Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Annoyances, Part Two, in which we contemplate the great Suckholery that is Winter in the Northern Tier

Yesterday I had an appointment. Whenever I get an address that is RR something Box something I shudder; you can't look that stuff up on maps, you have to get directions from the customer. So I called him, carefully wrote down what he told me, and went on my way. His busy schedule dictated an appointment at 4pm. No problem, I can always have a life once I retire.

The day was supposed to be mildly unpleasant, so I cast a fisheye on the glazy ice-looking bits of road I was travelling on, which all turned out to be puddles and not Great Black Sheets of Instant Grisly Death, one of my deepest, darkest fears. A normally boring drive was perked up by an impromptu roadside domestic dispute; I came out of Sylvania, PA to see vehicle pulled over at a hasty angle and a woman who looked at first glance like she was examining her shoes. As I passed I realized she was standing astride a man, on his back in the dirty road-salted snow, her finger pointed defiantly in his face. I can only imagine what sort of exchange between them would have prompted this woman to jerk her Voyager into a snowbank, yank this man out, and stand over him like a mittened, plaid bundled Colossus of Rhodes. I kept driving.

I found the light in Ulysses (yes, THE light, as in, there is one, and if you drive to the next one, you are in a different town), made the correct turn, and hit my trip odometer, since I was told the road I needed was 3 miles from the stop sign. You do this around here, since more often than not there is no street sign, and the landmarks you get make you want to punch old people in frustration. As usual, no street sign, I turned on the dirt road, drove past a farm, aimed the van down the ruts, and dropped it into a lower gear. My customer indicated that I should go 'straight after the road bends left and then right'. More accurately, 'after you go through the two hairpin turns with the sheer ice-covered dropoff on the right hand side, keeping your van on the five feet of cleared road in the dead center praying no school buses come up the other way, go straight'.

My road to go straight on is a dirt road of farms. With farms comes farm machinery, which means deep, ice filled wheel ruts. At least, I figure, I'm not sliding off this road, as I clutch up all my sphinctery muscles in a completely worthless attempt to avoid losing the oil pan, the gas tank, and everything else I feel scraping the centerline hump. I have to jam on my brakes once to avoid wiping out no less than six barn cats who chose that moment to chase each other across the road. With the help of a UPS driver I find the house, and glory be, they have a nicely paved driveway.

Covered in three inches of solid ice. Solid befreaked uphill ice.

I swallow some panic-attack flavored saliva and drop the van into low gear. I gain the hill and sort of slide diagonally into a parking place. The gentleman greets me in a t-shirt, socks, and sweatpants. When I mention that a moving truck would probably not make the driveway he said, 'Oh, its all right. I've been here all day and its been melting steady,'

All day, you say? You mean, like, during all those respectable hours when the SUN WAS OUT and I could have come here and gone back and not had to give up an hour and a half of my only evening at home? Bless your sock feet, sir. No, really. And I'm sure your soon to be ex-wife won't mind at all that her entire bedroom set and all her appliances are dumped on your porch exposed to the elements. I won't relish telling on you at all. I promise.

This weather makes me want to curl up in bed with a seed catalog and a fifth of Johnnie Walker Red. Fortunately our annual Fire Department/Ambulance banquet is this weekend, and while I doubt there will be much in the way of seed catalogs.....


Anonymous said...

Personally, I didn't know you liked Johnnie Walker Red...myself, I'd prefer Jagermeister.

Tricia said...

I just love country directions! Turn left just after the big barn then go about 1/2 a mile and turn by the old teepee. Your job sounds like just so much fun! :)

Jonny's Mommy said...

In between being sick, I popped on here and laughed until...well, I puked again. Thanks for help cleaning me out!

Jocelyn said...

There's no shame in curling up with a bottle of booze.

Oh,and I'm pretty sure I've been on that road you describe. Only it was in South Dakota.

the frogster said...

Some of my family lives in northern New Hampshire and they often give me directions like "take a left where the old barn used to be" or "turn where you see the creek, unless it's frozen and you won't see it." Lovely. Glad you made it back in one piece.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

Around here its frequently "You know the old Carson road?" Of course, its now called Ridgeline Road, and it was the old Carson road when the Carson's owned the farm that is now a dilapidated barn, circa 1954. I'm still trying to figure out where 'The Junction' is, and how that is different from 'The Split', and my personal favorite, 'The Hogback', which I understand lies somewhere between Wellsboro and Middlebury Township, but I can't say I've seen a stretch of road that was particularly hogback-like going that way. Every fire department story seems to start out, "'member? We had that chimney fire over to Owlett's, and we're flying out the Hogback..."