Winter Driving Nightmare

Life in the Great Garden State, winter '09

This past Thursday, going into Friday, we were hit with our third snow storm, the third in three weeks. I thought to myself I should stay home, however, as I knew I had deadlines to meet and would be out of work next week, I decided I certainly needed to attempt to get to work.

Before heading out, I called the job to see if the facility was closed, or, at the very least was having a delayed opening. Sadly for me, it was a delayed opening. It was disappointing also because as I listened to the news and checked my radio station's website, the list of closings was growing very quickly. I so hoped my company would have been on the list. However, I knew that greed was keeping them open.

Well, I decided I didn't want to sit here and wait another hour or so and hope the weather improved to begin the trek, so I decided to leave early. My normal start time is 7 am. If you manage to get there before the delayed opening time, you can leave that much earlier. So, I left here at 5:45 am, and headed up the road and hoped for the best.

photo by gryhnd@sxc.hu
photo by gryhnd@sxc.hu

Horrors!

To my utter dismay, the roads here were not yet plowed, salted or sanded!!! I was shocked, as normally our town does a great job in keeping the roads passable. So I thought, well ok, I'll just do 20 mph if I have to, so up the road I went. The highway I take to work is less than a half mile from my house. Well, once I got on the highway it was really dicey and I slid a little in a few spots, even with having 4 wheel drive. Obviously, I needed to go slower, and It took me a good 20 minutes to go a couple of miles. At one point I considered saying the heck with it and turn around, then thought, no, just go as slow as you have to, you'll get there eventually. The exit I take off the highway is approximately three miles away so I decided to see if I could at least make it that far. At 5:45 am there were very few drivers on the road, and as I was crawling along, with my flashers on, there were those drivers that felt the need to pass me. I thought, what the hell are they thinking? Stupid asses!

Proceeding With Caution

After driving at a snail's pace for approximately 30 minutes and only a mile or two, I finally made it to the exit I needed, and up and around the ramp I went. I managed to get on the next highway, went only a matter of several feet, when all of a sudden I was driving in a whiteout. I could not see four feet in front of me. I started panicking. To my horror, there were more idiots on the road trying to pass me at 25/30 mph, coming within a foot of the side of my truck. My guess is they didn't see me in the whiteout until they were right beside me. It was a small miracle I wasn't side-swiped.

photo by penywise@sxc.hu
photo by penywise@sxc.hu

So, with white knuckles and fear in my heart, after driving a bit further the windshield started getting clumps of ice stuck to the blades, making it even harder to see. I finally decided there is no way in hell I am going to make it, so I headed for the next exit, which I couldn't even see. I finally spot it and again, the road is not plowed. This whole trip so far was being driven on un-plowed roads. I couldn't tell what was the road and what wasn't. As I stopped and debated if perhaps I should back off the exit, along came another idiot and passes me on the exit. So, I thought, good I'll follow him, at the very least I'll have something to focus on, and if he should go into a ditch, well, guess I'll be going with him. Sadly, he very quickly disappeared into the white abyss. I continued to proceed cautiously, and I'm driving at a snail's pace when bam! I ran into a curb or something, and as I say a prayer and steer the truck onto what I think is the road, wham! I bounced off a sign. At this point, I thought, oh God, they'll probably find me in a bunch of trees or something frozen to the steering wheel.

Now by this time I'm practically in tears. As I continued creeping along, I finally got on the highway that the exit took me to, only to find I was headed in the wrong direction. I'm thinking, just keep going slow, perhaps this whiteout is limited only to this area, but as I traveled a bit more, I realized that no, this whiteout is everywhere. I was so petrified at this point that the thought of traveling even one more foot was way too scary. Rather then head down to the next traffic light where the next jughandle was, I decided to make a U-turn across four lanes of traffic, which, thankfully, in these conditions, there wasn't any. I headed back to the exit for my highway. Trying to see where the exit even was was a feat in itself. I finally saw it and began to turn into it, and oh boy, here I go again,  I felt the truck bounce off something, no doubt the curb. Now I'm again praying a car would get in front of me so I could at least follow onto my highway. During this whole excursion, the wind was whipping, snow was blowing sideways and there was nothing but white in front of me.

 

Safety at Last

Finally, I made it safely down the ramp to my highway and finally, thank you God, to my street, and the whole time praying, dear God, just let me get home safe. I was never so glad to see my house as I was that morning. I didn't get home till close to 7:30 am, almost three hours since I left the house, and after traveling no more than six miles total round trip. My job is 32 miles one way, which meant that I would have been driving 64 miles total had I continued In those conditions.  If that were the case, I would be pulling into the parking lot on Monday.  I think not.

Do I care that they didn't close that day? Hell, yes. This whole nightmare could have been avoided had my company closed for the day. What they failed to consider is not everyone experienced the same weather conditions that surrounded the immediate job. Many people go to work from other states and counties, and where, in my case, we were in blizzard conditions.

That was my morning!

Comments 32 comments

muley84 profile image

muley84 6 years ago from Miami,FL

Yow! You brought back some bitter, painful memories of when I lived up north. I don't miss that stuff one bit! I am so glad you made it home safe. I hope there is a spot in hell for the heartless bastards that made you and everyone else attempt to drive on that day.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

Hi muley!

Yes this was definitely one for the books for me. In my 40+ years of driving, I think this made the #1 spot on the nightmare list.

Does it make me want to move south? No, not really, because I can't stand the heat and I'm afraid of hurricanes :)

So nice to see you, thanks for commenting.


METPRP 6 years ago

What a great story. Makes you think that we are not masters of the elements. That sometimes we are as helpless as those people in the Donner Party that tried to cross the Rockies and did not make it.

