I may not be an all-wheel drive, but I’m up for any challenge and last night my goal was to get my girl home.
She got in and we left Rolla close to 8:30 p.m. as a few snow flurries danced sporadically on the wind. My girl’s man had warmed me up and cleaned my windshield (thank goodness), so I was ready to go. As soon as we hit Hwy 63, the sporadic flurries had been replaced by a steady stream of fat flakes. My girl called her roommate. This was the first indication that she was aware of possible risk. Her mom trained her to make sure as many people as possible knew our whereabouts and ETA whenever I took her out. The roommate warned Columbia’s roads were not so great.
I knew this was all about timing. It wasn’t bad yet here, but it might be down the road. I wanted to get my girl in at a decent hour and I didn’t want her to rush me when the roads were bad. So we covered as much ground as we could while the streets were still clear. She loves this ride and I let her have fun with it. But by the time we reached Vienna, snow was sticking like crazy and we had to tone it down. Patience was key from there on out.
While my girl sang along to Ludo, I carefully calculated momentum. Fast enough to get up hills, slow to maintain control on the downhill. We were taking our time. This wasn’t a slalom. It’s a good thing my windshield was clean, but I was still half-blind from all the flying snow. I peeked out my brights, but as I suspected, they were no good. They illuminated every flake driving at us and distracted from the road. I kept my wheels in ruts; I couldn’t tell where the road stripes were anymore. Good thing I know that road well.
If you saw my girl, you wouldn’t think she was fazed. She was still singing — now it was Jimmy Eat World. She looked fine, but I could feel the slight tension in the small of her back as she sat straight in the seat. I could feel the pressure of both hands firmly gripping my wheel. She’s often a one-hander when she’s enjoying the ride. She wasn’t messing with the ipod, either. The same four songs played over and over. Pain, Chase this Light, Get it Faster and Work. Good thing she loves them. No matter how many times they replayed, she kept singing, sometimes trying new harmonies. Every now and then I lost traction and she felt it. “Easy, there. You’re good,” she’d encourage me in the soothing voice she uses with me when I get the shudders. She was not scared, just very alert.
I was not scared, either. I’m grateful that we were riding on four new tires, thanks to a blowout a few months back. I’m grateful that my girl’s man shopped around and dickered on a better price so we’d have some deep tread and high quality traction between us and the street. Or at least between us and the snow. Visibility got even worse near Jeff City. I was trying to navigate exclusively in the right lane, but there didn’t seem to be lanes anymore. Just two tracks and a bumper to follow. But I got caught behind a semi and it was throwing snow all up in my face. I was wary of passing, but I really couldn’t see. Cautiously, I eased over to the left, onto virgin snow. Gradually, we crept past the truck and slipped back into the right side ruts. Success! I could see much better.
On the other side of Jeff City, we were making pretty good time. Others came up behind us and thought it best to follow rather than pass. I proudly hauled with my four cylinders, a 14-year-old Ford Probe blazing the trail. I wasn’t gonna mess this one up; I had a lot to prove. My girl needed to get home and there were a lot of people who would blame me if she didn’t make it. There was her boyfriend, who told her she should have bought a friend’s Ford Ranger instead of me. Her dad, who constantly told her not to trust me or take me anywhere. Everyone remembered my little transmission mishap. But I’ve been better since then. My girl loves me and I’m there for her when she needs me. I was going to deliver her safely.
Ashland was a relief — so close, but we weren’t home free yet. Columbia hadn’t seen a plow. As I turned onto Broadway, we slid a little in the intersection. But my girl and I kept our cool and pulled it off like pros. Finally, we rolled triumphantly into my girl’s lot. She smiled proudly. I heaved a sigh of relief and closed my eyes as my girl got out and headed inside. We made it.