I was planning to go grocery shopping the other day when it started to snow; I watched the neighbor's rooftop turn white, and I decided to stay home. No way was I going out on a five-mile drive on a slippery freeway to my favorite store here in the Twin Cities metro area. In any case, I had enough coffee on hand to last a couple of days and a good supply of peanut butter and jelly and a loaf of English muffin bread.
The snow melted shortly after it fell on the still green grass, and I could have probably gone shopping without incident. However, those snow flurries triggered a memory from a couple of decades ago. Back then, my family and I lived in West Concord, a small town near Rochester, Minnesota. My two children were attending high school, and I was enjoying a long-deferred dream of going to college. A student at Rochester Community College, I planned to enroll in the nearest four-year college after earning my Associate of Arts degree at RCC. Keep in mind it was 30 miles one way to Rochester.
I was a dedicated college student and a few snow flakes that morning would not prevent me from going to my class. Not an experienced winter driver, I hit an icy spot on Highway 14 and the next thing I knew, our heavy Ford Torino careened down the incline into the median. Why me?! I shouted as the car rolled over. There were no seatbelts in those days, so I wound up lying on the inside of the car's roof. The engine was still running, and I reached out and turned off the keys. I then opened the driver's side door and crawled out. A truck driver had already stopped on the freeway above me and was setting out flares. I walked up the hill in time to greet the police who had been called to the scene. These were kind and thoughtful people. They contacted a nearby garage, and my car was soon towed back onto the freeway. The only damage the mechanic noted to the old Ford was that it's roof was caved in.
Just a little unnerved, I drove to Rochester Community College that day in time for my psychology class. I met with the professor before class and shared with her what I had been through in order to get there. She said, “You know, you're still pretty far out, don't you?” I don't think I replied.
When I drove home that day, word had already gotten back to West Concord. From then on, the guys at the local Mobile station called me Barney Oldfield, whose name, according to Wikipedia, was synonymous with speed during the first two decades of the 20th Century.
These days I'm pretty good at adjusting my speed to the road conditions, but as I noted earlier, if I don't have to – nothing wrong with peanut butter and jelly – I stay home when it's snowing.