But it's been a few years since I had any snow to tramp around in, joyfully or otherwise, and I couldn't help but get caught up in the snow fervor in Charlotte that accompanied our recent micro-blizzard. A few flurries fell from the clouds, and within minutes there were 12 wrecks on I-85 and the grocery stores were sold out of milk and bread. How could we help but be excited?
On our first snowy morning, I was out early, making a snowman, having a snowball fight and just generally having a terrific time stomping around in the snow. I even had a big mug of steamy hot chocolate topped with marshmallows. Like your average Southern driver, only an emergency would have gotten me into my vehicle on Thursday. We already had food and stuff, but I did take a trip up to the grocery store on foot, just to see what was going on. It was crowded, in case you were wondering. And it looked like a flock of seagulls had descended on the bread rack.
Anyway, I had a doctor's appointment on the second day of the snow ("Winter Storm 2002," according to local news stations, who luckily had put together "Winter Storm 2002 Teams" to ensure adequate "Winter Storm 2002 Coverage"), and everything was mostly melted by the afternoon, so I decided to venture out onto the roads, going, naturally, no faster than 20 miles per hour and only then if I couldn't see any snow at all. The trip was uneventful, so my confidence grew.
This hubris was to be my downfall. (Check out that dastardly foreshadowing, folks. You can almost hear the spooky soundtrack crank up.) After a minimum of discussion, my little family unit, consisting of my sister, my brother-in-law, my husband and myself, hopped into the car to visit my mom, who (did I mention?) lives on a rural dirt road in B.F.E.
You can probably see where this is going. I know I can. We were happy-go-lucky travelers, talking, laughing and singing along to the radio. Little did we realize that, although much of the snow had melted, its vestiges were still left in the road where, as the temperature dropped again, the aforementioned water in the road became ice. Sure, in retrospect it seems like ninth grade physical science, but, hey, we were young, we were foolish, we thought we were immortal, damn it all!
And that's how my car wound up in a snow-filled ditch. A snow-filled ditch on an icy curve that other cars were continuing to round, going way too fast. I probably saw 20 or more cars skid on the exact same icy curve that did us in. They, like us, were all people who have to learn things the hard way.
Anyway, we were lucky enough to land in the yard of a fairly nice guy but not so lucky that his neighbors were nice too. The fairly nice guy let us use his phone. But his ass of a next-door neighbor naturally came over to gawk at our misfortune. I don't blame him for this; if I lived in the middle of nowhere, I'd take my entertainment where I could get it, too. I do blame him for being a jerk, a money-grubbing, drunk-off-his-ass jerk, as far as I could tell. I'm happy to say that this scum's attitude was set in sharp contrast to the attitude of the Good Samaritan who eventually came along to pull us out of the ditch. This man helped to attach a strap to our car and then pulled us out of the ditch with his pick-up truck.
Once we were out of the ditch, we crept to my mother's house (and safety) at approximately one mile per hour (I'm rounding up). The story didn't end there, though, since the next morning we discovered that one of the tires had been punctured when it fell into the ditch, so we had to change the tire and find an open tire shop to repair the holey one.
When we finally arrived home that evening, I was tired, annoyed at myself and utterly sick of snow and ice. But I also had a good idea for a screenplay about my weekend, starring Janeane Garofalo as me. It's always good planning to figure out who will play you when they make your life story into a movie. Of course, it's also good planning to stay the hell at home when the roads ice over, but one must have her priorities, you know.
Anyway, I was cheered by more than my idea for a blockbuster screenplay. After all, there are people out there who are willing to help other people with absolutely no thought for themselves, even when they themselves are jeopardized. This does uplift me, especially right now when I'm not feeling positive about the inherent goodness of human beings. Some people are so stubborn in their beliefs that they are willing to burn books they don't agree with, and others take advantage of senior citizens to make money, even in times of national tragedy. There are also people who hate others so much, they're willing to destroy buildings and airplanes. There are people who value justice over the lives of innocents.
But there is one guy with a pick-up truck who was willing to help me out when he could have kept right on driving. That guy's existence doesn't eliminate the existence of evil any more than the snow covering the ground in Charlotte eliminated dirt. But, while they last, they're both beautiful experiences. And it's not always bad to appreciate the small things, even when the big things seem insurmountable. *