It’s snowing a lot this winter. How do I know? I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the streetlights outside my apartment window. Still coming down? I learned to look at the light from a young age. When I was a kid, praying for a snow day, I’d open up our back door–let in an inordinate amount of cold air–and stare at the porch lights. That snow always looks more devastating while illuminated was besides the point. Just show me something, anything, in that light–a two-hour delay? Anything.
Of course now I’m mostly thinking about shoveling out my car, but I still look to the light and after a year or two of mild winters we’re getting our share this time around including a fresh ten inches or so a few days back. What does all this weather mean? It means it’s time for me to start hearing people talk about how well they drive in the snow. And, to listen to them quietly–all the time thinking, “No, I’m really THE great snow driver.”
Before I move on with this, I’ll just offer the disclaimer that I am discussing Mid-Atlantic snow driving and snow totals. I’m not trying to draw the ire of someone who is buried under five feet of lake effect. This isn’t a contest. At least not one you’d want to win. Keep in mind this disclaimer does not apply to people who live in moderate climes, but spout off horsebleep like, “I went to summer camp in Buffalo,” or “I crossed the Rockies in a Volkswagen back in ’85.” Being in a cold weather city for thirty seconds does not give you any special powers.
So, what is it about snow that makes people lose their ability to judge themselves? Now, I know there are certain areas where people don’t often look in a true mirror, but most can admit to a shortcoming or two. Let me be a good example. I can’t sing. I can’t perform ANY winter sports. I can’t grow a mustache. You get complete honesty from me on these issues, and I feel like I would get some agreement in the crowd. Maybe you can’t carry a tune either, but what if I were to say I wasn’t a good driver in the snow?
Maybe you’d think, OH YOU’RE THE GUY, because we all know the terrible snow drivers are out there, it’s just that no one is taking credit for the fishtails, the sliding back down hills with the brakes locked, the gentle tumble into the guard rail. And yet each time it snows we are all behind dozens of these people.
I think everyone has their own comfort level for driving in poor conditions. A person who is driving a steady 10 mph through the flurries probably thinks they are doing a GREAT job. After all, they haven’t crashed, right? They are just sitting there, behind the wheel of their Civic (or whatever) thinking, MY GOODNESS, I can practically feel the tires gripping the road right now. The guy in the jacked up F-350 behind them, though, is about to pop a few capillaries until they finally get the chance to rip by at 65 mph in a spray of slush and rock salt. When this pass inevitably happens, both parties are likely cursing the other, and thinking, “why can’t anyone drive in the snow?”
So, I have my own snow driving story from today. I was on a particularly odd stretch of back road, trying to avoid a bit of traffic on the way home. I’m headed up a winding hill and about halfway up the road forks and I take the fork. The fork, still moving uphill, immediately comes to an intersection and at that intersection is a school bus. So, everyone is stopped and the car closest to the bus pulls toward the shoulder a bit. The courteous thing to do? It was narrow, but the bus had plenty of room. What I couldn’t see is that under the snow debris the front car had inadvertently pulled into a little depression. A now, icy, slushy depression. Stopping for the bus had ceased all momentum for the front car and for traffic in general. Several cars waited while little Petey and Marybelle meandered toward their driveway.
The blinking red lights stop, the bus pulls away but the front car is still motionless. Is that the sound of a tire spinning? The cars lined up behind are getting a bit impatient. Incredulous. “First time driving on a hill there, Chief?” It gets to the point where the front car has to roll their window down and wave people around. Go on ahead, SAVE YOURSELVES. What was I thinking? I was thinking, hurry and pass me so I can back out of this f*cking rut. That’s right, a perfect career of snow driving and a tremendous ego was shattered this afternoon. Perhaps I am the one. The one who cannot drive in the snow.
To Redeem Self-Esteem, Quiz of the Day Nostalgia. Sports Team Logo Timeline. My Score: 21/25.