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

The Latest

Pitt Attaches Old-School Signature to Narduzzi’s Championship Prediction

Thanks to wide receivers recognized for their blocking ability and an offensive line endearingly referred to as “knuckleheads“ –– the Panthers are one win away from making their head coach's bold pre-season prediction a reality.

Pittsburgh Restaurant News: Reduced Hours and a Chef Change

Two Oakland restaurants now have shorter hours and a chef moves from Downtown to Lawrenceville.

What Unites Us In the Wake of the Tree of Life Tragedy

We asked local faith leaders for their response to the massacre at Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill –– and how we can come together and more forward as a community.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Review: Molinaro Ristorante

Ron Molinaro's Downtown restaurant offers high-end Italian dishes made with top-notch ingredients, but is it worth the price premium?

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2018 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine highlights the unsung heroes of the health care field: our Excellence in Nursing honorees, chosen by our panel of distinguished judges in the field.

Nursing Shortage in Pittsburgh Calls for Creative Solutions

RetuRN to Practice entices retired nurses back Into the field.

Fine Art Meets High Fashion at the Carnegie International

With the Carnegie International as the backdrop, we feature work by local fashion designer Elaine Healey, who has been morphing from luxury womenswear to a more “non-binary” style.

The 400-Word Review: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

While Harry Potter diehards will find more than enough sustenance in the sequel, non-devotees may have a rough time following the action.

Pittsburgh's Tomorrow – What We Need in the Future

As the year comes to a close, we look forward to what Pittsburgh can be –– and what we'd like to see change –– in the coming years.

How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

Our guide to produce, pastries, libations and more will help your table brim with tasty treats from Pittsburgh-area businesses.

Drink Like the French on Beaujolais Nouveau Day

Why and where to celebrate on Thursday, which marks the annual release of the young wine.

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

She thought she was going on a simple scavenger hunt. She never dreamed it would end with a wedding.

Pittsburgh Just Dodged the Amazon Bullet

We should be relieved that the tech giant opted not to move in.

It's Official: Amazon HQ2 is Not Coming to Pittsburgh

Instead of one city, the giant retailer is splitting its second headquarters between northern Virginia and New York City.

Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

The Portland, Ore-based lighting and furnishings store, which shares space with a high-end coffeehouse from the team behind The Vandal restaurant, is located in East Liberty's Detective Building.