According to my father-in-law it was conditions. The temperature was hanging around zero, water on the roads, no salt on the ground and a nice fresh layer of hail covering the top. I’d never driven it before. I’ve driven it now.
I’m not going to say nothing was my fault, I’m sure I could have done something to avoid it. Better recognize the conditions I was driving in and wait it out, drive in town instead of taking the on-ramp from the mall onto the highway – I’m sure it’s something I’ll think about for a while and pondering all the “What if’s” of the situation.
As it is I drove to leave the mall as I normally would and turned to take the on-ramp as it was hailing. The hail was coming down heavy and hard and it had seemed to start almost out of nowhere. Even as I drove I thought about turning around and waiting until it stopped. Earlier it had been flurrying and stopped, so surly the hail would stop soon as well. I noticed that the roads weren’t salted as they should have been, but I had already pulled out of the mall. Unless I made a U-turn, I was committed to the route.
I made the turn to pull onto the on-ramp, I wasn’t speeding and I was driving for the conditions. I approached the turn around 20kph, but as I turned the wheel to make the turn the car continued to move forward, a straight line. My brow knit and I looked at the sign I was heading for, I took my foot off the gas, turned the wheel a little harder and slowly pushed the break – not the right move, I know, but all I could think was: “I don’t want to hit that sign.”
Good news, I didn’t hit the sign. I turned, drove over the curb into a giant snow bank and made my turn trough the mound. My wife and I were fine.
No one screamed, cried or cursed as we got out of the car to check our situation. We looked the car over, it’s a front wheel drive model and the tires were packed with snow. We had to dig it out if we wanted to go anywhere and started doing so on our hands and knees, hoping that maybe -maybe- we could dig the damn thing out and drive home. One perk, as soon as I finished the crash the hail stopped.
It was as we were digging, trying to get ourselves out, that our first two hero’s arrived. A young man and woman who parked on the side of the road, put on their four-ways, and come to our aid with a windshield scraper to help us dig out our tires.
These two kind souls – whom neither of us knew – spent about twenty minutes with us trying to dig out our tires and help us push the car back onto the road.
Despite their efforts, it didn’t get us free. We appreciated their help, endlessly so and I wish I could have thanked them more for having taken the time to stop and aid us.
I said I would call my father-in-law, the man whose car I had crashed, and get some help. The pair said they were sorry they couldn’t help us get out entirely and went on their way, but we still appreciated it. I didn’t want to call my father-in-law and tell him what I’d don, but knew I had to. Whatever we needed to do to get the car back onto the road, my wife and I didn’t know what that was. I made the call and my father-in-law said to hold tight he’d be there in a minute.
Giving up, we got into the car, out of the wet and cold and waited.
We didn’t expect another three good-samaritans to come to our aid.
As we sat in the car wishing for a way to get the car out without having to call a tow truck another car pulled to a stop to offer their aid. This one, a wonderful man whom we once again did not know, asked us if we had a shovel. We didn’t – we do now, a gift from this man actually – and this amazing guy who didn’t know us from a hole in the wall got out of his car, popped his trunk, pulled out two shovels and said: “Who wants to help?” It was a HUGE help. We were able to dig out so much more snow than what we had been able to reach while digging with our hands on our knees. As the three of us worked to dig the car out, another amazing individual came to our aid. An older woman showing up with a shovel to give us a hand. Seeing us stranded on the side of the road while driving to the grocery store this awesome woman went home, grabbed a shovel and come out to help dig us out from the snow. We were floored. Honestly floored. I hadn’t thought anyone would take the time to pull over and offer us a hand and here we had already had 4 people come to our aid.
Then my father-in-law and our friend appeared, more shovels in hand and strong backs ready to help dig and push as we tried to rev and free the car.
Sadly, this teamwork wasn’t enough. I’d managed to curb the car in a way that had the tires barely touching the ground. It couldn’t grip at all, just flicking mud and snow every time we tried to push the vehicle free, which meant we were getting to the point of tow truck or nothing at all.
Wouldn’t that be when another amazing person would show up to our aid? Backing his SUV carefully onto the on-ramp and hugging the curb so not to disrupt rush hour traffic, our next hero appeared with a towing rope. It took more digging, we had to clear the bank more to make way for the car to do the back and forth it needed, but this guy managed to get the rope hooked onto the car and pulled us just enough to get our tires touching ground. Once they were down we were able to push, rev, and finally drive free.
It took a group of us, each one doing something different and meaningful and helpful to get my wife and I out of the snow and it was an effort of kindness that is so appreciated. This is a day of people helping people for no reason other than to be nice, decent human beings and it’s one that I will never forget.
I don’t’ know any of these random human beings who stopped on their way home to get out of their nice warm cars and help me shovel my way out of the snow, lying in slush and ice to give me a hand digging out tires and the underbelly of my car free, but I will always remember them.
To these nameless hero’s of HRM, thank you.
—The woman who crashed a white car with a clown nose