*the above quotation is from Robert Byrne*
Oh, we’ve had all sorts of Winterish adventures here; many more than any in Ye Ole Petler Inn would like to see. And we’re a bit worried about all this awful weather as we’re going to be moving in nine days (!!!ANDNOTAFUCKINGTHINGISPACKED!!!); Christmas is in three days; and the winter solstice was last night (although I missed the eclipse as it was way too cloudy above our house). Also, I would like to put on record that we live in East Tennessee. And although my “No-Good-Very-Bad Weather” may not be a flurry to those in northern states, but let me tell you: We are not used to true winters. At the very idea of snow, we panic. We’re not used to it. We’re not prepared for it. It’s not good at all.
On my way to work last Sunday afternoon (the live show runs from 6pm-midnight EST), I received a call from my boss/friend, Brandon, to check on the progress in my commute. Here is the conversation (also, it should be noted that I P-A-N-I-C at the idea of inclement weather and having to drive in it; during snow/ice possibilities, I become almost unbearable):
him: So, how’re you doing?
me: Fine. …why?
him: You driving okay? –You’re still coming?
me: What? I’m [halfway there]. It’s totally clear, not a cloud in the sky…. …why?
him: ……oh. ….no reason.
him: Ummm….it’s snowing here…
me: Snowing?!? Is it bad?! HOW BAD?!?
him: Oh! Not bad! Not bad at all! In fact, the sun’s coming up!!
me: Bullshit. HOW BAD?!?! Did you call me to freak me out? Should I be worried? What does it look like?!?!
him: …it’s all sunshine. It’s great up here.
***[to note: the studio where I work is at the base of some pretty famous mountains, at a much higher elevation than my home]***
him: ….it’s all white.
me: WHAT?!?!?! ALL WHITE?!?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?! IT’S SNOWING?!?!?! HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN SNOWING?!?!?
him: Only about an hour…maybe less.
me: AND IT’S ALL WHITE?!?!?!?!?!
him: Yeah, and it’s sticking. I’m watching cars almost hit each other trying to get out of the parking lot. It’s pretty bad. Be very careful.
me: ….shit. shitSHITshitSHITshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitshitSHITSHITSHITSHITSHITshitshitshitSHIT!!!!
him: You’re almost here. You’ll be okay. Just drive slow and be very careful.
him: See you soon!
Needless to say, I did make it to work; I did panic for the rest of my commute even more the few times I felt my tires slide on the snow/ice; and I continued to panic for the duration of our six-hour show. However I must note, panic makes that long six-hour shift go by oh-so-very-quickly. I hardly noticed the time passing because I was much too busy FREAKING THE FUCK OUT. And it was bad. I kept asking the support staff to the hosts what the weather is looking like outside. CONSTANT VIGILANCE! Little good it could do me. I was stuck in the show for the duration. And when it was all over, we locked up the studio and went outside.
And the world was white. Oh-so-very-white. Virginal. Except what I was thinking wasn’t virginal at all. It was more along the lines of OH-HOLY-SHIT-WHAT-ARE-WE-GOING-TO-DO?!?!-WHAT-AM-I-SUPPOSED-TO-DO?!?-HOW-AM-I-GOING-TO-GET-HOME?!?!-I-REFUSE-TO-BE-FUCKING-STUCK-HERE-IN-THIS-NON-HOME-PLACE-WITH-THESE-GOD-AWFUL-PEOPLE-AND-THEN-WHAT-ARE-WE-SUPPOSED-TO-DO-IF-WE’RE-SNOWED-IN?!?-I-CAN’T-STAY-HERE-WITH-THEM-THERE-IS-NO-WAY-IN-HELL-I-CAN-DRIVE-DOWN-THAT-FUCKING-MOUNTAIN-TO-GET-TO-MY-HOME-HOLY-SHIT!-HOLY-SHIT!-HOLY-SHIT!-WE’RE-SO-FUCKED!-WHAT-AM-I-SUPPOSED-TO-DO?!?-FUCK!-FUCK!-FUCK!-FUCK!-FUCK!!!
