Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Life Lesson # 47,923

Say you happen to be getting into work earlier than expected and, noting the gas tank could use a topping off and that the exterior of the car, given all the road salt sprayed onto it over the past few weeks, is looking like that loaf of bread you found pushed to the back of the cupboard and left to turn dark gray and fuzzy, you decide to give the car a little love.

You fill the tank in the dark, single-digit-degrees-F, pre-dawn and request the slip for a car wash-with-purchase.

As you pull the car into the automatic washing bay, your only defense against your actually congratulating yourself for not having to wait in line for an hour for a wash, by doing it this dark and early, is that you have only had one cup of coffee and are diverted by listening to your Harry Potter CD (thanks, Cagey, for urging me to get these). Blissfully, you sit there, listening to the trials of poor Harry, while the machine pummels your car with alternating blasts of water and soap.

You have, need it be said, also forgotten that the exit of the carwash is at the bottom of an incline.

An incline, at the bottom of which is where all the gallons of water that have dripped off the hoards of cars that were washed last night, has instantly frozen into a solid sheet of thick ice?

Ice that has not been salted by the poor wretches that man the gas/wash/mini-mart at this hour of the morning?

The exit door of the carwash, of course, has closed, so you cannot retrace your route. Even if it were open, the entrance door had closed as soon as you had entered the bay.

Can you also have really forgotten to put the bag of kitty litter back in your trunk for the winter? The bag that you purchased a few years ago for just such an occasion, to provide traction on packed snow and ice?

Can you thank your lucky stars, guardian angel, all the saints, and the smiling of face of each of the 9 fates that a mere 10 minutes later you actually made it up the incline rather than down into the ditch at the back of the incline?

I'm thinking that qualifies for a Christmas miracle and I should be branded a dolt.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh for... That's why you need, you simply must move to Portugal! Rural USA is lethal, I tell you, lethal. Also, we have no central heating so we freeze the whole winter and that makes for some rugged living, in case you thought we were all softies.

Charles can start packing when he wakes up at 4 am, yes? Bless.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A miracle indeed. Am glad you are ok and trust the car is too?
I did not know about kitty litter being good for traction. :)

10:19 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Johnny- See, as my car's tires were spinning ineffectively in the ice, I was thinking, "Johnny would be absolutely horrified at this." See, Charles, being until recently full of the blood of the Great White North, adores this. The wretched man hates the heat. I will be flying in solo. Pick me up at the airport in 90 minutes? Bless back. (Please note that I'm at work and wearing thick gloves at my desk when not typing. Bah.)

Sanjay- Yeah! it's great! Just pour some in front of the tires and, voila!, instant traction. (The car's dandy, thanks for asking, just a little shaken and needing a bit of a lie down, but after a day's rest in the parking lot, ready for the drive home; through the snow drifts that had blown across the highway. Bah.)

11:12 AM  
Blogger Cagey said...

I love how both Harry Potter and kitty litter were integral parts of your 2006 Christmas Miracle.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having spent a bit of time in Greenland, the only "tragedy" I could imagine would be your wet car freezing solid with no way for you go get out and the windshield going opague. We use to wash cars inside and then let them dry overnight up in the great white/dark north.

The Ole RF-er

12:36 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Oh, dear. Glad you're okay.

I am, of course, laughing because only you could make this so entertaining.

I'm going to Portugal with you. So there. I miss it, especially now with the stupid cold.

12:38 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...

Winter driving. What not-fun. If you have a small space to get started and need speed to get up an incline, it could be all day. Glad you made it up the incline and to work. Tell me, the doors didn't freeze shut, did they? That would be my luck in the winter with a car wash.

5:53 PM  
Blogger listmaker said...

Glad you're ok. I think we'll be acquiring some kitty litter for RT's car. He had his first experience with ice yesterday.

I've sworn off those automatic car washes for the winter. Last year Spouse got caught in one when the automatic door froze shut.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

No, no, no, you are NOT a dolt.

A lack of proper caffination will do that to just about everyone...

Well, maybe not the ice slick part, but the part about being just muddle-headed enough to fail to consider the consequences.

(I usually find myself congratulating myself for what a good decision I'm making, right before it all goes terribly wrong...)

11:40 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Cagey- What's a Christmas tale without kitty litter and H.P?

Dad- I remember that one cold Dec in PDX, maybe 20 years ago when Charles had that wretched job washing trucks for UPS all night, outside. They'd spray the water on, which would freeze on contact, spray the soap on, which would freeze on contact, and spray the rinse water on, which would make the 3rd frozen layer. Don't know if the drivers could get into the trucks the next morning or not...

Dana- See what you're missing by not having a car? I bought you and Beth seats next to me on the plane. I hate to travel alone, you know.

Beth- I had never thought of the doors freezing shut. Another miracle! The incline does a dog-leg to the right right out of the exit from the carwash bay. I don't know how I managed it.

Listie- Good idea on both accounts. In the future, I'll only go during mid-day, when all is nicely salted and warmed up by all the cars ahead of me. If I get caught in one, at least there'll be a line of mad drivers behind me to sound the alarm and free me.

Teri- Sadly, yes, yes a dolt, but I adore you for making me feel better.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It exhausts me just to have to recall the hell it is to drive a car in the winter in the Midwest. Snowbanks, sheets of ice, the streets with an inch thick coating of salt on them.

Good thing your life is otherwise perfect, or this winter thing might be getting your Pacific Northwest soul down.

2:33 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

We avoid all this by just not ever washing our car all winter! I often forget what colour it is!

7:22 PM  
Blogger Babs said...

Washing cars is silly.

Our writing skills got better year after year via surreptitious scrawling of curse words into the dust on the back of the station wagon.

Incidentally that was also how we learned to master the art of 'blaming your sibling'

1:44 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Rozanne- Yes. In Portland, people mostly just stay in and enjoy it, watching it all melt. Yeah. Good thing for perfection. Actually, I love the snow. The temps below 10F, I could do without, but that's my only quibble, and with global warming, who knows? That could be a non-issue in a few years.

Ruth- You are a wise, wise woman!

Beth- Yes, it's silly, and we are silly people. It's good to be able to forge other people's curse word writing.

7:33 AM  

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