Bouncing Off A Truck

Yesterday morning I checked the weather forecast and was told that there was a chance of some snow flurries and probably a lot of wind.  At noon, they had issued a wind warning and said that maybe we would get an inch of snow.  By the time I left for work it was snowing pretty consistently and they were telling people to stay off of the roads.

They closed the interstate by my house due to icing and several major accidents, and as the weather worsened (and more severe warnings were issued), I sat at the customer-free pizza place, wondering why I was there.  It was suggested that we close early, but every time it seemed like that might happen, a lonely customer would straggle in and order a cup of soup, so the boss kept us open.

Finally, when the weather reports were predicting snowfall of up to an inch an hour and gusting wind chills of 25 below, and the store was completely cleaned, mopped, and ready to be locked up, we closed up early and I started the long, treacherous drive home.

I should explain up front that my car does not belong in weather of any kind.  It is a soft top convertible that leaks severely at even the softest rain, and the tires resemble Patrick Stewart in their baldness.  The previous owner told us when he sold it to us that he never took it out in winter, but rather kept it in a garage covered up, because even in the best conditions, with new tires and recent tune-ups, this car was no good in the winter.  All of this weighed heavily on my mind as I drove off into the night.

The first half of the drive was scary, but manageable.  I drove about 25-30 mph through the 40-50 mph zones, and though I slipped and slid a little, I am a good enough winter driver to ride the skids and control the vehicle, even in less than favorable conditions.  When I finally reached the state highway that I live on, I was fairly confident that I would survive the rest of the journey.

That all changed when I pulled onto Route 2.  I had about 4 miles to go before my house, and there were several obstacles to overcome on the way.  The first problem was that the interstate had been closed, and so all of the traffic was rerouted onto this road, and all of it coming right at me.  A solid line of huge trucks, little cars, SUVs, and everything else in between were shining their lights in my eyes and taking up more than their fair share of the road.

The second problem was that, perhaps because of all the oncoming traffic, their lane was mostly free of snow, but my lane was covered with inches of snow, slush and ice, and since nobody was driving my way but me, it was all I could do to drive in a straight line at about 10 mph.

I chugged along slowly, trying very hard not to crash into anybody, and I was doing okay until I was about a mile and a half from my house.  That was when I got to the hill.  The big hill.  The one that is scary even on a bright summer day, because it is super curvy, super steep, and cars whip around it going 60 and you can’t see them coming.  Nobody was going 60 last night, but it didn’t matter.

I tried to brake as I crested the top of the hill, but to no avail.  I was only going 10-15 mph, but I quickly realized that I had no control of the car as I accelerated to 20-25, despite pumping the brakes as frantically as I could.  The car started careening back and forth as the steering wheel stopped serving any sort of purpose, and of course, as luck would have it, there was another huge column of cars heading my way in the other lane.

When I first slammed into the guard rail I heard a huge noise and I was sure that my tire had blown, and I bounced over into the oncoming traffic lane, miraculously just as there was a small break in the traffic, and right when I thought I might get hit by something, the car swerved back into my lane, and back into the guardrail.  Going faster, I bounced a bit harder this time, off of the guard rail and back toward the oncoming traffic.  This time there was a big truck in the other lane, which I hit.

I bounced into the truck, and the bounce threw me back into my lane, and somehow I was going straight again.  I couldn’t stop, so I kept going, and the snow from my roof had shaken down and obscured my rear windshield, so I don’t know if the truck stopped either, but I suspect it couldn’t have stopped any more than I could have, even if it had wanted to.

Once I reached the bottom of the hill, there was the problem of getting up the next hill, and it was then that I was sure that my car was not going to survive.  I got about a third of the way up the steep incline when the car started to really slow down, and by the time I was 80% of the way up, the car was not moving, but just spitting snow out of the spinning tires.

I was afraid that if I stopped and got out that the car would slide back down the hill again, so I just started pumping the gas pedal in spurts, and eventually I made it up the hill, an inch at a time.  I wasn’t sure if the problem was my tire, or just general automotive destruction, but once I got to the top of the hill, the car seemed to be going forward, and being a mile from home in a snowstorm with wind chills of 25 below, I was going to ride that sucker as far as it would take me.

I made it home with no problem after that, and when I got out to examine the car, I found no damage whatsoever.  The tire seems fine, and there is not a scratch to be found.  So……that was weird.

Posted in Car, Driving, Snow.

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