Thursday, January 18, 2007

Getting Home

Sometimes, in the great frozen north, just getting home can be an adventure. So it was for me on Tuesday. I take the Care-A-Van to and from work, a ride taking about five minutes, since it is nine blocks. Since my office is on the third floor, when the C-A-V is close, the driver calls me on her cell phone, and I start down to meet her. The cost of gas is so high this winter that C-A-V couldn't afford to put studded tires on all the vans, so they put the second best winter tires. Yesterday the roads were treacherous, so she didn't want to take either hand off the wheel; she waited until she was parked at the curb to call me, and when I got downstairs, the C-A-V was there, but Lynn wasn't. Because of the bad roads, she had been running behind and been unable to stop earlier and hit the women's room.

So, I got on the C-A-V, and Lynn came out of the building, and we started uphill. We were moving slowly, because the roads were not good, but we were going without any problems at all until we were maybe three feet from the top of my hill and the path my landlady had shoveled to my staircase. Smooth, easy, chatting away about her grandson. And then the dog walked slowly out in front of us. The only way to avoid killing the dog, was to put on the brake. Not a good idea when driving uphill on snow over ice.

We slid backwards down the serpentine road (picture taken in the summer). Slid down, slipping from side to side. We finally stopped right around the curve, by the brown house, and there we were. Lynn had the emergency brake on and still didn't dare take her foot off the brake. The door was a few inches from the retaining wall, so there was no way I could get out. There was a very large bag of sand in the back -- but neither of us could get to it or use it.

Lynn called the office for help and then we waited. The owner of the dog carried a pail of ashes down to spread in front of our tires, falling twice on the ice that had been uncovered by our slipping all over the road. Other cars came up the hill behind us (not being able to see us around the curves) and then had to back down (the road narrows at that point and is one way for about 45 feet -- at least once a week someone has to back up there and let the upcoming vehicle drive by). When the two other drivers from C-A-V arrived they had to leave their C-A-V at the bottom of the road and walk up -- slipping all the way up the steep hill. Sometime during the 45 minutes we waited in there, Lynn stated that she was so very, very glad she had gone to the bathroom!

Once the other drivers were there, they were able to open the back of the C-A-V (the wheelchair door, which opens from the outside) and get out the sand and spread it in front and behind us. The other drivers and I sat way in the back to give the whole thing ballast, and finally Lynn could let the brakes off, slide only a couple of inches down, get traction, and up we went. And so I was home, and after feeding the Hooligans, who were telling me that their throats had been cut, I called my mother to wish her a happy birthday. At which point, I thought I could still hear some commotion outside, so I looked out and -- now the C-A-V was stuck midway in the intersection. They had to call a tow truck and put chains on the tires and finally got down off my hill at 7:45.

In a Nutshell follows.

8 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

No doubt that ay sort of grade in those conditions would be highly problematic. You guys come across as being very patient through it all, however.

J said...

Oh my god, seems like some studs on the tires might be worth the money after all...

Maya's Granny said...

AC - it does no good to get upset about it. When you live with these conditions all the time, and you live in a small community, it just seems to make sense to be patient. I will tell you that Lynn's left leg was trembling by the time she took it off the brake.

J - studs would be worth the money, but the money isn't there. No good to have studs on vans and no gas to run them. Usually, if the conditions are this bad they call and I take a cab, which does have studs.

Maya's Granny said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cherry said...

That story stressed me out. I would not be as calm as you.

Deja Pseu said...

My goodness, what an ordeal!

Haven't had much experience with ice, except for the two years I lived in New Jersey. I didn't have any real winter shoes, being too broke to buy them that first year, and remember once trying to walk the two blocks to the laundromat on icy sidewalks while carrying a very full basket of laundry. After falling on my tuchus twice, I put the basket down on the ground, put one knee on top, pushed with my other foot and proceeded the rest of the way with my "ice scooter".

Maya's Granny said...

Cherry, That's something to add to my list of things I do well -- I stay calm in tense situations.

I'm just glad that Lynn stays calm, since she was the one with her foot on the brake for 45 minutes.

Rain said...

Wow, amazing. I saw photos of drivers in Portland sliding down the roads sideways. Mostly our roads here were okay but there are times I really do miss having studded tires which I know were hard on the roads, not as good when it was just wet but boy were they nice when it was ice with snow on top.

There are times I so much regret upgrading to the new blogger and trying to comment elsewhere is one of them...