This Side of the Pond – Jan. 23

By Sarah Pridgeon

As your intrepid and dedicated reporter, it falls to me to ensure that no obstacle stands in my way of an important story. To that end, I have navigated rain, wind and flooding to get to my goal in good time – I’ve even learned to read a map. But after suffering my inaugural snow crash, I must now draw the line at freak blizzards.

If I hadn’t spent the last year as the constant butt of weather-based jokes, I might have stayed at home the other morning, when Sundance became the target of a strangely concentrated snow shower. I might have looked out of the window to see nothing but a blanket of white – both in the air and on the ground – and opted to wait by the front door until my vision had cleared.

If I spent less of my time deflecting mockery regarding my snow-driving abilities, I might not have felt obliged to trudge through several feet of virgin snow towards my vehicle. I might have waited until the snow stopped falling before I tried to clear it from my windshield.

Perhaps, if I wasn’t automatically assumed to be the first and best candidate for a snow-based disaster, I wouldn’t feel compelled to prove everybody wrong. Maybe I would have spent a little more time digging out a scarf and a little less time mustering my courage.

Perhaps I would have listened to the wisdom of my friends, who were filling social media with their reluctance to hit the roads. Perchance my husband would have noticed me fleeing the premises instead of assuming that nobody in their right mind could be so stupid as to head out into a snowstorm.

Unfortunately, none of these things are the case. I did indeed wake up to a white-out and I did decide to venture outside regardless. And so I did, as you might have predicted, suffer the consequences.

As with so many things in life, I’ve learned that snow driving is all about determination. I started as I meant to go on by circling the car three times with the ice scraper because there was just as much snow once I’d finished as there had been when I started.

I was soaked to the skin, almost to the knees, and my nose was a bright shade of crimson. I could no longer put up the hood of my coat without setting off a tiny avalanche, but I was not to be deterred. I scrambled out of a snowdrift, climbed into the driver’s seat and set off on my ill-advised journey.

I’d barely moved three feet before I realized why there was nobody else on the roads. Not only was I unable to tell the difference between the sky and the road, I couldn’t work out what was road and what was my neighbor’s back yard.

Having used the heating mechanism to clear my windshield of ice, the snowflakes were now turning to water as soon as they landed, which added the exhilaration of driving through a rainstorm. The scenery was already completely devoid of features and now blurred beyond my ability to focus.

Still undaunted, I wiggled down the driveway and onto the road – or, at least, onto what I assumed was the road. The rest of the town having been wise enough to stay indoors, there weren’t even any tire tracks to follow. Still, I felt sure I could rely on muscle memory to guide me.

Apparently, my muscle memory is about as much use as my spatial memory. I made it approximately halfway down the canyon before I lost the road entirely and ground to an embarrassing halt. What had appeared to be the road turned out to have been a ditch, and I was now securely fastened inside it.

I had little choice but to call the rescue team out, which meant forcing my long-suffering husband, my uncle and my cousin out into the unpleasantness. It’s just as well that I had stopped, very appropriately, right in front of a Stop sign or I wouldn’t have been able to identify my location.

While I waited for them to arrive, I sent a text message to your editor to let him know why I hadn’t bothered to turn up for work. I did so reluctantly, knowing full well that my colleagues would find at least a month of mockery mileage in this latest bad decision.

Sure enough, the response soon arrived. “Been taking the concept of driving on the right-hand side of the road a little too literally again, have we?” he said.

He claims that he only turned up ten minutes later carrying the camera because he was on his way to shoot a picture for the front page, but I know better. He was recording the incident for later amusement and is probably at this very moment chuckling at images of my predicament.

Meanwhile, the rescue team arrived and set about digging me out of my hole. It wasn’t a moment too soon; as if to add to my misery, the sun had come out to make it difficult to argue that poor visibility had been to blame.

I’d hoped to put the whole sorry incident behind me without ever being spotted, but the roads were again in use and I was attracting a fair amount of attention – and pity – from the sidelines. This turned out to be a positive thing when the vehicle attempting to tow me was pulled towards the ditch as well.

Thankfully, the rescue team was then bolstered by a kindly motorist with a slightly more powerful truck, but even he slipped and slid precariously across the ice while my vehicle inched unwillingly towards the road. Only with great skill and grit did he eventually prove victorious.

The way was once more clear but, thanks to a communal decision from the rescue team, I was designated as a passenger for the remainder of the journey. I can’t say I particularly minded.

They say that you can never really know whether you’re good at something until you try it. Well, I know that the first resolution on my list as the new year began was to improve my snow driving, but I’m afraid that I may have broken it. Being a Brit, I can hydroplane with the best of them, but I’ve discovered that navigating blizzards is not really fair on my neighbors.