But, you did!!!!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

Hi METPRP,

No, unfortunately, we are not the masters of the elements. That job belongs to Mother Nature. As we know, she has her good days and bad days, but this was one of her worst.

Yes, thankfully, I made it, but my story pales in comparison to the Donner Party.

Thanks so much for dropping in and commenting.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

"At this point, I thought, oh God, they'll probably find me in a bunch of trees or something frozen to the steering wheel." ...LOL! What a picture.

No company has the right to put employees under pressure to risk their lives and the lives of others for the sake of greed. Regarding people who work in ER services, public utilities, law enforcement, and the like, we all understand how these folks must be on their jobs. These are the people who are rescuing the folks who have been pressured into traveling to work for non-critical jobs. Well, that's my rant.

Good for you for getting home safely!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

Hi Sally,

Ya like that, do ya? LOL A photo for posterity perhaps?

I totally agree with you. If I had any nails left to bite, I would have been biting them, but under those conditions, I was afraid to take my hands off the wheel for one second.

I'm glad I made it home too :)


annemaeve profile image

annemaeve 6 years ago from Philly Burbs

*big warm hugs*

I'm so sorry you had to go through this, but I'm grateful you got home safe. Good for you for turning around!

I HATE driving in winter conditions, even when my generous, sainted mother graciously lends me her SUV so I can get in and out of my driveway.

I saw buds on the willow tree this morning, so I'm hopeful that spring is on its way. Love you lots, and stay safe!!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

Hi Anne,

It was quite the experience! I'm glad I turned around too. I am grateful I have 4WD but even that, as you probably know, is no guarantee you won't slip and slide. Caution has to rule.

Buds on the willow tree? Are you teasing me? :) As I'm mostly a 'fall' person, I will welcome spring with open arms, and pray we don't have another winter like this one.

Thanks for commenting, love you too :)


proudgrandpa 6 years ago

Good decision to turn around. I am an old daredevil fool but with such vivid descriptions, I would have turned around also.

I am just glad you didn't allow your deadline to become your DEADline. Smart lady.

I won't rub this in but I write this from the sunny (but chilly) south. Here in Charlotte we get a little snow but it goes away quickly. Glad you made it back safe. NEIL


Duchess OBlunt 6 years ago

Oh, I can so relate! It is a sickening feeling when the fear bubbles up on you and your fingers are frozen to the steering wheel simply because you have been holding on to it like it was your only lifeline! And all because you feel responsible enough about your job to try and make it into work. Sometimes - it's just not worth it.

I hope you manage to grow back those finger nails. In fact, I hope you were able to stop at the finger nails and not start knawing on the bones!

I'm glad you made it back home in one piece.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Brrrrr!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

hi proudgrandpa,

My sentiments exactly. I don't need to put my life in jeopardy. All I know is I am done with winter. I've had enough.

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

Hi duchess,

LOL, if I had become frozen to the wheel I may well have attempted gnawing right through to the bone or something. All I can say is I made a valiant effort if I do say so myself, but the conditions were just too horrendous.

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

Hi Micky,

A man of few words lol, but that says it all!

Nice to see you, thanks for commenting.


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

As picturesque as snow seems to be, it can be a real hazard! Glad you got home safe trish!


carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

Holey moley.. I'm glad you got there in one piece!!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

Hi Feline,

I am too. Nice to see you, thanks for commenting.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

Hi carolina,

Yes me too! A much better scenario than coming home in pieces lol


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

Jeeezes,man glad you managed to get back in one piece...


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

Hi De Greek,

Yes, it was a trip I hope never to experience ever again!

Thanks for reading and commenting :)


yenajeon profile image

yenajeon 6 years ago from California

As this is my 4th year living in Michigan, I completely understand your pain!!

Insightful hub =)


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

Hi yenajeon,

I've never lived anywhere but here, but I have heard Michigan has some pretty fierce weather. The good news is the other three seasons make up for ole man winter, generally speaking.

Thanks for reading and commenting!


RunAbstract profile image

RunAbstract 6 years ago from USA

Very well written. I was right there with you!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

Hi RunAbstract,

Thanks very much. If and when another storm like that hits, you can bet I will be going nowhere :)

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


Nevada Logan profile image

Nevada Logan 6 years ago from USA

I remember the winter weather. We took off to Key West because we were sick of the weather and then we got back the night before, guess what, another bad storm! At least we didn't have to drive in it. Glad you made it home safely.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

Hi there Nevada!

You're lucky you were able to get away. I don't have that luxury so every winter I hunker in and do the best I can. If we should get another round of bad storms, I won't even attempt to drive. The work will still be there when I'm able to go back in.

Thanks so much for stopping by!


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 6 years ago from USA

Oh My Trish! I was there!!! I've been stranded on ice and this brought back those horrid memories. I had no water, but I did have a suitcase full of clothes, and while changing and adding clothing to my body, I was embarassingly rescued!!! Truckers had radioed ahead for me! God love'em.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

Hi Marisue,

I'm afraid to ask, but where did you change? In the car I hope! My thinking is if it had been outside, the truckers got quite a show :)

It's good to know there are still good Samaritans out there.

Thanks for commenting.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Few words- sometimes I wish for only a few. I saw a license tag once from Alaska that said: "Brrrrrrr".


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago Author

Hi Micky,

That's a good one. It about says it all :)

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


Healing Touch profile image

Healing Touch 5 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

Awesome hub. You must see what happened in MN. Check out my hub and the collapsed metrodome.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 5 years ago Author

Hi Healing Touch,

Thanks! I'll take a look at yours later today after work.

Thanks for commenting.

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