Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Offensive Winter Driving



If you’ve never had a fear of driving in winter weather, a surefire way to gain that fear is to wake up in a death spin on an icy bridge to see your sister frantically turning the steering wheel this way and that way and this way like she’s in a bumper car at Kennywood, all the while screaming like a howler monkey.

It began ten years ago on an icy bridge in the middle of hell. In this case, hell is Arkansas. It was early January when my sister and I were driving back to college in Texas. An hour or so from Texarkana, heading for the Texas border, my sister was driving our little college car, a tiny blue Mercury Tracer, while I slept soundly in the passenger seat. It was mid-morning. Cold.

My sister’s terrified, drawn-out, blood-curdling scream is what pulled me from my sleep. I opened my eyes to realize that the car was spinning and I thought, “This seems … not right.” My life was centrifugally flashing before my eyes.

My sister, not realizing temperatures were falling, had hit the bridge doing 65 mph, hit her brakes, and there we spun around what felt like 500 times before we spun off of the bridge just before an 18-wheeler had a chance to clip us, and we skidded backwards (with the car in drive) for what felt like a football field. The car finally came to a stop and then the REAL screaming started.

From that day on, I have had The Fear. I’m one of Those People. I hate driving in the snow, the ice, the rain, THE PRECIPITATION!

I do fine in rain, but yeah, I’m that girl that always has her windshield wipers on one speed faster than every other car on the road.

If it’s raining and my car’s outside-temperature gauge shows a number even three degrees from freezing, I become terrified of bridges. I drive over them slowly, with my hand hovering over the gear shift because I have somehow convinced myself that if I start to spin out, perhaps throwing this bad boy into neutral will make it all better. Neutral sounds nice and calm. What horrible things could possibly happen in neutral?

Once, in Louisville on the way home to Pittsburgh for Christmas, again in that little Tracer, again with my sister, but this time with me behind the wheel, we were stuck in a storm that was dumping snow on the highway at an incredible rate. My fear of PRECIPITATION! had driven me to research tips for driving safely in WEATHER! and one of the things I remembered reading was that “sometimes less is more.” Don’t overcorrect. Don’t slam on your brakes. Take it easy.

So when I hit the snowdrift, I thought to myself, “If less is more, then nothing is the MOST!” I took my foot off of the pedal and rested it on the floor of the car and I took both of my hands from their white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel and I just kind of held them up in the air like a just-scrubbed surgeon. And as the snow drift started to eat the car and carry it, my sister screamed, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! ARE YOU NUTS?! DRIVE!” and I said calmly, “Less is more. Stay calm. Take it easy. Let it happen.”

It was a long time before I was allowed to drive in PRECIPITATION on our trips to and from home again.

Now, here we are in the throes of Snowmageddon and I read the story of the Burgher who was driving on the Parkway West in the snow storm, got scared, felt like she just couldn’t go on, and since the side of the road was impassable due to two feet of snow, she stopped her car right there smack dab in the right driving lane. Just said, “I quit,” forcing all of the other drivers to frantically veer around her.

When the cops reached her to find out what the problem was, they found her calmly reading a book and she explained the situation with the PRECIPITATION to them. She was driving. It got scary. She stopped driving. The end.

She obviously subscribes to the “nothing is most” theory like I do.

Everyone in Pittsburgh is laughing at this woman, and while I would never go so far as to just stop driving on the Parkway in the middle of a storm, I have to admit that a part of me is all, “I oughta start a support group with that lady.”

We can sit around and swap scary driving stories like we’re telling fish stories (The snow flakes were as big as VOLLEYBALLS!). We’ll only meet during the warm months and only if the weather forecast calls for a zero percent chance of PRECIPITATION!

Ah, this is Pittsburgh weather we’re talking about here. Maybe we’ll just Skype.

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Mobile Service To Connect Hungry Pitt Students to Free Food

PittGrub app will send folks in need to events with leftovers.

What's It Like When You Go from Laborer to Being The Boss?

Pitt's Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence has been teaching business strategies to startups and century-old companies for 25 years.

The 400-Word Review: The Equalizer 2

An unnecessary sequel to the Denzel Washington action flick arrives for a quick beat-em-up fix.

The 400-Word Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

The sequel to the 2008 ABBA musical is far from perfect, but might have enough charm to keep you on board.

You're Going to Be Upside Down a Lot on New Kennywood Coaster

Kennywood has revealed its replacement ride for “The Log Jammer” which will be located in a new portion of the park entitled “Steelers Country.”

Restaurant Review: Poulet Bleu

Richard DeShantz steps it up with a move from Downtown to Lawrenceville and shows Pittsburgh how to make French dining fun.

Pittsburgh to Host Nation’s First Black Beer Festival

Day Bracey and Ed Bailey of Drinking Partners Podcast and Mike Potter of Black Brew Culture online magazine will bring 12 black-owned breweries to Pittsburgh in August for Fresh Fest.

Coming Clean: Why We Aren't a Green City ... Yet

Pittsburgh is no longer a smoky city, but that doesn’t mean it has cleaned up its act. Pittsburgh's air quality still ranks among the worst in the nation. What steps are being taken to reduce Pittsburgh's ongoing dependence on fossil fuels?

Ultimate Comfort Food: The Joy of Dumplings

Why our dining critic thinks dumplings might be his ultimate comfort food.

Our Seven Favorite Dumplings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, of course, is best known for the pierogi. Our love of dumplings extends beyond that, however. These seven dumplings are our favorite restaurant versions of their various styles.

The Tailor's Dumpling: Kreplach

A Pittsburgh chef and his family continue to craft a family recipe with roots in Poland.

The Pittsburgh Region's Top Dentists 2018

Our annual list, which contains 376 dentists across 11 specialties, as determined by topDENTISTS.

A Weekend Mission of Mercy in Pittsburgh

More than a thousand people come to PPG Paints Arena once a year for free dental care, thanks to an ambitious, all-volunteer effort.

Jump Into the River: Open Waters Beckons Strong Swimmers

It takes a strong swimmer and the right timing to dive into the three rivers. for those up to it, the difference between the pool and open water is profound.

Pirates Are Still a Long Way From a Hollywood Ending

Despite an 8-1 winning streak going into the All-Star break, the Bucs are in desperate need of a sequel, not only to win back some credibility with fans, but also to convince their owner not to sell off more pieces of the team.