Stranded in the Snow

A recent snowstorm left us with a few inches worth as it passed through our region. This area is not well prepared for snow removal. The clustered cities allocate meager portions of the budget towards winter operations and keep a minimal number of snowplows on hand. They rely upon the usual moderate climate to provide natural road clearing within a few days of a storm. Major highways and primary roads through the cities receive the necessary attention, lesser roads and neighborhoods are untouched.

My grown son takes his employment seriously. His scheduled shift had him expected by 3 a.m. He hopped in his car after clearing the windows and backed out of the driveway at 2 a.m. The trip normally takes him 30 minutes or less. This night his progress was much slower.

The icy neighborhood roads had him crawling slowly turn by turn, street by street, exercising great caution to avoid spinning or sliding. The feeder road was slightly better and he made it to the highway without incident. The highway lanes were not clear. The snowplows had been prioritized towards the city center region and had made limited passes to the surrounding arteries.

He navigated a few miles before hitting an icy patch followed by frozen tire tracks left by someone else. His wheels slid into the frozen channels like a train car on rails and he had no choice but to follow them until he could stop. Unfortunately, the previous track maker had ended their journey off to the side of the road. Not fully in the ditch, but enough that his low-slung car had no clearance and wedged itself firmly in the snow bank.

At this early morning hour, few vehicles were travelling. The ones that were out carefully navigated their way past him and kept going. He sat in the car wondering who to call.

  • Mom and Dad? Would they hear the phone? Would they answer? Would they come and get him?
  • The police? It was not a life and death emergency (yet). Would they help? How?
  • A tow truck? He had never called for one before. Should he call one now? How much would it cost?

As he thought through his options, a white van pulled up behind him. Three men got out and began walking towards his car.

“Oh great,” he thought, “I’ve seen this movie. This is the part where I get killed and my body dumped in the ditch.”

The men reached his car and he stepped out to greet them. They spoke little but pointed and gestured quickly at the car and hooked a tow rope to the frame. They spread some sand around the tires and motioned for him to get back in the car. One of them backed the van while the other two watched until he was safely out of the ditch and back on the highway. They disconnected the tow rope, smiled, waved, and got back in their van.

My son called his boss before moving the car again. “I’m not going to make it in for my shift. The roads are too icy.” he said. Then he drove to the next exit and began working his way back home.

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