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“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” ~Dr. Seuss

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Be prepared... winter driving....

Be Prepared. This is a good motto that the Boy Scouts use and it has served them, and many others, well over the years. This would be a good motto for the fellow (and many other dimwitted dwellers of snowy regions) that arrived at my doorstep after I’d just crawled into bed Monday evening.

It wasn’t that late, not much past 10:00 PM, but I was tired after a crappy sleep the night before. Winding down for the night, I was sitting on my bed setting my new clock alarm when, Bailey, my neighbour’s dog, went berserk. Honestly, at first I didn’t pay much attention, she is, well, she’s sweet and as I am the one that feeds her (another story) she has kind of adopted us, but she barks at anything and everything. Birds, leaves fluttering, a reflection of light (this is quite amusing actually, gotta video her one of these days), so quite frankly, her barking doesn’t raise too many alarms, generally. When she continued, was very loud and aggressive sounding and did not stop without a break, I started to think something was up. Then my spidey senses startled tingling (really, only, I’ve never been bitten by a radioactive spider, at least not that I’m aware of).

I realised something was definitely up. Usually, she only goes crazy if a coyote is trying to get on the property, or a stranger drives up. I did not hear a vehicle so I just assumed it must be a coyote, until… someone knocked on my door. Living in the middle of nowhere almost generally affords the comfort level that if anyone is in this area, it is because they have to be, not because they are out for a random killing spree, so I usually feel pretty secure in my wee home. (I mean really, this IS Canada). Still, I wasn’t sure if I should open the door or not that night, I heard no vehicle come into the yard, I was tired, ergo more sensitive than usual, and not feeling particularly “neighbourly” at strangers on my doorstep.

But being the good citizen and worried it was a stranded traveller, I opened my door a crack to see what manner of person dared come knocking on a home that was obviously shut down for the night (only light on when he knocked was my bedside light). It didn’t occur to me until just now, that he likely saw that the lights were being shut off one by one in a row as I had only just gone to bed. Anyway, I digress. I opened the door, and the only creature on my deck was Bailey… wth? I know I heard a knock, then just beyond the deck I saw this fellow looking lost and quite nervous of that big black dog barking her head off. Now, I wear pj’s to bed, nice warm flannel ones, but I wasn’t terribly interested in showing at the door like that so I threw a hoodie on over top at least, so I assume the delay had caused him to think that no one was going to answer (not to mention the big black dog barking at him).

Apparently, this fellow, for whatever reason, felt a need to pullover whilst driving in the dark on a country road, thought he saw an approach and pulled in, realising, far too late obviously, that he had in fact pulled straight into a ditch. In the summer, no big deal, winter, in a car, not a good thing. Not just any winter either, this year, we have already had unbelievably copious amounts of snow. My deck was three feet deep, the ditches, deep ones, filled until they looked nearly flat, and the snow drifts in our yards against buildings and tree lines were six feet high. And if that’s not enough of a challenge for a fellow, obviously from the city in his wee car, it was melting at an unbelievably fast rate and everything was incredibly slick.

I could see the flashing lights from his vehicle, just under a mile up the road, so obviously most likely true, and he was asking if someone was available to help him push it out. Now, I live alone and have small children. I do share the acreage with the property owner’s grandson living in his own trailer just behind mine, he’s a good, big farm boy, but was away in the oil fields for his winter job at the time. Needless to say, it was not even remotely possible for me to leave my home, and therefore, not much help to a motorist in need. Honestly folks, I took a good look at this fellow, and he wasn’t much help to himself either I’m sure. Dressed right off the pages of a magazine, he had on his fancy shiny leather shoes, nice cuffed trousers and his leather ¾ length jacket. (I walk my boys to the bus each morning down our rather long driveway, next morning I realised it was sheer ice, I have no idea how that man managed to walk it and stay upright in those shoes). This was a fellow, who’s motto is most decidedly NOT, Be Prepared! He says to me, “I have a shovel”. Great! But now you’re pretty gucci’s are filled with snow dear. (I didn’t say that out loud, I’m much to polite lol). So he has a shovel, but is driving in the dead of winter, with only office wear and pretty shoes, I hope they’re durable.

In the end, best I could offer him was what was left of a box of clean litter for some traction. I tried phoning down to the farm, but he was not home either. I drove by the next morning, and saw where he had been stuck (my 4x4 would have been fine ;) ), and obviously, somehow gotten free. I have no idea if it was with the assistance of the litter, a passing motorist, or if he had to call a tow truck, but he made it out and presumably home safely (or whatever his destination).

Moral of the story: If you live in a climate where snowy weather is a factor, Be Prepared! In the winter, carry the following supplies with you in your trunk or cargo space at all times:

  • Roadside Assistance membership
  • Winter boots (or something that keeps snow out, your feet warm & dry and has a decent grip)
  • Warm toque (hat), gloves & scarf
  • Shovel (he had that at least)
  • A small box of cat litter or sand (great for traction)
  • Vehicle safety kit
  • ice scraper
  • snow brush
  • sand, salt or kitty litter
  • booster cables
  • flashlight
  • blanket
  • reflective warning sign or road flares
  • extra clothing
  • emergency food supplies
  • matches
  • candle in a deep tin
  • fire extinguisher
  • paper towels or rags
  • First-aid kit
  • compass
  • road map

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