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Let's face it, the weather lately has been really, really awful, even for here. I like snow as much as the next New Englander, but I like it spread out over a longer period of time than we have experienced recently. Generally, I like having time to get what has already fallen out of my way before more is dumped on me.
Unfortunately, I have had to do a lot of driving in our recent onslaught of snow and it has not been fun. In fact, it has been agonizingly stressful. I'm not a wimp about driving in the snow but doing it on a daily basis is not pleasant. I feel as if I have barely had time for my driving anxiety to wear off before I am back in the saddle fighting nature in a quest to get to either work or home. I live about a half hour from where I work, or I used to. Lately I find that I live an hour or more away from my job because that is how long it is taking me to get there.
The very first storm of the year back in November was a doozy. Both my son and I were working at night and by the time we headed home there were more accidents and downed trees and power lines than we could count. The roads were largely unplowed and we found our path trapped by a huge truck that had jackknifed across the road bringing everything to a halt and blocking the road home. We were informed by a beleaguered police officer that we might as well turn around because there was no way we were going forward. We ended up having to spend the night in town, an expense we didn't need, with no change of clothes or a toothbrush. This was probably bad planning on our part, but it was more of a storm than anyone had anticipated. After an hour of helping other people with cars stuck in snow we were cold, wet, and miserable. It was one of those occasions when a hot shower seems like the single greatest inventions ever conceived by man.
Subsequent driving in storms has been both terrifying and awful, but this last one took the cake. I left work and the 5 minute trip to my son's job took close to half an hour. When I arrived at his job he was waiting at the door. When he got in the car he informed me that one of the car's headlights was out. Oh joy. Ten o'clock at night in a snow storm and I needed a new headlight. Yippee. I informed him that we would just have to tough it out with one headlight (at least we still had the high beam), and turned on my windshield wipers to remove the snow that had built up while I waited for him to get in. That's when one of the wipers fell off.
We tried valiantly to get it back on but it was hopeless. I have never had it happen before in years of driving, but it was well and truly broken. Isn't plastic wonderful? I couldn't believe it. How was it possible that I could have two such unrelated car disasters happen simultaneously and in the dark of night in the middle of a storm? Was I cursed? Had I done something really awful that merited dire punishment that I couldn't remember? Did I at least have fun when I did it?
There was no helping it; we were going to have to just man-up and try to get home without ending up in a ditch or plowing into a utility pole. I told my son that we were just going to have to gird our loins and go for it. The snow was coming down fast and blowing directly into the windshield, which made having only one wiper particularly awful. When I am driving in these conditions I find myself somewhat tense. With only one wiper and one headlight I was experiencing tension on a whole new level. Let's be honest, my jaw was clenched so tight I could have opened a beer bottle with my teeth.
I told my son to talk to me, which for some reason, I usually find helps with the anxiety.
“Have you noticed that when you turn on the high beams it kind of looks like how they depict entering hyperspace in science fiction movies?” he asked?
It looked more like zero visibility to me. I pointed out that if we were in hyperspace we would have been home before he had finished his sentence and asked him to chose a new topic for discussion.
“Where does the expression, 'girding one's loins' come from, anyway?” he asked.
Good question. We discussed the various possibilities for the origin of the expression, with some hilarious possibilities, for the rest of the hour and a half long trip home. Oddly, it kept me sane.
The kid wasn't wrong, driving with the high beams on did kind of look like hyperspace in a science fiction movie and we looked up loin girding when we got home. It comes from the time when men wore long robes and pulled them up and tucked them in a belt so that they didn't impede mobility in battle, which proves three things: that it probably isn't a great idea to wear a long dress into battle, that there is something to be said for owning a good belt, and that even in adversity, there can be opportunity to learn new stuff.
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