We had some snow overnight and I had to be in Rockford first thing in the morning. I left a little earlier than usual. Normally it takes about thirty minutes to get there; I gave myself forty-five. Belvidere – at the best of times – doesn’t do a very good job plowing the streets after a snowfall. I joke (at least I think it’s a joke) that their snow removal plan is called “spring”. So, after gunning the car and taking a flying leap through the snow to my street, I slipped and slid my way towards the Route 20 bypass.
I had to stop a couple of times to let ambulances and a fire truck pass me. That should have given me a clue. I drove over a small hill and saw a bunch of flashing lights up ahead: big car accident. I could see at least four cars in a pile in the middle of the road plus a few others along the shoulders. I stepped on my brakes and figured out real quick how the others had lost control: black ice. I let up and tried to straighten out the car the best I could. After the official vehicles had passed, I had been driving under the speed limit. Only luck prevented me from hitting the car in front of me.
So, I was sitting still on a two lane country road between Rockford and Belvidere in the middle of a group of cars. I blew through my “safety margin” time, so I called my co-worker and let her know I’d be late. A policeman tapped on my passenger window and motioned me to turn around. The road was closed until further notice. I gingerly did a three point turn. The Volvo behind me turned less gingerly and ended up doing a double 360 off the side of the road. Luckily, the police were nearby.
I drove back into town at literally five miles an hour. I could feel the car get light going faster than that. My backup plan was to take the tollway. However, as I came to the entrance ramp on the bridge by Wal Mart, I could see a solid still line of cars stretching from east to west, as far as I could see. I was definitely late by this time. I called my co-worker again to give her an update. I thought I would try one last road before I gave up.
I was a little surprised Route 20 was clear. It was a bit crowded from people who were getting off the tollway while they could, but at least it was moving. I finally made it to Rockford and pulled into the parking lot around 8:45. It had taken me 90 minutes to get to my class, but at least I had made it. The rest of the class was going through the first topic: Follow Up and Follow Through. I relaxed; I hadn’t missed anything.