Thursday, January 1, 2015

Forget foxholes -- there are no atheists on icy highways

Tonight I realized what people see when they say Lubbock is beautiful. It's because the lights of Lubbock mean you don't have to do the long, lonely drive that is going anywhere in West Texas, made even more horrendous by ice, snow, slush and Texas drivers.

John Oliver recently did a "Last Week Tonight" webisode on how awful New Years Eve is and how to get out of going to parties so you can go to bed at 10 p.m. I see his NYE party awfulness and raise him even leaving the house in or around New Years Eve. Next year, from Dec. 28 to Jan. 3, I am not leaving my domicile.

Yes, kids, the one week that Texas decided to try that thing called winter is the week I was driving through the middle of the state. See that map below? Every single one of those cute little snowflakes indicates winter weather. And that's from when I got home. When I left San Antonio, the snowflakes extended all the way to San Antonio.

Also, see the time stamp on that screen shot? 7:53 p.m. I left San Antonio at 10 a.m. In the middle of a weekday and with a large bladder, that's a shade more than a 5.5-hour drive. I spent almost 10 hours on the road, divided fairly equally between fifth gear, inching over the mileslong sheet of ice that a couple of small Texas highways had become in the last 72 hours, and reading the biography of Andrew Jackson while my feet slowly froze and tow trucks and sand trucks cleaned up after a three-semi wreck. (I stopped counting how many semis I saw in wrecks or parked/slid off the side of the road. I think we should go back to transporting everything by train. Or speed up production on that hovercraft "Back to the Future" promised 2015 us.)

I listened to the same CD six times. I wore a beanie like a talisman against the cold and my intense dislike of driving in winter weather. I saw all my evening plans, like running and going grocery shopping and taking down the Christmas decorations and binge-watching "Friends" on Netflix, like a good American, go down the drain much faster than I made it from Blackwell to Sweetwater, a distance of about 30 miles that took a very painful hour and a half, helped not at all by the truck that thought tailgating me is an appropriate response to completely iced over roadways. 

By the way, Texas, can I offer a bit of advice for driving when the road isn't perfectly dry and ready for you to blow past the 75 mph speed limit signs? I'm not even going to say slow down. I am going to say that it is neither necessary nor safe to cut somebody off when passing on the freeway. Drive forward a couple more car lengths. This will save us both a headache if you have to brake suddenly and I don't have time to stop, and it will save me the repentance after cursing at you.

Fortunately, the drive wasn't a total waste. I did get a lot of reading done -- did you know Andrew Jackson was a power-mad d-bag? He's definitely the worst president in the first seven. -- and I listened to this group singing about aheartbeat feeling like a space camel, which I thought was both weird and a symptom of something potentially dangerous.

Anyway, I go back to work tomorrow, so the new year is over and I get to move onto 2015.

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