The slide

Photo on 1-24-15 at 8.10 AM

The scene from my window. 8:01 am.

Last night I was driving from Erie to Penn State. It’s about a 3 1/2-hour trek, and midway through the snow started to fall.

At first, I was unalarmed. But then it really started coming down.

thicker …



I was, oh, 45 miles from Penn State, and very few cars were on the highway. Before long, I was unable to see the road. Everything was white. Before I had kids, I—without fail—would have kept driving. Slowly and steadily, yes, but I would have continued.

On this road, though, and on this night, I decided to pull off onto the Clearfield exit and toward the glowing Comfort Inn light. As I turned right onto the ramp, my car started skidding downward. There was an oil tanker about 150 yards away, and the car skidded closer and closer and closed. The brakes weren’t working. I heard my dad’s voice in my head, from long ago. “Pump the breaks! Pump the breaks!” I pumped—nothing.

Kept pumping. Kept pumping.

Finally, about 20 yards from the tanker, my car slowed and, ultimately, stopped.

I like living in California.

2 thoughts on “The slide”

  1. That’s one of the reasons I live in So Cal, too. It is amazing how very slowly the time seems to go when you’re in that situation. Nonetheless, you’re not out of the woods just by virtue of living here now. Southern California drivers are really horrible when it rains. They drive way too fast for conditions. Admittedly, not a lot of rain down here, but when it happens, watch out. Also, it actually does snow in places like Lake Arrowhead, Big Bear, Mammoth, etc. I’ve seen lots of similar skids in those places, even with chains on tires! The difference being, of course, that unless you live there, you have to make a conscious choice to drive to and in the snow. If you live in PA, the choice is made for you by Mother Nature.

  2. You can always put on snow tires or chains.
    Generally people that live with snow and ice can deal with snow and ice.
    When one of those massive LA earthquakes hits you and you are under/over an overpass you are just plain screwed and there is nothing you can do about it.
    I agree with Paul, Californians have no idea that a dusting of water on an oily road is just like ice.

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