Guess Who I Ran Into On My Way To Work!
James R. Aist
Better safe(er) than sorry!
If you have ever tried to maneuver your car on “black ice”, even on a straight, level road, you should be able to fully appreciate the encounter I am about to share with you. However, this road was covered, not by frozen rain (i.e., black ice), but by a thin coating of fresh snow that had been thoroughly packed down and smoothed out by early morning traffic and then lightly “lubricated” by a layer of thin water created by brilliant sunshine melting the surface of the packed snow, resulting in “white ice.” In this case, however, there was no caution sign.
Here’s what happened. We lived in a very rural area not far from my job at Cornell University. It was a beautiful winter morning, very cold, but caressed by brilliant sunshine. My neighbor across the street had just pulled out ahead of me to drive to his work, also at Cornell. Ours were the only two houses on our road. As I left my driveway heading to work, I began to enjoy the beauty of a light snow that had fallen overnight, now sparkling in the sunlight. Once I turned onto the main road, however, I soon realized that the road surface was “as slick as deer guts on a door knob”, at least as hazardous as black ice. This was white ice!
That’s when I slowed down as an extra precaution, knowing that my braking time would be greatly increased. Then I began to ponder the situation that could develop up ahead, where my neighbor would have to stop ahead of me at a “T” intersection. But, I reckoned he was far enough ahead of me to clear the intersection before I got there, so I relaxed a bit. Then I rounded a corner and could now see all the way to the “T” intersection, and it was not good. My neighbor had stopped at the intersection alright, but he had to wait there for another neighbor coming from his left to clear the intersection before he could turn right and get out of my way! I was already going very slow, but I began to decelerate further, just to be sure I wouldn’t rear-end my neighbor before he could turn right. As I drew closer and closer to the intersection, I became increasingly aware that there was a good possibility that I was going to run into my neighbor on the way to work. That realization inspired me to begin lightly pumping my brakes to get as much traction as possible without fish-tailing out of control, and, hopefully, to avoid a very embarrassing collision on a clear day on a straight, level road with only three cars in sight.
But alack and alas, I was just a teenchy bit too late with the brake pumping, so I began to steer ever so slightly to the left, in hopes I could slip around him to the left and stop before hitting the ditch on the other side of the cross road. And, I almost made it. At a speed of about two miles per hour – it was like slow motion – I clipped his left-rear bumper with my right-front fender. Then, as a result of the impact, I finally stopped, now quite embarrassed to have to look my neighbor in the face after what had I had just done!
The good news is that my neighbor was kind and gracious toward me. He simply popped his bumper back into place and drove off to work, no problem. I, on the other hand, drove off to work with a dent in my right-front fender the size of a volleyball. But, we both got a good chuckle out of this bazaar encounter. After all, how often do you run into your neighbor on your way to work?
(To read more of my short stories, click HERE)