Tag Archives: Driving

Black Ice and Faith

My daughter volunteers as an altar server at our church and we were headed there one cold and rainy Sunday morning.

The weather report was predicting dropping temps and freezing rain and my daughter was apprehensive about going.

I was hellbent on going because she had this obligation and we left, disregarding her protests.

I had a front-wheel drive manual shift car with snow tires and I felt unstoppable.

There was a light rain falling and I noticed the temp dropping to freezing on the car thermometer.

The route to church is along a winding hilly road.

I was driving slowly and being cautious around the turns when up ahead an SUV came rambling around a bend going too fast for the conditions.

As the driver maneuvered the curve, the SUV skidded and crossed into my oncoming lane.

With my heart in my throat, I prepared to take evasive action but at the last second the other vehicle gained some control and whipped back into their lane and flew by us.

Yikes! That was close.

I immediately downshifted and avoided hitting the brakes and slowed down considerably.

So that was black ice up ahead and the rain was turning the road to ice as it hit the ground.

I made it through the next curve and went down a hill and we decided we were not making it to church that day.

I made a right at the next intersection and turned around.

I had to decide if I was going to head back home or just wait in the car until the temperature went back up or a salt spreader came by.

I chose the latter and headed back.

The first hill was not too bad but then the next downward dip in the road was scary and we began to slide moving up the next incline.

My tires were spinning trying to gain traction but we were sliding sideways but I knew if we stopped we would be stuck in the middle of the road.

You could actually smell the rubber burning as my tires spun and my daughter was freaking out.

We ended up by someone’s driveway and I hoped we could gain some traction on the shoulder if there was some gravel or dirt on the ground.

The car continued to move forward as I worked the gears but I refused to let off the gas.  We gained some traction and made it slowly up the incline, slipping and sliding along the way.

Good thing we encountered no other traffic as other people were surely wiser than me and decided not to go out in these poor conditions.

We made it home slowly but safely and I don’t think my heart rate slowed down for quite a while.


“Remember, Thou Art Mortal”

Drivers Who Frost My Rage Cake

There are some behaviors on the road that drive me crazy.

And clearly I am not alone.

I read a report recently by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health that cited the results of a random telephone survey of more than 2,400 licensed drivers that asked them about road rage.

The results from the 2004 survey showed that 17 percent of respondents reported they made obscene gestures at other drivers, 9 percent said they aggressively followed other drivers and 3.5 percent admitted to doing both.

I read those numbers and could only shake my head because, based on my experience, they felt way, way too low.

Here are some of the characters behind the wheel you may recognize, almost all of them guaranteed to provoke road rage:

Betty Bumper: This driver appears to have a magnet in the front of her car that is drawn to be connected with your rear fender. She’s driving so close you could help her with the eyeliner she’s applying as she crawls up your tailpipe.

Speed Racer: You can spot this driver from a half mile away just from the speed at which the headlights are zooming toward you. You can just tell he’s going to zip right up to you before he bobs and weaves between cars with just thismuch room to spare.

Shifty: This no-lane-is-good-enough driver reminds me of an entry in a book that I once had called “How To Drive Like A Crazy Bastard.” The first rule was: Do not signal. It’s nobody’s business where you are going.

Lefty the Lost: I understand if you don’t want to speed to go with the flow of traffic. I get it. But for crying out loud, that’s what the right lane is for. Get out of the left lane before you cause a crash.

Shortstop: If you have ever felt what it is like for your heart to stop for a second, you no doubt have encountered one of these drivers. You are on a main road and there is a road off to your right or left that connects at a T with a stop sign at the corner.

You can see a car zooming toward the intersection and you swear you are not really sure if the person is going to stop.

Harry Headlights: This driver might be my all-time most detested. He’s either got a grill full of lights by which you could land a 747 or thinks nothing of riding with his high beams on behind you or coming at you in the opposite lane.

Distracted Debbie: You can see this driver ahead of you, arms flailing, hands gesturing or a cellphone glued to her ear. She’s so animated in conversation with her passenger or with the person on the other end of the phone, you’re not sure she’s knows she’s supposed to be driving.

Perfectionist Pete: This is the guy who thinks his driving is without sin and who is quick to criticize everyone else and…Hey! Wait a minute!

This S*** Just Got Real

Under the heading of “Did that just happen?” comes this development:

Our youngest son (Dan, 16) aced his road test and got his driver’s license.

As a dad, I was aware that he was taking the road test but put it on my mental backburner in the hopes it might fall behind the stove.

Yeah. No such luck.

He nailed the road test on the first try.

Not only that, but he’s saved up enough money to buy a decent used car and is actively searching for one.

There’s a part of me that’s like: Wow! That’s great, Dan! We’re so proud of you. This is really a milestone achievement and a mark of your growing young adulthood and independence.

And there’s another part of me that’s going: Whoa! This shit just got real! Are you ker-azy?! You’re 16. And yes, legally you can drive, but is this really a good idea?

Well, that question got tested tonight when he asked (begged) if he could drive to the nearby McDonald’s to meet a friend for dinner.

It’s an 8-minute drive. For me, it might as well have been 800 miles.

Disclosure: Full, 1,000 percent credit goes to my wife Meg for taking Dan out practice driving in rain storms, in snow, when she was tired, etc. She instilled in him the confidence and experience he needed to do as well as he did.

Me? I was busy doing something that my nerves could better handle like clearing out wasps’ nest — while naked.

So yes, tonight Dan took his first solo drive. In the dark. To McDonald’s.

When I posted this development on Facebook, Super Dad aka About Men Radio contributor Richard Rodriguez, whose oldest has his own car, wrote from experience:

I wish I can skip this part of my kids growing up.

Thankfully, I took Dan’s first solo outing all in stride. As proof:

As I was making dinner, I put the microwave on for 2.5 minutes. And left the bowl of oatmeal that it was supposed to be cooking on the kitchen counter.

And at the same time, I turned on the Keurig to make coffee. And when it was done, I realized that I had l left the previous coffee pouch in the machine and forgot to install a new one, which meant I had a mug of pale brownish fluid.

No, not nervous at all. Why do you ask?

Meg and I talk all the time about parenting and how it’s all about giving our children roots and wings:

Roots so that they feel secure where they are planted, and wings to give them the independence they desire and need.

In the case of tonight, Dan’s short trip was a test flight – one of many more to come.