OUR TURN: Driving in the snow: What if?
You know that driver that goes 10 miles per hour under the speed limit when the roads are even slightly wet? That one that makes turns super slowly?
They are so annoying.
That driver is me.
But I wasn't always an anxious driver. I'm from Ohio and I survived my first Minnesota winter last year without too much fuss. This year is different. I've never gotten a speeding ticket and I had never been in a car accident. Until Nov. 11, 2017.
I had an early morning flight to Baltimore where I was going to visit my mom. My flight was at 6 a.m., so we woke up in the middle of the night for the long, dark drive to the airport.
The roads weren't great. We'd had some snow but my husband, Gabriel, was taking it slow. Sometime around 4 a.m., I crawled in the backseat next to my 1-year-old daughter, Ada, and tried to get some rest.
What woke me up is something I'll never forget and never want to hear again. Gabriel, gasped and started yelling, "Oh God, oh God, oh God!" I had never heard that level of fear in his voice before. My head snapped up and I saw our headlights illuminating the concrete median barrier as our SUV slid perpendicular to the lanes.
My right arm braced against the car door and my left grabbed the side of Ada's car seat where she lay sleeping. We slammed head on into the concrete median. Then the car started spinning. And we all started screaming.
We spun in circles across all four lanes and ended up smashing the back left-side of the vehicle into the other barrier. The window shattered just behind Ada.
A semi-truck came screaming past just seconds after we cleared that lane.
After a quick assessment that no one was seriously hurt, we slowly drove off the exit about 100 yards ahead and pulled into a gas station. We couldn't get the car door open by Ada's seat because that side of the car was so crunched up. The left back wheel was barely attached. The car was totaled.
I pulled Ada out of her seat, checked her over head-to-toe, held her and cried. She quietly cuddled into me and watched as I shook and tried to catch my breath.
So close. We were so close to total, life-altering devastation.
Gabriel called an Uber and Ada and I just barely made our flight. We were both checked over by a doctor in Maryland and everything was fine. Ada didn't even have a bruise on her. Every muscle in my body was sore from tensing up and I had whiplash and dark bruises from my seat belt.
We got lucky. What if we hadn't cleared the lane before the semi drove past? What if the second guard rail hadn't been there and we flipped off the road? What if the window that shattered would have been above Ada? What if, what if, what if.
These are the scenarios that run through my head when I strap the kids into their car seats and we head into town when it's lightly snowing. I tell myself the roads are clear, that snow is not the enemy and I am in control.
But what if?
So the next time you're frustrated because some non-Minnesotan is being a slow driver in the snow, consider extending them a little grace. That driver could be remembering the last time they almost lost everything because of a little snow.
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"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.