There was a back-up plan. Our miserly supervisor had even called in to tell us that he would pay for a hotel room for the crew; but we didn’t really want to do that. Luckily, the other camera-operator working that night also lived in the same town as myself and Brandon. And the three of us decided it would be best to stay together in The Other Guy’s new(ish) four-wheel-drive vehicle, rather than in our separate cars (Brandon’s being a sedanish type car, and myself owning a 16-year-old jeep cherokee). And The Other Guy drove us back home. It was extremely slow going; and we slid several times; and the roads were totally whited out; and the snow was coming down in an awful way (that would have been very lovely had we been safely in our respective homes); and even the interstate was in an awful white-out-ish condition that was made scarier by the insistence of the tractor-trailer drivers to continue their work; but slowly and if not surely, than certainly with great trepidation, we made it back home. Or, rather, The Other Guy drove Brandon and I to my house as there was no fucking way on this Earth that any kind of vehicle would be making it up the giant steep hill where Brandon lives, and The Other Guy made it back to his apartment. Brandon slept here that night, and we poured the wine and watched a holiday comedy classic, and collapsed into bed (or in Brandon’s case, collapsed into an air mattress). And the next day, although the snow continued to fall and stay all over the fucking place, it kept off the roads and we were able to pick up our cars courtesy of my beloved, Ben.
The following Wednesday, I was making my way to work (on totally clear roads) when I decided to check up on my parent’s progress to Boston where they were working on moving Sister’s belongings into a storage facility and bring her and her enchanting dog home for the holidays. And my dear sweet old Papa dropped this bomb on me, “You ready for the ice storm?”
Like all good upper-middle-aged men, my father obsessively watches the weather. The Weather Channel is always the first channel he finds when with an unfamiliar television, he leaves it running on his TV at home, he even has an app for it on his droid.
Apparently, East TN, which has rarely seen the likes of any sort of ice storm [at least in my lifetime], was expecting to be sheeted in ice starting around 7pm till around sunrise–with the worst bits freezing around midnight.
Great. Just fucking great.
That Wednesday show? It runs from 5pm–midnight. Oh-ho! How wonderful!!
I spent the duration of that seven hour show chanting quietly to any force of nature or god who could possible hear me, “NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.NoIce.”
It didn’t work.
When we left the studio and walked outside, the entire parking lot was one super thick sheet of ice. Boss-man Brandon, Other-Regular-Camera-Guy Roger, and myself turned on our respective old vehicles, and skated around the parking lot and out onto the roads to test the conditions for the next 15 minutes.
I am, of course, panicking. I have to get home. I can’t be trapped up here. I have a ton of shit to do. Christmas shopping to finish, and packing to pretend to start, and gifts to finish making, and a house to clean, and TOMORROW IS MY OTHER DAY OFF AND I CAN’T BE STUCK UP HERE.
But Brandon offered to drive me home, and I figured if his dinky little car could make it the near 25 miles back to our house, than most certainly I would be able to do so in my Jeep. And Roger lived just as far away in the opposite more rural direction, and so we parted ways, wishing each other luck and safety. And Brandon gets a five minute head start just in case something really awful is ahead, he can call and tell me about it first.
And I call Ben and tell him to keep up a constant stream of conversation to keep me from losing my absolute head whilst I drive home. And of course, he doesn’t understand because at our house, there is no ice. Just a whole lot of slushiness. But not a single slippery patch. But he does it anyway. And what normally is an easy 30 minute commute, turned into a 90 minute unnerving drive home.
And just as I get to my home; my sweet old house; my warm safe immovable house; Brandon calls.
And he’s stuck. He slid down a large hill and his car is now stuck in a frozen parking lot and can we come and get him?
And dear sweet Ben, offers to let me come inside and he will take his car out to get Brandon. But I am the only one of the three of us with four-wheel drive, and I’ve already been driving for 90 minutes, so what’s another 15?
And so Ben walks out to my car at the end of our street, nearly falling on his ass in the process (Ice? What ice?) and ends up skating to me. And so we head off to get Brandon, and as we’re nearing him, I realize that from his location, hills either up or down, are our only option of getting home. So we call Brandon and tell him we’re going to turn around and wait for him to walk to us; and apparently he can already see the Jeep making it’s precarious way to him.
