your belly.  Get your shoulders into it.  Tilt your head back when you say the word blast.  Put the ahhh into melodrama.


That's better.  So, THE WINTER BLAAST is drawing to a close (I'm sure we'll still get a FREEZE OUT! and an ARCTIC BLAST and who knows what else).  Yesterday was the worst day so far of this storm, and we were pounded with about 1-48 inches of snow.  I'm only being a little bit silly -- some of the drifts are almost as tall as me.  The snow is up to my waist when I'm walking the dogs.  Yet in other places, where it's especially windy, you see bare pavement.  I'm not really sure what the un-drifted total ended up being . . . maybe 8 inches?

Driving home from work yesterday was kinda scary.  Not shit-your-pants scary, but my hands were locked at 10 and 2, and my the time I got home my shoulders were stiff from being hunched over the steering wheel for so long.  My eyes were dry from not blinking enough.  I saw 5 cars wiped out in the ditch or the center median (if they were in the center median, it was obvious from the tracks in the snow that they were originally driving west (opposite direction as me) and they had spun completely around and were now facing east).  It took over an hour because most of the way I was only going 35 miles per hour.

But the worst part, worse than all that, was this stupid chick driving a green Ford Taurus.  She is the reason women get tagged as bad drivers.  Her hands were at 10 and 2 also, but don't think that will make a darn bit of difference when it comes to sympathy.  At some point "caution" becomes plain stupidity, and I have no compassion for the overly cautious and their crippling idiocy.

I felt fairly comfortable driving 35 miles per hour.  The roads were pretty slushy, but the plows had been out and it was more a static worry about ice than anything else.  Sometimes I even popped up to 40 or 45, and lots of cars were passing me going 60 or more.  Athough they were idiots; most everyone was plugging along at less than 50 miles per hour.

The green Taurus was going 30.

I could see her quite a ways back (how did I know it was a her?)(the feminist in me is outraged on her behalf to be pigeonholed like that, but . . . I'm just calling it like it is).  I had to slow down a bit as I came up to her, and there was a car in between us so I didn't at first even know the green Taurus was there (the car between us--a man--was following too closely).  Neither me nor the man in the SUV wanted to go around the green Taurus because the left lane was in really bad shape.

The SUV broke first.  He pulled into the left lane, barely creeping, and a second SUV came flying up trying to pass all of us.  Maybe it was that second SUV that actually broke first from way back in the train?  I saw it all happen in slow motion, the second SUV used his brakes, fishtailed, and cracked into the back of the first SUV that hadn't gotten up to speed yet because of the damnable green Taurus.

It was just a fender bender.  I could see the second SUV was not pulling all the way off to the side, like he was contemplating a hit and run, but then I saw him slow to a stop so I just kept trucking along.

And then I became the schmuck right behind the green Taurus.  The left lane was still looking scary, and after seeing that accident I was nervous about passing her.  30 miles per hour wasn't much slower than I was comfortable going anyway, so I just kept my distance and stayed where I was.  Not even grumbling because hey, she's just being careful, right?

Until she saw a bridge coming up and coasted down to 13 effing miles per hour!

Yes, I was the jerk that honked.  She didn't look up.  Stupid women drivers.


Then this morning, less than 12 hours later and now driving back to work, I realized this cross countrypades of snow and ice is not all it's cracked up to be.  There are no figure skaters, no double-axels in a Mickey Mouse costume.  It's just crap weather, bad driving, and scary skidding.

And somehow, some way, I end up the lead car.  Why?  I'm the newbee to this stupid driving-around-in-crap-weather . . . uh, crap.  Yet I always end up being the brave bird at the point of the triangle, leading the way, deciding the speed.  Like no one else can make the decision on what a safe speed is, and that way if they end up in the ditch they'll point to me and say, "Well, I was following her."  But I don't know what the heck I'm doing!

This morning the ruts, which weren't even technically "ruts" because there was no landing strip of snow down the middle, so anyway the path of bare pavement was clear to see in the right lane.  All of a sudden the path shifted so much that I was straddling the white dashed line, driving right down the center of the highway.  Then the path moved over because the other cars who drove this way earlier realized their mistake and overcompensated the other way. All of a sudden I went from straddling the dashed line to straddling the expanding triangular white lines of the exit lane.  I was halfway off the freeway before I realized what was happening!  In my rearview mirror I saw the line of cars follow my example.

Is this like a right of passage?  When do I get to just be a sheep?

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