Grit Blogs > Domestic Episodes of a Rodeo Princess

Driving in Snow: Not Gonna Go No Mo

A photo of Shirley Rodeo VanScoykI am not good at driving in snow. At least I am honest about it, or at least aware of it. I think people who think they are good at driving in snow aren’t aware that luck has a good deal to do with not getting stuck in a ditch, probably more than skill. And you could have a four wheel drive, 4,000-pound vehicle with traction lock front and back, an 18-inch clearance, chains and studs, and somebody driving a 1983 Bonneville with bald tires will come around a corner, slide sideways and mess you up. Or not.

Snow and cars do not mix

But back to me. I have had two fairly serious accidents in the snow. The first one was in a 1977 Chevrolet Chevette. The only explanation I can offer for the following sequence of events is that I was young. You see, I was on a mission to find a copy of the Delaware yellow pages, so I could find a talent agent in Delaware who had hula dancers. I was trying to start a public relations/events business (which was as doomed as my trip that day), and I worked myself up into such a lather about locating those dancers that I got in the car during a terrible storm and drove the twenty miles down to my Mum’s to get the book. This was way before the internet. I don’t remember why I had my one year old Irish setter/golden retriever mix puppy next to me on the front seat. On the way home, a tractor trailer jackknifed in front of me on a four lane highway. I slid into a guard rail instead of the tractor trailer. Because this was before seat belt awareness, I smacked my head sharply into the steering wheel, enough to see stars.

My head hurt. A lot. And I was scared. Really. When the cops and emergency workers arrived, I had my hand pressed against my forehead. The policeman told me I had to move my hand so he could see how badly I was hurt. I explained to him that I could not remove my hand, or my brains would shoot out all over the dashboard. He explained that if I was that badly hurt, I wouldn't be able to tell him that. Well, that made sense. I removed my hand and I didn't even have a knot or a bruise. That was embarrassing.

Years later, I was on my way to work in my 1986 Lincoln Town Car. It was not 1986 – it was more like 1998. I loved this car, but no one else did. It was huge – sort of battle cruiser class. It was black with a red leather interior which gave it a pathetic, trying to be sexy quality. My husband always said that it handled like a sled, which ironically made it terrible in the snow – you could only go straight. I missed a curve on a small hill, ended up with the front of the car buried in a snowbank, and again – this time because I sit too close to the wheel – banged my face into the steering wheel, putting my teeth through my lower lip. I got out of the car, stood in the road with blood dripping down my chin.

The first person to arrive is my daughter-in-law’s brother. He gets out of his truck, hands me a tissue and says, “Did you get thrown from the car?” I reply, “Gnaw – fly dumb they flap?” Which is, when you have a flapping bottom lip, “No, why would you say that?” He points to my sweater, which is covered with hay and grass. I fed the horses right before I got in the car, carrying the hay into the barn and me being me, had not brushed it off. At this point, the ambulance arrives, I am whisked off to the emergency room, and the first thing the attending asks me is, “Were you thrown from the car?” while he points to my sweater. They stitch me up, each person involved with this asking upon entering the room, “Were you thrown from the car?” The nurse calls my husband who says he can’t come to the hospital to drive me home, finally getting in touch with my mother who picks me up and says, “Oh my! Were you thrown from the car?” She drops me in the driveway at the farm, I climb the stairs, wake up my son, who looks at me, sweater covered with grass and hay and now blood and the snipped ends of sutures and he says, “Why did you wake me up?”

This is how I learned the hard way not to drive in bad weather. I won’t even go out now BEFORE the storm hits.

No matter how many advisories, predictions of significant inconveniences, potential threats, winter mixes, hazardous conditions, frequent gusts, failing visibilities, threats to life or property, lake effects, sustained wind velocities, or even non-existent temperature warnings associated with blizzards they might declare, and no matter how many parka wearing, coyote fur hooded intern reporters they strap to telephone poles all over the Delaware Valley, weather reporters can not frighten me into going to the grocery store. What the heck is a ROVING Penn Dot Crew anyway?

