You Can’t Get There from Here


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.

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