On the Second Day of Whitsmas

My true love gave to me: panic attacks on I-80. (Holy shit, that rhymes!)

 

I enjoyed my brief stay in Cleveland. I always do. Cleveland, to me, is a home away from home away from home. I feel so comfortable in Shaker Heights that I almost didn’t want to leave. But then I remembered that it’s Cleveland, and besides the people that I love there, there isn’t really anything to do. So I continued my journey.

 

Cue the ferocious snow storm. Good thing I got those tires, because, boy, I needed them. My anxiety was mostly under control, but then the snow got worse. And the visibility got worse. And the roads weren’t plowed. And my wiper fluid was frozen. And Semi-trucks were overturned on the side of the road in frequent intervals.

 

Panic Attack Number One (really, a series of small panic attacks that lasted for about four hours):

 

Holy shit, we are actually going to die out here.
No, anxiety. We are going to make it safely home.
Only the right lane is driveable, and the person in front of you is driving at a cool 30 mph. It’s going to take you forever to get home, and when you do, everyone will have forgotten about you.
No, no. I just need to wait until a semi or two pass me, and follow in their tracks so I can pass the slow cars in front of me.
Here comes one. We are going to die. We are going to die.
No, we’re no–HOLY SHIT THEY ARE SLOSHING SNOW ALL OVER THE WINDSHIELD I LITERALLY CANNOT SEE ANYTHING WE ARE GOING TO DIE. BRAKE. BRAKE. BUT NOT TOO HARD IN CASE THERE IS SOMEONE BEHIND YOU.
No one is going to know we’re dead. You can’t text them to tell them you’re crashing!
I WILL NOT CRASH.

 

That happened four times, where a semi-truck passed me so casually and dumped so much water on me that it was like being on a nickelodeon show, only moving at 50 mph surrounded by, literally, tons of moving vehicles that will annihilate you in a second. I was blind for about ten seconds each time, and would keep my wipers frantically moving to try and remove the ocean of slush that the semis dumped on me. It was terrifying.

 

And so was following in their tracks to pass the cars that were moving too slowly in the only paved part of the road. 30mph is understandable if visibility were really low and it was snowing super hard and the roads hadn’t been plowed. Visibility was probably about three hundred yards. It was snowing lightly, but there was a LOT of snow on the ground where the road hadn’t been plowed. So they should’ve gone at least 50 to keep the semis from dousing the rest of us. But they didn’t.

 

Passing them, my back tires wiggled back and forth, much like I do when I know I’m going to receive a treat or I have to go pee.
You’re going to spin out, you’re going to spin out and die. You’re going to spin out and freeze to death.
And I would try to keep my car on the road, and then try to get back over the slush onto the paved lane, which seemed to always take a herculean effort from my Hybrid Ford Escape.

 

2005-2007 Ford Escape photographed in Alexandr...

Pictured: More like a Ford “Escape,” if you know what I mean. I mean it was more like a death trap than an escape.

But somehow, I made it through the snow storm. Probably because I’m a much better driver than I give myself credit for, because I’m so overly cautious that I will not risk myself other than trying to pass people who were driving way too slowly for no reason.

Then I filled up my gas tank with two hours left to drive. The snow had finally stopped, and then I pulled back on the highway, met the speed limit of 70 mph, when all of a sudden:
HOLY SHIT IS THAT A DEER?! WE ARE GOING TO DIE BECAUSE OF A DEER. OH MY GOD WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO.
We aren’t going to die. I mean, we’re probably going to die. I should brake, right? (I braked, for a second)
IF YOU WANT TO SURVIVE THIS WHITNEY, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO SPEED UP. IT WILL CAUSE LESS DAMAGE TO THE CAR AND THE DEER WILL DIE FASTER.
Oh God. I don’t want to kill a deer. I am sad every time I see a dead deer on the road! I don’t want to kill Bambi’s mom!
SPEED UP.
And so I sped up. And I didn’t hit the deer.

She was about twenty feet in front of my hurling death trap, and she got out of my way. The car in the lane next to me braked just enough (still going about 65 mph, mind you) that she got across. No one was harmed. No car crashed. But I sweat through my shirts, and my hands shook the rest of the drive.

And we aren’t even up to where I threw my back out. Stay tuned.

White-tailed deer in Toronto, Canada

And so, the Johnny Knoxville of deer lived another day. Tomorrow, she would get a picture of herself tattooed on her own ass.

15 Comments

I have done that drive.. except the other end of I80.. leaving Montana back to Colorado. I pulled over to refuel and realized I was standing in a empty truck stop at 3am in the middle of nowhereville,WY and probably about the die. That snow covered slushy machine of a road was preferable, even though I peed my pants a little bit every time a trucker overtook me.

Oh my gosh I laughed all the way through this (please do apologize to your anxiety on my behalf) but ONLY because I seriously just lived it a couple weekends ago! So much life flashing before the eyes…. the part about the deer had me all keyed up– I’m so glad it didn’t die. But is that really true? You’re supposed to speed up?!

I had a panic attack on the freeway in the rain and almost stopped in the middle lane, my first experience. I wish you the best of luck

It sounds like a bit of a rough adventure. We used to drive from Buffalo, NY to Lawrence, Michigan for the holidays. Those semis are scary!!! Take care. And hope your back is feeling better.

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