In this space a week ago I wrote about some of my misadventures with the snow and ice while driving. You’d think the ones I mentioned would be enough to last most people a lifetime. But somehow I forgot to mention one of the more embarrassing ones.
It must have been sometime in mid 1980s because I was not married yet, but I was dating my wife.
We had been out somewhere that night and it was past the time that most people are fast asleep, but we were young and full of vim and vigor. So, since a few new inches of snow were glistening on the ground, we decided to take a drive.
I was driving a Honda Civic at the time and those little things (the 1970s ones were much smaller than they are now) would go just about anywhere in the snow, unless you got in deeper than the undercarriage – which we will get to in a minute.
Anyway, I’m not sure where all we went that evening, but eventually we decided to drive past my wife’s parents’ home, which meant traversing a country road. As far as I remember, we’d had absolutely no problems up to that point. And as we turned left off SR 138 and started down Franklin Road, the moonlight sparkling off the snow on the ground and in the trees was absolutely alluring.
But while taking in the sights I had failed to calculate how quickly a few inches of snow can blow across an open country field, and the fact that about exactly where my in-law’s house sat, at least if you’re heading in the direction we were that night, Franklin Road starts sloping downhill.
I never saw it coming. The road looked normal except for the snow covering it. The slight downhill incline was visible and the lay of the land looked pretty much like it would in summer. But what I didn’t know was that the wind had whipped the fluffy snow across the field and the road until it was really deep. Almost instantly, the snow was almost as deep as the front hood on my little Honda and we came to a soft stop – dead in front of my in-law’s house.
Not wanting them to know that we were out on a cold, snowy night, cruising back country roads at a time when we probably should not have been, I popped the Honda into reverse, hoping against hope. It didn’t take more than a couple tries to realize that wasn’t going to work. So I jumped out of the car, told Elaine to get behind the driving wheel, and started pushing. That quickly proved pointless, too.
So then we started digging, or more accurately kicking and clawing, as much of the snow away from my car as we could. That didn’t work either. Then I remembered I had some cardboard in the car. So we tried putting it under the car’s tires. And it might have worked. But like I said the earlier, the Honda was really good in the snow – unless you got in it deeper than the undercarriage.
When I finally took time to survey the situation a little better, it was painfully obvious that not only was the front end of my car buried in more than two feet of snow, but most of my car was actually resting atop the snow.
I kicked, and snorted, and kicked some more, until we finally decided it was time to give up the fight and go knock on the door of my in-law’s dark house.
I don’t know what they thought when they opened the door, but I felt like I was about two feet tall. Looking out their front door, which was not far from the road, it didn’t take them long to figure out the situation we were in.
So, they invited us in, and while my father-in-law started getting dressed for the cold, my mother-in-law started making hot chocolate.
The one good thing about the whole escapade is that my father-in-law is a farmer. After he cleared his eyes and got dressed he went out and fired up a tractor. He hooked a chain to the back of my car and pulled the Honda out like it was no more than a log. A couple minutes later we were back in the house sipping on hot chocolate.
Bill and Joanne Vance were more than kind and hospitable that night. But I was so embarrassed that it seemed like hours before we finally hopped back in the Honda and made a beeline for home.
That was more embarrassing than the first time we had supper with them at their house and I had to force down a whole turnip, thinking – until the first bite – that I was buttering up a big baked potato. It does not, however, top the cold, winter day I hid in an unheated closet for several minutes in an apartment that my father-in-law owned, wearing nothing but…
Well, that’s a story for another day. Maybe.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.