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Home Is Where The Heart Is

I'm writing this having woken up again in my own bed in my own house.  As much as I love the hospitality and generosity of friends, there's nothing like your home turf.  I got home from work and sat in a hot bath with a great book on electrical engineering (what?) and slept like a log.

You have to keep in mind I get a bit nervous about being a houseguest.  I believe a good traveler leaves no footprints.  So making a mess is a great fear of mine.  Either that or being such an annoyance that my visit becomes one of those things people bitch about when I'm not around.

Work on Tuesday was interesting.  As the snow fell, I checked the parking lot.  Curiously, I saw lots of snow blowing around but no real accumulation.  But that was the early stages.  By the time I left work that night, the winds and snow were horrible.  Visibility was almost non-existent.  Just to reach my car, I used my driving trick.  When I drive, I actually build a model of the road in my mind.  If ANYTHING violates the object model (for example, an unpredictable driver), I take action until the model rebuilds or the violation passes.  I wound up building a model of the parking lot and using minimal visual cues as I tried to protect my eyes from the blowing snow and blistering winds, made it to the Angry Red Dragon.

Before I left, I had been urged by my supervisors to stay there, they weren't letting anyone go home.  However, my target location was a few miles away, so I kiss the rosary I'm wearing around my neck (imported from Jerusalem) and I go to leave.

The blowing helped in one aspect, there was almost no accumulation on the Dragon.  I started him up and he gave a questioning roar, as if to ask me, "Is this trip really necessary?"  It took a few tries to get out of the parking spot because of snow drifts.  I also had to leave the parking lot and navigate around a fallen and blowing metal drum because all other routes would have gotten me stuck.  The Dragon has a marvelous heater, but the wind was actually cooling the engine quickly, making the defroster marginal at best.  As I creep across the parking lot, I realize what I'm in for and I think about maybe just finding a quiet, unused office and hunkering down there.  But I think, it's just a few miles, and angels watch out for you.  Just be smart, listen to what the Dragon tells you, and you'll be fine.

(Side note:  I have been asked why I insist on keeping my compact car instead of going with something bigger and with four wheel drive.  The answer is simple:  I feel too isolated in such vehicles.  The Dragon reacts to winds, roads, ice patches, everything, even if the road is a little uneven.  It literally becomes an extension of my senses, telling me what is going on around me and keeping the surprises to a minimum.  Once again, the object model.)

I made a couple of illegal turns from the wrong lane, and in a couple of cases, used momentum to propel me down the street.  My car is a model used by rally racers.  Anytime I start either drifting across the center line or whatever, I relax my grip, and the Dragon tells me how it's moving through all this.  I work with the Dragon, not against it.  It knows what to do, I go along with it.  Only one other car behind me at one point.  It passes me, going 25 MPH.  I'm staying at 15 with my blinkers on.

It's during this point, just before he passes me, that I first witness snow lightning.  The sky behind me lights up.  I thought the guy was just trying to signal me to move over, so I don't register what it really was.  After he passes me, I'm all alone on the road when the sky lights again.  I realize that ain't no impatient driver.  I totally want to get where I'm going.

It takes me a half hour to get to my destination.  The main road into the subdivision hasn't been plowed, but the Dragon handles it masterfully.  But when I try going up the hill, the drifts are too high.  The house is just a short distance away at this point, so I move the Dragon to the side of the road (at one point, the spinning tires simply had me moving sidewise towards the curb instead of actually driving), grab my two bags, and hoof it.  As I run, the entire sky turns to daylight for a flash.  I run faster.

I get to the door, and my friend opens it.  Bringing me in, he and his wife have set up an air mattress on the living room floor and piled it with blankets.  I start feeling guilty, I didn't want them to go through a lot of trouble.  I tell them they didn't need to, I would have been just fine on the couch.  Nonsense, they say.

I start unpacking the main bag.  Because I wasn't sure what they set the temperature for and didn't want them becoming uncomfortable just because I was cold, I packed my electric blanket.  It's not long before everyone is ready for sleep.  I put on my sleep pants, climb under my blanket, turn it to "London Broil", and curl up, my MP3 player pumping classic R&B crooning through the headphones to my ears.

I wake the next morning, informed that no one is going anywhere.  My friend went to look at my car.  The Dragon has almost no snow on him.  But the drifts around him make him look like a giant kid just put him down there, in the middle of the snow.  Before I do anything else, I start folding all the blankets and sheets and taking down the bed, folding them and piling them off to the side out of the way.  His wife begins making buttermilk pancakes for breakfast.  I initially decline, figuring I'll leave eventually and just hit a McDonald's or something, but they talk me into it.  They were great.  I also do a little net surfing, my usual routine.

The snow has stopped and the wind is manageable.  My friend has a snow blower he can use to help dig me out.  However, he gets distracted by neighbors asking him to clear their driveways (he made $50), and I don't think he'll get it down the hill anyway.  So I grab a shovel and march to the Dragon.

By now, the main road into the subdivision has been cleared, so if I can get the Dragon free, I can leave.  I start digging, and notice that everyone is now coming out and starting to move the snow around.  I clear out a bunch of space and do a quick test with the Dragon.  He can get out just fine.  The plow comes by and asks me if I can move the car, because I'm keeping him from clearing that portion of the street.  I tell him no problem, just give me a couple of minutes.  I dash back, grab my stuff, everyone says goodbye, I continue to express my gratitude, and they shoo me out the door.

The roads are relatively clear, although the snowbanks make them very narrow.  I get into town and get to McDonald's.  There's a few people here, and a very harried manager.  He has only two people in the back, one of who he had to make take her legally mandated break.  They are way behind.  He smiles when he sees me, he knows I'm not going to hype over service or anything.  I tell him I'll come back later, he doesn't need me giving him a rough time.  He tells me I don't have to leave, but he's clearly relieved I'm not treating him like shit.  It seems the store didn't open, and he was called and told to open it now.  Given how almost every other business was closed, they wouldn't have lost that much money if they just kept shut and not given him an ulcer.

I get to work.  The place is so deserted, it's like a Kevin Federline concert (I know!  I don't know how I got so funny, either!).  A supervisor sees me and says I am the tenth person to show up that day.  So I get to work.  My boss is there, and he's leaving early.  Lots of people camped out there overnight.  He figured I didn't because I looked rested and I didn't smell like an athletic supporter.  ("I'm Peter G for Irish Spring.")  I get through the day, and find out, as a thank you, everyone that came in gets a free lunch.  I eat hearty and eventually finished my shift.

I got home and started the bathwater running as I checked the Internet.  I grabbed my book and lowered myself in.  The water was as hot as I could stand it.  I just let the book sit there on the side for a while, all thoughts of circuits and calculations gone from my head as I soaked like the water sign I am, floating as well as my height would let me and letting my mind go blank.

Eventually, my legendary impatience won out.  I sat up, dried my hands, and started reading as I relaxed.  I got out and just climbed into bed, having already replaced the electric blanket.  Set it for high again and went to sleep.

As bad situations go, this one worked out pretty good.

Comments

pinkmossrose
Feb. 3rd, 2011 10:08 pm (UTC)
Glad everything went well for you. ^_^

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