Sometimes the snow falls and I can see each individual snowflake. They tumble from the sky with such grace, as though they are attached to long, silken strings that could be snatched back up at any second by some ethereal seamstress. Sometimes snow gathers in feathery drifts as I watch from my window, sipping a hot mug of Earl Gray tea and thankful that I am warm and safe.
And sometimes snow comes crashing down against my car as I drive down 95 South on my way to work on a Friday morning, relentless, thick, and zealously cruel.
It was my first morning driving the New Jetta in less than favorable weather. My pressure against the gas pedal was minimal, for once. (Hello, my name is Kerri and I have a speeding problem.) The snow was pummeling my windshield and I kept the car steady at about 50 mph on the treacherous highway that is Route 95 South.
There was that sound. The thwump thwump of the tire going flat.
Thwump. Thwump. The car starts to list a bit towards left.
“Slow down, get to the side of the road.”Internal Motivational Speaker urged calmly.
My foot hit the brakes sort of hard and the shotgun blast went off. The left rear tire blew out and threw The Jetta into the next lane of snow slugging traffic, without warning.
“Oh shit!” Internal Motivational Speaker ducked under a blanket and hid.
No time to panic. Grab the wheel, turn into the skid, hit the horn so other drivers would know I was about to ruin their day, forcibly guide the rudderless Jetta towards the breakdown lane and away from the four lanes of surging traffic.
The car yielded to my firm hands on the wheel. It slid to a stop, barely in the breakdown lane, rear wheel smoking from riding the rim. I rolled up onto the embankment, as far from the highway as possible. I turned the car off and removed the keys from the ignition. Calmly, I reached into my purse, grabbed my phone, and dialed Chris’s cell.
And I then realized that the tire blew out, tossed me across the four lane, snow covered commuter highway.
“Chris?” [Enter tears] “My tire … 95 … I’m okay … [sniffling vehemently] My tire blew out. Um, can you come get me?”
The Boy arrives in less than ten minutes. My hero.
Calls AAA. (There was no way we were changing that tire with the car sitting less than two feet from roaring traffic.) Gets me out of The Jetta in case someone smacks the car as it sits, wounded, in the breakdown lane. Helps me climb up on the embankment for fear of a car skidding into us while we stand on the side of the road. Gives me an umbrella to stand under, a la Mary Poppins, while the AAA guy jacks up the car.
(Mind you, it’s snowing maniacally at this point.)
Chris sees me on my shaky way with a reassuring kiss. I get back behind the wheel. Ease out into traffic, which is substantially less now that we’ve been sitting on the side of the road for an hour.
Internal Motivational Speaker comes out from under the blanket that hid her. Shakes the snow off her head. And smiles sheepishly.
And the snow continues to fall.