Snowed In

If you’ll recall, in 2011 the Midwest (and maybe the entirety of North America) suffered what many titled the “snowpocalypse.” It was a winter storm that halted traffic, stopped school and blanketed cities with a meter of snow.

In Chicago, the winds were 50mph and Lake Michigan’s waves reached 25 feet. When it hit, Lakeshore Drive (the main highway along the lake) was crammed with commuters and completely buried. Some people waited until 4am to be taken by fire truck. In the end, 900 cars were abandoned.

Others anticipated the “blizzaster” and frantically stocked up on convenience store supplies. It was Y2K all over again. Or as some called it, “Y2-chaos.”

In the midst of  “snowmageddon,” I had only been living in Chicago for a month.

This means that only a few weeks prior, I didn’t know how to take a bus, hail a cab, ride the EL, drive in the city or navigate downtown. In fact, I still didn’t know how to navigate anywhere but my apartment and work.

I was unwise to city ways and it made me stupid.

A few days after the “snow-tastrophe” I was supposed to drive to Michigan and see my family. But that was impossible with my tightly wedged car buried up to the windows.

Maybe a wiser city slicker would’ve know that, at 9 o’clock at night the day before departure, the car was a lost cause. Well, not this girl!

I thought I could shovel my way out. I’m not sure why I thought this was a possibility because I didn’t even own a shovel. But, I figured I could buy one. Actually, first I tried to use my ice scraper. After climbing on top of my car in the numbing and bitter cold, I was able to uncover the roof and sides. That’s some true determination!

But then I looked at the 10 foot radius behind my car and succumbed to the realities of needing an actual shovel.

There were a couple places within walking distance that sold them, but remember when I said people stocked up the day before? Well, everyone was sold out of shovels except Home Depot. It was not within walking distance.

I didn’t think a giant landscaping tool would fit in a cab and, honestly, I might have been too cheap for it, so I took a bus.

But there’s no bus that goes directly to Home Depot and I naively took the sketchiest route possible. I trudged through the snow on a dimly lit side street by an industrial district. A car drove by and flashed it’s lights at me. I was later told (and disgusted to hear) each flash is how many 10 dollar bills they’d pay to sleep with you.

Since I only got two flashes, I have to assume it was the speed bump’s impact that did the flashing. I mean, c’mon!

[Loving parents, if you are reading, accept this as my formal apology for being secretively irresponsible. I know I never told you, and finding out through a public posting is not ideal, but I’m alive and you should be happy. Sincerely, Cassie.]

The walking only went on for a block and I arrived safely at Home Depot.

I was in there for a good half hour trying to decide which shovel was worse: the one made of cheap plastic or the one whose handle bent awkwardly? Clearly, all the good shovels had been purchased.

I opted for the “ergonomic” one even though the handle was annoying. I knew it’s stronger frame and metal edge could withstand the serious shovelfest that was about to occur.

With my new information about the first bus route, I took a different one back.

If you’ve ever wondered how socially acceptable it is to tote a giant shovel onto public transportation, I can tell you it’s not that bad. At least not at 11 o’clock at night. There was enough room to fit a hundred shovels on that bus!

[Hello? Oh you are reading right now? Well, that’s unexpected. Yes, 11 o’clock is very late to be out alone in the dead of  winter. Again, I’m sorry. At least I was armed with a weapon then. An ergonomic one too. Fighting attackers couldn’t be more comfortable!]

I was freezing, but I made it back just fine. For the next hour, I shoveled a clearing behind my car. It may not sound like much, but the snow was up to my knees. So, it was a lot for one person to handle. Luckily, a nice fellow walking through the alley offered to help. He cleared a good portion, but may have been trying too hard because he gave up in exhaustion. I thanked him and finished the job.

This is where the story should get better, but doesn’t.

I felt I had done enough to back my car out, so I inched my way into the alley. As I turned to face the street, I got stuck. Being on a diagonal, the situation got tricky. There was a brick wall to the back and a parked car to the front. At this point I would’ve left the job until morning, but I was blocking the alley now and had to move it.

I tried digging out the tires, laying cardboard and stone underneath them and rocking the vehicle. Nothing worked. I was only one person and the streets were becoming desolate. My options were limited and after exhausting them all, I broke down.

Finally, I called a tow truck.

All that personal strife just to empty my pockets and pay someone else to do it. All my hard work for nothing.

To make matters worse, I had to call the more expensive 24-hour towing service that, with some lame excuse, wouldn’t take credit cards.

Honestly, what kind of company are they running?!

But the employee freed my car and deserved compensation. So, we drove across the street to the gas station’s ATM.

When I said I cleared the roof of my car, I didn’t mean the job was thorough. You couldn’t see out the back window quite yet. And as I backed up in the parking lot, I hit the tow truck.

[Well, I was frustrated. And nobody drives carefully under the pressures of frustration! Okay, Jeff Gordon does. Well, only sometimes but-  Yes I know. No I know. Look. It worries you, my recklessness. I get that. But this was two years ago, okay? I’m a much more polished individual now. I’m sorry. Okay, I love you too. See you tomorrow.]

My bumper hit the tow truck’s fender just enough to cause a dent. Not a big one, but its location required a replacement. At least that’s what I was told by those shady, cash-only thieves. That auto report could’ve been digitally altered for all I know!

But alas, I was my own undoing.

I started with a pursuit to unearth my car and ended with two skyrocketing bills.

Perfect.

Sure, driving home was wonderful, but you know what? Had I not been such an idiot, I could have also taken the train.

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