And I turn the car onto a small side-street. And we start sliding. And the car is moving laterally. And I look at Ben and yell, “WHAT DO I DO?!? WHAT DO I DO?!? WHAT DO I DO?!?” And he’s saying, “…I’ve never moved sideways in a car before…I don’t know…” All observant and not-very-present-in-this-god-awful-uncontrollable-moment. So I steer the sliding car into a large yard (or very small field, whichever you may prefer) and then sit there.
What the fuck.
I was home.
I MADE IT HOME!!!
And fucking Brandon needed rescuing. Damn it all to hell and back.
So we climb out of the car, and nearly fall down because the entire world is now iced over. What looks like snow? Ice. What looks like clean road? Ice. What looks like a slushly sidewalk? ALL FUCKING ICE. And I start berating myself in my head for not listening to that little voice that wanted to ask Ben to bring me my winter boots before he skated to the Jeep, because we were in a car and he would only make fun of me for panicking. And we make our way back to the road where Brandon has made it and is gleefully watching us. And the three of us make it ever so slowly back to the house, learning the very best way to walk through ALL THE ICE EVERYWHERE is to step in the long grassy bits right beside the road: the ice is only on the top layer and body weight crushes it down and it gives all of our poorly clad feet purchase. Of course, there were some scary bits, crossing the road was extremely treacherous, as was crossing the sidewalk and going up the few steps there too. But eventually we made it back. And had nice big drinks for everyone; and watched another holiday movie classic; and blew up the air mattress for the second time in three days; and fell oh-so-very-exhausted into bed.
And the next morning we woke up and there was still ice. Although from the time I woke up at 10am, till the time the boys got up 90 minutes later, cars were able to drive on the roads again, and the ice was turning into slush slowly as the temperature rose.
And eventually we bundled up and headed out to collect the cars.
Ben, Brandon, and myself (with Attila and spazzy Ollie) setting out on the quest for cars.
Even though there was still ice all over the sidewalks, and parts of some yards, the roads were clear and we set out. Oh, and we also had my mom’s super spazzy dog that needed walking (to rid him of his Crazy energy) and Attila too.
Ice still present but slowly melting away.
First we came up on my poor Jeep.
Still icy jeep
And although it was still coated in ice, it would not be a lot of trouble to get it home.
Not too bad, easily able to get out (with crazy Ollie)
So we left the semi-frozen Jeep and kept walking towards Brandon’s car. The hilly parking lot where he left his car was now occupied by three other vehicles, one of whom had been stopped by a telephone pole, and the lot was still very icy. But it seemed as if it was thawing out a bit. All the same, Ben, the dogs, and myself decided to stay safely on the flat sidewalk whilst Brandon went down to check out his car situation alone.
A small graphic strip of Brandon's car, and please excuse the poor quality as I was forced to use the digital zoom on our point-and-shoot camera.
Brandon’s car had slid to a stop so very close to my parent’s currently abandoned house and we decided the best idea was to break in and see what we could forage up as a small smackeral of something delicious.
A hearty snack of carrots, pretzel rods, peanut butter, ritz crackers with a delicious cheesy spread, and M&Ms.
After food the roads were deemed easy enough to travel, and we made a shopping list up so Ben and I could make German chicken noodle soup (I don’t know exactly how it’s different from other chicken noodle soups [perhaps more potatoes?], all I know is Mama got the recipe from Oma, who uses the same recipe her Mama made in Berlin before the war–it’s the only kind of chicken noodle soup I know.) And Brandon needed to buy any type of food for his bachelor lifestyle (he got hot pockets, milk, and cereal–good grief!!).
So we left the dogs and walked back to Brandon’s car, and slid slowly out of the parking lot and then safely back up the road and to the closest grocery. And Brandon very kindly took us (and the pups) back to our house while he went back up the doubly steep hill to his apartment.
No shopping was done. No gifts were made. Nothing truly productive was accomplished. But it was fun, and retrospectively makes for a good story.
And here’s hoping that the old adage, “Winter bites with its teeth, or lashes with its tail.” Is a true one for us this season.
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