Driving in the dark through a snow storm in the middle of nowhere is one of my favorite things. Those flakes tunneling through the air, parting over my windshield makes me feel like I'm flying. My eyes can't help but dance back and forth as I track a flake rushing towards me. I always try to force myself to look down, watch the lines, ignore the spectacle of this dancing white vortex, but I can't help but be mesmerized.
So there I was floating through a Missouri snowstorm and the inevitable happened. The 'it's always the dumb-asses with the SUV's who wipe out' rule coming to call. I was on a bridge, a long one, thinking that I probably should have listened to that voice... The one that said I would be better served to spend the night under a particularly pleasing down comforter with a flannel duvet in Ames rather than brave this road. The one that said funny of him to insist I call when I get home when I know he'll be dead asleep. The same one that had noted that Orion, my constant companion that crossed the sky as I traversed these roads had abandoned me; he was no where to be seen. Beth Orton was softly crooning ever so sweetly as my backend swooned to the left. I turned into it, to no avail and did a one-eighty.
I couldn't help but notice as I was traveling my arc that the snow in my headlight beams as I twirled was all the more disorienting, and ethereal. I recalled that I would surely, eventually bang into something, but the aspect of flying and the trick of the eye in the spectacle before me was strangely soothing. The flakes, once running to meeting me were now hastening away. As luck would have it, there were no headlights to greet me as the passenger side thumped into the guard rail on the bridge, sending my curiously limp body against the door. No air bags. Just the grind of my car coming to rest as Beth played on.
Building 'em up in order to find
What's not lost but left behind
My instinct got bruised, but I still see
I was a victim of being no casualty
Just like coming home...just like coming home
Just like coming home...felt just like coming home
Lost myself in a tangent
So I managed to get my crippled car pointed in the right direction and it hobbled a few yards down the road, past the bridge. My car was utterly incapable of being driven, and as luck would have it, I happened to be in one of the few dead areas in this, our modern, mobile world. Upon inspection of my auto I found myself doused in endorphins, heady with the jolt to my nervous system that had me highly aware of the smell and the soft quiet of the night around me. I was visibly shaking. I stared at my hand, certain they hadn't gotten the wrong idea in Ballard's Crash.
I was soon joined by three men in the dusty night, each extending his hand. Left with no other device I eyeballed my three would-be knights... One in an el camino was a wee bit too eager. Another trucker was hardly worth noticing. My instincts haven't failed me yet, and as I walked across the highway, I asked Steve how far it was to the next town.
I climbed in to his bobtail rig, his companion for the next 20 miles down the road. He was rather tall and round and reminded me of a kindly Hagrid in flannel in my mind's eye. His hair was curly and stuck out at all angles, his beard was scruffy, but his eyes were like bubbles. He begged forgiveness for the clutter in his cab as he quickly cleaned his home on the road. We chatted about the weather, the trucking industry, September 11th and his home. We discussed my getting laid off and the economy and the sagacity of investing in real estate. He offered me a cold drink, but I was too jittery. He told me he'd seen me on the side of the road and had radioed back to the other truckers to slow down traffic. He was a good man. He dropped me off at the truck stop and as he pulled around, he replaced his dark glasses and hat and then waved goodbye.
It's a good thing in this world that one can, on occasion, rely on the kindness of strangers.