Joanne Palmer: A piece of holiday luck
December 23, 2009
Steamboat Springs — I had an early Christmas miracle.
Last week, as I drove down U.S. Highway 40, my Ford SUV skidded on a patch of ice, and I lost control. I swerved into the oncoming lane and headed straight for a Subaru. I yanked the steering wheel hard to the right and put my SUV into a 180. I kept waiting for it to stop. I was sure my car would stop. Stop. Please stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. Spin, spin, spin. Then I felt the back tires go over the edge of an embankment.
Please let this not be happening.
After 20 years of living here, I've driven in every possible hazardous snow condition. I've driven at night, hypnotized by swirling snow. I've gripped my steering wheel when strong gusts of wind threatened to slingshot me off the road. I've driven in bitter cold temperatures when I was sure my feet would freeze to the floor. I've slid through a few stop signs, come close to tapping a fender or two but never had a serious winter driving accident.
Until last week.
Poof! The back of my SUV landed in a pile of snow. That was the good news. The bad news was my car looked like a teeter-totter with half of it in the snow and the other half pointed toward the sky. The midsection was precariously balanced on a retaining wall.
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I grabbed my phone and jumped out of the car into knee-high snow.
The people I'd almost hit were gazing down at me. They were nice enough to stop, turn around and stop to check on me.
"Are you OK?"
"I'm fine. Did I almost hit you? You? The owners of Chocolate Soup?"
What if I had hit them? People I knew? Parents? Bakers of the best croissants in the entire world?
I felt sick.
They hauled me over the wall (no small task), and we admired the rakish angle of my car. A state trooper arrived, and I babbled about how I had not, for once, been talking on my phone and I had not been speeding and I couldn't believe my car. He called the tow truck and politely listened to me ramble on.
I waited for my neighbor, the tow truck man, to arrive. We only know each other because his cat, Cooper, likes to sneak into my house. My dog chases every cat in the neighborhood except Cooper. Cooper is a big white cat with an even bigger attitude, and Cooper sails through the dog door whenever Cooper darn well pleases. The tow truck man also has a Dalmation, and we see each other frequently on our nightly dog walks.
"Aw, hon," he said when he arrived. "I like to see you out walking your dog, not like this."
I have to admit I collapsed onto this man's chest and wailed, "I almost hit someone. Now look at my car. Look where it is."
"Aw, hon," he said kindly, patting my back. "There ain't nothing wrong with your car. We'll get it out of there for you."
True to his word and with the help of a flatbed truck, he got the car out without a scratch.
I didn't get a ticket. I didn't get hurt. My son wasn't in the car. I didn't hit the good folks from Chocolate Soup. And my car, miraculously, still runs.
I am so grateful for my Christmas miracle.