Earlier this winter it was snowing and I got to leave work at 4:00. On my way home I headed for a familiar road - a street that winds down a hill. I knew it wasn't ideal but I told myself I would be careful and drive very slowly. I started down the hill without realizing it was sheer ice.
I started to slide and with no control whatsoever, spun 180 degrees and landed in a snowbank facing up the hill. My little Neon was stuck. Frustrated, I got out of the car and saw a girl walking toward me. Turns out her car was stuck a little further down and wouldn't even start. The two of us watched as, moments later, a third car became lodged in a snowbank. The lady in the car rolled down her window and jokingly asked if we should order pizza since we weren't going anywhere for a while. It was troubling because I couldn't think what to do or who to call to help me. It's not like anyone could get there anyway without facing the same fate. But yet I was calmly accepting of the situation, probably because it was one of those weird moments where you are brought together with strangers who are suddenly like old friends.
The three of us watched in horror as cars lost control coming down the hill. The tires weren't even spinning, which indicated that the drivers were not driving, just sliding. One car came within about three inches of hitting mine. Surveying the cars strewn about the street, I knew it was only a matter of time before one of ours got hit. I've only had this car a couple of months and I sure as heck didn't want anything to happen to it. I took up a post watching for other cars appearing at the top of the hill. Whenever I saw one I frantically waved my arms and yelled "go back, we're stuck here!!" At one point a car stopped at the top of the hill and I heard a guy's voice yell, "I can't go back - I'm stuck too!" Seizing the opportunity to have a guy help us push our cars out, I yelled back "Can you help us?"
The guy made his way down the hill and with the help of a resident who happened to be out shoveling nearby, he pushed the third lady's car out and then went for mine. The street was so slippery that we were falling just walking across it - it was literally ice. I offered a ride to the girl who couldn't get her car started. After all, I would want someone to help me and besides, us girls have to stick together. She said she just wanted to get a bag out of her car and headed for it as the guys were pushing me free. After sliding gently down to the end of the street and making sure I was on solid ground, I parked to wait for the girl to get to my car.
All of a sudden out of nowhere, a car was behind me beeping the horn. There was no room to pull over so I had to drive out onto the main street and then go a little ways down into a parking lot that was mostly clear. Then I got out and made my way back through the snow. I was stepping in drifts up to my knees but I was afraid to walk on the street. It was slow going and my ears felt like they were potentially going to fall off but I couldn't leave that girl stranded. By the time I got back she was gone. The only person still around was the shoveler. He told me the girl got a ride with the other guy. I was a little bit glad because that meant I could go right home but I also felt bad because she must not have thought I was coming back.
I climbed back through the deep snow. My throat was aching in the way it only can when you are exerting yourself in extreme cold. I think I was never so happy to get into the car and crank the heat up. I got home in one piece, about the time I get home when I leave work at my normal time, and thought grumblingly about how much I hate winter. And then I thought about strangers helping each other and I realized that not one of us had even exchanged names.