Picture driving along at your usual fast clip after visiting your daughter in Brooklyn, New York, headed back to New England, when just ahead you start seeing grey clouds and precipitation right around Hartford, Connecticut. Picture everything grinding to a slow crawl as snow accumulates on the road surface, with no plows in sight, nor any salt, nor any sand. Picture frequent flashing lights and overturned vehicles of all shapes and sizes on the side of the road as your own tires struggle to gain traction. Picture eventually being only guided by the red lights of the vehicle ahead of you, and positioning yourself behind the largest truck you can find because its 18 wheels and huge tires are more likely to clear an adequate path for you. You figure if you can still read its 3 Sigma logo on the back, you're okay.
In Connecticut, the most traveled lane is the far right, so you stick to it with the truck. You pray for the signs leading to the Mass Pike, and they take an inordinate length of time to appear. Your windshield wipers are pumping at their highest speed, yet it's still like looking through bubble wrap. You have to keep going, because if you stop anywhere, you'll simply be buried in snow. You have just enough gas to get home, no food, and a little water. When you pull off at a rest area to grab some pretzels and Raisinettes, by the time you get back to the car it's covered in three inches of wet, sticky, uncooperative whiteness.
Your wheels spin helplessly as you get back on the road. The Pike signs finally appear, you go through the toll booth, and your windshield wipers, which have accumulated a few too many molecules of ice, give one last whimpering swipe and then shudder to a halt. You stop under an underpass with cars and trucks whizzing by you to attempt to fix them, no luck.
Fortunately, this is Massachusetts, so the most traveled lane is the far left, where you can go as fast as you can handle. You blast the defrost on as high and hot as it will go to melt the precipitation gathering on the windshield, and you quickly discover that if you accelerate to 50-plus miles per hour, the very wind pressure will move the moisture away so that you can see. However, you're driving this way when all the other cars and trucks around you are at a crawl, the unplowed, unsalted, unsanded snow is about a foot deep, and red lights appear before you at a moment's notice.
White knuckled on the steering wheel, you press forward, aware that this is possibly the most dangerous driving you've ever done—more so than the narrow winding mountain roads on the California coast or the surface streets of Los Angeles during the riots. But you have to get home. You breathe deeply and stay focused. You pray for the other cars as you pass them, for your momentary encounter to be uneventful and safe. You pray that the driving you have to do doesn’t endanger anyone else. You pray that the nice officer will understand if he pulls you over to ask what the hell you're doing. But it turns out they actually have more important things to do.
Soon, you have only ten miles to go. Then six, then four. Then at last you see your exit to Framingham. You settle in behind some red tail lights and let them guide you down streets and through intersections all the way to your steep, slick driveway, where, mercifully, you can still slide right into the garage. And you're home.
That was my Thursday, how was yours? I really miss California right about now…
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