I just survived the winter to end all winters. I am proud to say that I just lived through bitter, freezing, teeth-chattering, through-the-reddened-fingers-and-down-to-the-bone temperatures that almost left me in a permanent, shivering state of despair. I reached the finish line and survived the Ice Age of the Century.
Also, I live in southern Louisiana. The temperature, while considered an extreme case for our state, never fell below 0 degrees. It didn’t even snow because, that’s just weird when that happens (I mean, what is that crap?). But I’m sure people in say, Chicago, are still chuckling and shaking their heads over our reaction to 20 degree weather. I’m sure they didn’t quite get it as we engaged in ice fights, and declared state of emergencies during our snowless snow days.
Oh go ahead and laugh, you people that live in a Winter Anti-Wonderland. But please understand we were not designed for this sort of thing.
Hey, don’t think we’re not survivors, however. Louisianans are a durable bunch because we’ve been through so much; just skim through our history books and you’ll get a good idea. We survived hurricanes and doomsday floods. A high crime rate. Yellow fever epidemics. Fires that wiped out New Orleans. Bobby Jindal. The first few decades of watching the Saints. The aftereffects of Monday night red beans and rice. Look, the point is, we’ve been through a lot and more, and we’re still standing. Yeah, we will survive…unless, of course, you ask us to survive an actual winter. We were equipped to handle heat, humidity, and ankle deep water seeping into our living rooms every April. But we cannot adapt to the cold hard winter. And the fact that we cry “It’s coooold!” when the temperature dips below 60 only scratches the surface for reasons why we should never travel to Washington, D.C. for Christmas.
What’s the main reason, you ask? Is it the subject of clothing, and the fact that we’re ill-equipped to brave winter storms due to the lack of ugly sweaters? That’s one reason; Last Friday, I couldn’t figure out how this whole dressing-up-warm-for-the-winter thing really works but I figured it out in time for work—I walked into the office with tights under my pants, a scarf, one jacket, one coat and gloves. My co-worker, hailing from New Jersey, came to work wearing a sweater. I think the only thing I achieved was overkill.
So, what’s the main reason? The part in which we close down the city of New Orleans for the arrival of that special snowflake? Cabin fever? The inevitable onset of seasonal affective disorder?
Nah, that last part is personal. I want to talk about our driving skills during winter weather conditions.
I may not have much experience in driving through the hell of sleet and ice, but that doesn’t stop me from suspecting that it’s an acquired skill. I already knew that driving through such weather conditions in Louisiana was going to be a journey. I knew this before I left work last Friday, and my suspicions were confirmed when I came home and saw it for myself on the news: over 200 traffic accidents were reported Friday, January 24. See? New Orleans drivers cannot drive over ice and sleet and whatever else freezes on a windshield. Driving through springtime floods, yes; ice, let alone snow, never going to happen.
On second thought: according to recent data collected from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Motorists Association and Mothers Against Drunk Driving and CarInsuranceComparison.com, the worst drivers in America live in…Louisiana. So, scratch the previous thought, we can’t even function behind the wheel on a sunny day.
With all of that information, you can understand how I felt that day, having to drive home from work. I took a good look at Sweet and Short Sally (my car) and…what in the hell happened to my windshield? So, is this ice? Can I get rid of this crap with my windshield wipers? No? Okay, time to get a few cups of water and splash it on the windows.
Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” played on the car radio as I worked on getting rid of the ice on my windshield and windows with water and my gloved hands—who requested that song during a time like today? Anyway, I began the treacherous journey…better known as driving home through the freezing rain and sleet. And when you’ve never done it before, the struggle is real. For 45 minutes, I inched along, driving 10 miles below the speed limit. I gripped the steering wheel and prepared for a potentially icy path ahead.
Later, other drivers passed me by and sped home; apparently Louisiana drivers know what they’re doing (we’re such great drivers and all, remember?) I simply shook my head at them. Hey, if they want to play bumper cars on ice, go ahead. I just don’t want to be a part of it.
By the time I got home, Bryan Adams “Summer of 69” was playing on the radio (you see what Magic 101.9 did there?) and I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. I didn’t encounter ice on the roads. I wasn’t a witness to an accident. I no longer had to worry about the cold, the sleet and the risk of ice-o-planing with bad drivers. And I’ll never worry about it again. I think I’ll hibernate for the rest of the winter. I’m not going out there again—one time was enough. See yall in March.
Go ahead. Shake your head and laugh. I’ve been doing the same.