I SURVIVED A BLIZZARD IN THE MID-WEST

On a gloomy evening in 2018, I was driving back home from my Thanksgiving break at a warmer location. Things took an unexpected turn when the normal dark winter weather cascaded rapidly into a blizzard. The wind picked up speed and snow started piling up on the road. My car tires were losing traction and I could barely see beyond 20 feet through the windshield. The only glimmer of the black asphalt that I could manage to see was from the tracks made by the car in front of me.

I was already crawling on the highway at 15 mph when a few miles later, that car decided to take an exit. No one was making tracks for me now to see the road through the snow and I was struggling to gauge the road. I knew this was more serious and decided to take the next exit I could find.

The exit was on a slight uphill and the roads were packed with snow. As I started climbing the slope, I suddenly felt my car sliding away from the road. The strong winds were not helping my “world-class” snow driving abilities. I braked and tried to maneuver the car back to the center of what I thought was the road, but the car kept sliding away as my tires lost traction completely.

When 5 seconds later my car came to a standstill, I knew I wasn’t facing the road and something was wrong. I put my car in reverse trying to get oriented back on the road and I hit the gas pedal. CLEARLY A ROOKIE MISTAKE, the wheels spun in their place sinking me deeper in the snow. Now, my car was 2 inches into the snow leaving me stranded on the roadside unable to move in any direction. I switched on the parking lights as if sending a hopeful beacon of rescue out into the snowy whiteness.

The weather app on my phone indicated that I had 2 more hours of snow coming my way. I wasn’t sure how long before my car guzzled the last quarter tank of fuel to keep the heaters running. So I had to buckle up as the snow kept piling on my car. Not being able to see a single living soul through the snow added to the fear, my life started flashing before my eyes, I thought to myself. Is this it?

Driving at 10 mph barely able to keep the car in the tracks made by the car in front

The pulses in my brain started firing up and I realized that I was holding a man made wonder right in my hand. I could call someone to get me out of this. Also, I could see on the map, a town was still about a mile or so away from my location. But in no way could I walk a mile, dressed in my tennis shoes, jeans and a t-shirt in the cold blizzard.

I decided to call insurance to send help. Calling insurance is funny, they are always able to reach you when they want to sell. But when you need them, you have to wait for their next available representative. I was on this phone call for 20 minutes waiting to connect, listening to their recorded loop go

Your call is important to us please wait for the next available representative.

Great!! no one is here, no use of the technology. Could my car be buried in snow in two hours? I was looking on my phone checking the internet for other options to get out of this mess when someone knocked on my window. I look at this middle aged hefty guy about 6 feet tall, the average mid westerner coolly wearing a pair of shorts, and a cap in the freezing cold. I roll down my window partly scared, but what could possibly go wrong now.

Stranger: Hey man!! Are you stuck? You have your blinkers on.

Me: YES. 

Stranger: Do you need help to get out? 

(A tear almost rolled down my eye)

I nod. YES.

He instructs me to put my car in neutral gear as he stomped in the ankle deep snow to the front of my car. Grabbing the hood with his bare hands, he bends down and nods at me through the windshield. He pushed the car with all his might, his face turning red, like that of a weightlifter doing his heavy lifting. The car budges slightly but not enough.

So he walks to his truck and talks to someone sitting inside. Out steps his fellow passenger, she was similarly wearing a jacket, cap and a pair of jeans. They both reach the front of my car and he instructs me to hit the gas pedal in reverse when they start pushing. He signals me to ease into it, so we have to rock the car to get it out. We get into this dance, alternating between me hitting the gas pedal for a second and them pushing. The car rocked forward-backward in short spurts increasing the swing at every push. In about 30 seconds, I was back on the road and out of the snow.

I get out of the car not bothered by the cold, so overwhelmed, and shake their hands thanking them from the bottom of my heart. They just smile and calmly say “Hey man no worries”. They ask me where I was headed and joked that with my paltry little car to stay out of these roads in the weather. I had spotted a Walmart on the map nearby and tell them that I would wait out the storm there. They nod, hop back into their truck, making tracks in the snow for me to follow into the Walmart parking lot. I spent the next 3 hours browsing the grocery store shelves, waiting for the storm to calm down and the roads to clean up.

Now, these guys had no business saving me. But they were so nice, they give me their number and asked me to call them in case I need help while waiting there. My heart was full and no amount of thanking them was going to convey how grateful I was for saving my life.

There is no way to guess how this would have ended, if not for those two strangers pushing my paltry car out of the snow. But I got lucky to be saved by random strangers’ kindness in rural Iowa in the middle of a blizzard. The world works in mysterious ways.

A blizzard will hit you in a matter of minutes and things can get rough pretty, if you care for your life, just take shelter.

Shubham K.

P.S: I later recounted this jarring experience to my office colleagues, most of them have seen snow for their entire lives. They recommended calling emergency services 911 to come to rescue me instead of the insurance company and having a winter emergency kit in the car. You live and you learn.

1 comment

  1. That’s quite a tale! It’s rather ironic that some of the most vivid, heartfelt memories we have are of adversities. Life’s a strange teacher 🙂
    P.S. Just like you dialed up insurance while stuck in a blizzard, my friends had once dialed 911 stuck on a trek while overlooking a 1000 ft. drop in India! But as you said, you live and you learn! 😉

    Like

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