Jan 14 2011

I Had to Abandon the Vehicle

Published by at 6:40 am under Happenings

Monday night I was driving up to Des Moines to attend a ministers’ meeting where one of the topics was going to be Biblical Peacemaking. I left directly after work and knew I wasn’t going to get in until around midnight.

The weather was snowing, just like the weather across much of the country this week. Although it was snowing, it was so cold that the snow was very fluffy and blew around so the roads we bad, but not terrible. I did feel some sliding a bit along the way.

Outside of Hannibal, I found myself behind a police officer. I has stopped to grab a burrito and was eating it. I thought that it would be safer to just stay behind him and wait until I had full control and attention before trying a passing manuver. But the officer kept slowing down and slowing down. I would’ve almost had to come to a complete stop not to be following him closely. Finally he was doing about 20 mph (which I thought there was a minimum speed on highways… whatever) and he put on his blinker and pulled to the shoulder so I had to pass him. When he pulled back on, I figured I was in trouble for following him, but I just saw him fade away in the distance.

Later, up on I-80 in Iowa I was driving behind a semi. I saw another semi off in the ditch on the right. There was an off ramp to a rest stop there. The semi in front of me wanted to get off but didn’t want to sideswipe the other truck in the ditch so it weaved out into the fast lane to then make the exit. As it did so it fishtailed a bit and I moved into the passing lane hoping it would get by. I started tapping the breaks at that point. Then I realized he wasn’t getting out of the way very fast and was basically blocking both lanes. I wasn’t going to have enough distance left to stop. So I tried to move into the median shoulder and hope to squeeze by. But the shoulder was slippery and I started to fishtail too. So I had to choose between swinging right and smacking into the back of that semi or swinging left and possibly loosing down into the median valley. I chose the median.

I ditched out into a big drift of snow. After I got my bearings I tried to drive back up onto the highway, but couldn’t get a grip. So I drove down the median a ways and tried again (and again and again). After going about 1/4 of a mile that way I finally gave up and called the police. I said if they could just send a couple guys to give me a shove, I thought I could get going again. But instead the dispatcher just said that they’d send “the deputy.”

Two patrol cars arrived from different directions and they told me to just turn off my hazards, lock it up and get in their car. They had no intention of pushing my car in the middle of the night on the highway.

I found out in the ride to the hotel that there was a towing ban due to the bad conditions. I had never heard of such a thing. I probably wasn’t paying attention because I need a tow so very rarely. (The last time was our stay in Bethany). So now I can add Grinnell to my list of little memorable towns.

The pastor from Newton came and picked me up and brought me to the meeting in the morning. When it was time to go, he brought me back to the towing company and I picked up my car and drove back home.

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