Skid Zing Zoom - 12.18.00

I wrote about it a smidge in a recent Come To My Senses entry, but after looking back, I don't think that one paragraph can fully describe the wackiness that went on with me the other day. I was driving my car and hit a slick spot and went in the ditch, that much is true. There were other elements to this whole situation, though, that I felt were interesting enough to warrant their own piece.

In setting things up, I feel that it's important to mention why I was even out of town to begin with on a Saturday morning in which severe winter storm warnings were predicted anyway. On the Friday evening previous, I was hired by a local company to work at their holiday employee party. I was to take pictures throughout the night with a digital camera and then load them all up onto a laptop into a slideshow presentation and play it near the very end of the party, providing sort of a 'highlight reel' of the nights events for everyone. For my efforts, I was going to be paid and the company also put me up in a hotel room overnight.

The next morning (on Saturday), I got up after exactly 8 hours of sleep and decided that I would get on the road and get back home so I could get some gift shopping done with my brother. The plan was that I would be back in town by 10:30 in the morning, then we'd have a couple hours to shop, as well as an hour or so to play some racquetball. As of 9:30 a.m. my plan was in full effect. I'd already checked out of my room and my car was all scraped off and warmed up and ready to go. I'd even downed an entire cup of coffee in the course of about 10 minutes and although I was a tad bit hungry, I was ready to roll. I got in the car and took off.

It was readily apparent from the start that the drive home would be a good deal harder than I had initially thought. Not only were winds whipping the car at up to about 40 miles per hour, but the temperature outside with that wind chill were about 40 degrees below fahrenheit and the snow was blowing across the road so badly in some places that it was nearly a complete white out.

Although the speed limit was 65 miles per hour for the highway that I was on, I rarely got my speed above 55 and most of the time I drove along at about 50 or so. I was seeing about as many cars off the road (mainly left over from the night before) as I was on the road, which was a pretty foreboding sign. About 30 minutes into my trip, I stopped by a gas station and filled up my car and got a snack, then went back out to brave the last half of the trip.

I got back on the road and it seemed to clear for a short while after the stop. Although the snow was still blowing across, it seemed to be a bit clearer out and I was actually making pretty good time. When I was only about 10 minutes from the edge of town, though, something a bit unexpected happened. I was driving along and coming up on a car in the right lane when I decided that I would go around them in the left lane because they were going a bit too slow (probably about 45 compared to my 52 or so). Just as I got into the left lane, though, my car started spinning and turning and even though I didn't slam on the brakes or completely panic, it went out of control and I slid from the left lane through the right lane and down a 30 foot embankment into a deep ditch and drifted snow.

At the exact moment it happened, all I could do was swear a bit and hold on. Once I realized that I wasn't going to recover, I just hoped that my car wouldn't flip over and that I wouldn't get injured. I used my left arm as a brace against my door and my right as a brace between my two front seats. I was shaken around, but didn't hit my head or really anything else. When my car finally came to a stop, I sat for only a moment before trying to get out.

Of course, even that was a task since the snow was so deep where I had stopped. I had to again sort of brace myself and shove with all my might to get the door open and when I stepped out, the snow was just about as deep as the knee of my pants. I clambored up the embankment to the road to flag someone down for a ride (although I could see a gas station about a mile ahead that I would have ran to given no other options) and someone stopped almost immediately. Not only were they driving into Lincoln, but they were going to be driving right by the apartment complex of a friend of mine.

Fortunately my friend was actually home and let me in to warm up a bit. Even though I hadn't been outside that long, the snow had melted in my shoes and my feet were freezing cold from running through the drifts. We finally found someone that would come tow the car out and met them an hour later.

After the very slow and deliberate task of hauling my car up the embankment, I surveyed the damage. Not only were both of the tires on the left side of my car completely flat (most likely due to a broken seal or valve stem), but there was a small hole just behind my left rear tire where the car had taken out a small reflective sign on the way down. The spot had been rusty before, and the sign hit the car in just the right spot to punch a small hole through to the inside of my trunk.

So they could tow the car, I had to change the right front tire and exchange it with my spare, so I kneeled on the ground and nearly froze my hands, ears, and face off while doing that. Although I had a hat and gloves and was wearing layered clothes, the cold north wind went through them all like they weren't even there and I had to find vents in my friends car for my feet and hands as we followed the tow truck into the station in town.

We made it there and the tire damage was minimal and a quick fix, but it was recommended that I leave the car to see if there was any other underside damage (in addition to the small hole that was visible), so it's actually still sitting at the repair place until Monday when everyone comes in and can take a look at it.

As I also mentioned in my short entry, though, I was very lucky that I wasn't hurt more and that my car didn't actually flip over, etc. It was also good fortune that someone stopped so quickly to pick me up so I didn't have to stand out in the cold for very long after my car actually did take the plunge. In the end, what I ended up making from working at the party will probably be negated by the costs I have from the accident, but that's how things work out sometimes. I'll be fine and I'm sure my car will go again (hopefully) and if anything I'll just drive even a little more safe in winter weather.