All those alarmists who foam at the mouth when some high pressure system meets a low pressure one over a body of water and starts sucking up moisture and pairs up with gale force winds and begins to careen up from the south can save it. Won’t work on me now. OH, I’ve gotten in line at Croppers with 24 rolls of Scott Toliet Paper, 6 loaves of Meyers Italian Bread, 4 dozen eggs, 3 frozen lobster tails, and a pound of brown sugar just in case I want to bake something (which I never do). Not to mention the dog and cat food, chips, salsa, pretzels, soda, hot cocoa mix, matches, candles,bottled water, and chocolate I’ve lugged into the house. I will not wander down aisles this time imagining that I will make huge crock pots of steamy messes that I can post about to admiring Friends on Facebook. In the past I have reacted to weather warnings by spending hundreds of dollars on food that I really didn’t need, I’ve also gotten in line at the gas station and the hardware store to buy shovels, salt, chains, gloves, boots, windshield cleaner, radiator fluid and kerosene.

But not any more.

I’ve declared a moratorium on this kind of knee jerk catastrophe avoidance activity. Not only do I have most of the stuff from other binges still in my closets and pantry, but I am just fed up with the lines. I thought about it, realized that I have never, in 57 years, been snowed in for more than 24 hours. I’ve never been without electricity for more than 10 hours. And if I had, all that food would have gone bad anyway. Also, as I’ve gotten older, I have just decided not to go out. And for the duration of this storm and all future ones, on the extremely rare occasion that I will get stuck at my house due to weather, I am going to relish it. I will consider it a demonstration of character and faith that this time, I will live on the Girl Scout cookies, canned tomato soup and frozen pizzas that I already have.

So there.

nebraska dave
3/10/2010 9:50:06 PM

Rodeo, I've always wondered about the frenzy buying before a storm. Does everyone just eat bread, eggs, and milk during a storm? This last winter was bad here in Nebraska. I live on a hill that the city forgets about during bad storms. We have a better chance that the snow will melt before the snow plow comes through. Anyway we had the Mother of snows that dumped 14 inches and then three days later another 12 inches. Needless to say my little two wheel drive Ford Ranger truck wasn't going any where. After three days the neighbors asked if I was doing OK and if they could take me to the store for food. I replied, "Well let's see three days ago I BBQ ribs for Supper, two days ago I had home made Turkey Noodle soup, ah then last night I fried chicken and baked potatoes. If I had to I could last almost 30 days without going to the store." They responded, "Oh, Ok, just didn't want you to go hungry." It is true. I could go about a month on the food I have stored up in the house. Of course by the end of that 30 days I be awful tired of beans, rice, and oatmeal. I try to avoid the before storm rush.

3/10/2010 4:24:10 PM

Glad you weren't hurt. But I have to admit if the word snow is mention way down here every loaf of bread, gallon of milk and bunchesed of bananas fly off the grocery self. We did have a big snow of about 4 inches here in middle Georgia this year. First one in years! It was gone the next day though. Great post. Have a good day. GaFarmWoman Pam Life on a Southern Farm

rodeo princess
3/10/2010 4:09:13 PM

So Sorry, Oz Girl - yes, that dog did fine - well, she almost tore the head off the policeman, and she blew her anal glands - the smell of which I never got out of the car, but she was fine for another 16 years. And Mountain Woman, I think those peanut butter/chocolate girl scout cookies are as fine as anything that Godiva makes and the tomato soup that comes out of Camden, NJ (Campbell's) is also pretty good. Thanks for the comments - I enjoy being part of this blog community!

mountain woman
3/10/2010 3:30:58 PM

I'm so glad you are okay after the accidents. I loved what you wrote about rushing off to the store to spend time in line buying way to much stuff. I'm with you Girl Scout cookies and soup sounds wonderful and stay home until the weather passes. Unfortunately we have snow here for six months so I don't get many places. By the way, I love all your blog entries.

oz girl
3/10/2010 3:26:39 PM

Amen sista, no matter how good the wheels you're drivin, you gotta watch out for those other low-maintenance cars!! I've always been a big believer of that. I always did ok in bad weather, but for some odd reason, since I moved to KS, I've shied away from driving in the wintry season... obviously there's been times I couldn't avoid it, but I like it less the older I get!! By the way, I'm assuming your furry friend weathered that first crash ok?