A foot of snow befell onto the mid-Atlantic states thanks to a polar vortex that lost it’s northern way, and dipped far below the Mason-Dixon line. With temperatures hovering in the low 30’s – the snow was heavy. Add a layer of sleet, and the snow was topped with crunchy ice.
By the time I contemplated the need to move my car beyond the covered comfort of a carport – the snow had managed to weigh in at 50 pounds per shovel load. Multiply this by at least 1000 shovel lifts, and it took only a few feet of clearing to decide, my 100 yard driveway would remain snow and ice, until it thawed. This decision provided a sense of folly and return to Detroit Michigan winter driving skills for my hubby – as he jumped at the chance to drive our 4 wheel drive up and down our steep, curvaceous driveway – to clear a path. I took this time to wrap the soles of my running shoes in a pair of Yak-Trax – and took to the icy neighborhood roadways to get in a much needed run. I waved to my neighbors who were dedicated to lifting the heavy snow and ice from their driveways, and was all to happy to be running in the icy, but semi-cleared roads as opposed to breaking my back shoveling snow. It’s Maryland. Surely, these cold temperatures won’t last but a day or two. The snow and ice will melt, and having a bare pavement driveway seems like such overrated effort. Back to focusing on my run.
But no. The temperatures fluctuated between the mid-30’s during the day, and chilled to bone-numbing 15 degrees at night. Just enough to melt the top of the snow just a tad, before returning it back to a sheet of ice. Our driveway was now snow packed, covered in ice, and more treacherous than ever. There was no hope (outside of the grand thaw) of descending our driveway without a pair of skis or a pair of YakTrax, or someone with the skills of driving on icy frozen landscapes – such as my hubby from Michigan.
For now, no one was allowed to visit. No UPS, not even the postman. Navigating our driveway was impossible, especially for southern souls.
Meet Zy. A contractor I was considering for some home repairs. I told him not to come. I told him to wait another week. The thaw would surely arrive by then. I explained the ‘state’ of my icy driveway. I explained the need for a 4 wheel drive – or at least a Sochi Olympiad speed skater skills. Despite the hex signs I exuded, Zy was undeterred. I relented and allowed a visitor – as long as he leaves his car at the base of the driveway, and walk up the snow covered lawn to the house.
Perhaps I wasn’t clear? Noticing lights outside, I discovered Zy drove his fancy black car with no 4 wheel drive to the summit. Well, almost to the summit. 10 more feet, and Zy would have reached the summit. But no. There would be no further forward movement. The wheels were spinning, and there was no movement in any direction. Zy stepped out of his car. Wearing mens dress shoes. The kind of shoes where the sole is as slick as ice. Not one i-o-da of traction. It was dark outside, and I couldn’t see what Zy was doing – but it took him an incredibly long time to traverse those remaining 10 feet to make it to our house.
After taking some measurements, and discussing the required repairs, it was time for Zy to depart. With my hubby laid up with a foot injury, and me feeling somewhat guilty about the ice along our walkway to the drive, I offered to walk outside with Zy – shining my flashlight on the slippery spots to avoid. To no avail. He fell twice, and would have fallen a 3rd time if I hadn’t stepped in to grab him before hitting the ice again.
“Zy – what kind of shoes are you wearing” I inquired – in somewhat disbelief at how he kept slipping on the ice?
My flashlight was on his shoes. Seriously? Dress shoes? This was not going well.
I managed to walk & hold up Zy as we approached his car, and was evaluating his best options for getting this beast out of my driveway. It was going to be a challenge. With no 4 wheel drive. I suggested that he allow the car to roll backwards, and aim for my turn-around spot – which of course was completely snow covered. “Zy, let me get a shovel, some salt and kitty litter to get you traction”. And off I went to collect what was needed.
I returned to my driveway – only to find that Zy must have been hearing impaired. Not only did he not wait for me to return, he had managed to roll his car off my driveway, 3″ away from a ledge that would put him into a ditch in my neighbors yard.
Practicing deep breathing skills, I asked Zy to put the gear in Park, and stop moving the wheels. I begin the task of trying to break through the ice with my shovel, and rock salt wide areas around his tires. By now, Zy had gotten out of the car, and proceeded to fall – thanks to those dress shoes! Blathering requests with a calm voice, infused with deep breathing, and making eye contact with Zy to not touch anything – this time he promised. I returned to the house with my Yak Trax – and asked Zy if he would like to put these over his shoes. “You won’t fall if you wear these” – I insisted. Zy agreed, but as he attempted to put the YakTrax over the sole of his shoes, I realized he couldn’t reach his toes. Zy was a bit rolly poly, and based on his heavy breathing when not moving, I presumed out of shape. “Let me do this for you”, and without waiting for acknowledgement, I grabbed each of Zy’s feet, and strung the YakTrax from toe to heel. A man who wears dress shoes in the snow and ice is now wearing my YakTrax.
For the next hour, I proceeded to shovel. Zy watched me shovel, and gave me instructions on how to shovel. The man in dress shoes and no-wheel-ice-drive was giving me instructions. Surely this movie is becoming a comedy. I nodded as if I was paying attention, and continued to chip away at the ice. Zy returned to the car, and it was my turn to instruct. “Keep the wheels straight” I chanted, and he proceeded to ignore my instructions, at times getting perilously close to finding his way into a 6 foot ditch.
We continued this dance for at least an hour. My mind was wandering off. I thought about calling for a tow. Yet, would a tow-truck even get this car off of my driveway at this point?
Every now and a then, Zy would spin his car an inch or two closer to getting back on my driveway. Hope returned. I put down new layers of salt and kitty litter traction, and someway, somehow….by 9PM – Zy’s car was back on our driveway. But, not out of trouble. The steepest section of the driveway was still to come, along with a curve. But at least, he is not in the ditch.
It was clear that Zy could not control his vehicle on the conditions of our driveway. Generally, I opt not to drive on our driveway in a 4 wheel drive. But it was time for an intervention. In my calmest, and most self-assured voice – I walked up to Zy, who was sitting idle inside of his car. I looked Zy in the eye, and made a request. “If you will allow me, I will get your car down my driveway safely to the road.” Just like that. As if I knew how to drive his no-wheel drive on a sheet of ice down my driveway. What I did know, is that I stood a better chance at success.
Much to my surprise, Zy opened the driver door, got out, and seemed very happy to hand over the car keys to me. I sat at the drivers seat, strangely confident in my ice-driving abilities, and within 3 minutes – had his car out of my driveway and positioned on the open road. As I stepped out of the driver’s seat, and looked up my driveway, I watched Zy walking slowly down the side of my driveway – no longer falling thanks to those YakTrax. The stress cloud had been lifted. Zy thanked me profusely for eradicating his car from our ice-covered driveway. He could suddenly reach his toes, and returned my YakTrax.
With any luck there won’t be a next time. But when there is, I vowed to shovel my driveway. Before I run.