It’s 6 p.m. Monday. I’m at the office. I’m stuck here intentionally with a bottle of green tea, some potato chips, a Slim Jim and lots of music.
The night before I was praying for guidance. The Courier had to get out. I knew the weather was going to be bad. My wife, Linda, sat there watching me brood. I could probably put the paper together on Tuesday and part on Wednesday, and get it sent to the printer.
But I felt like I had to drive from Fulton to Tupelo on Monday, because I was almost certain I couldn’t make it Tuesday. I get up at 5:30 a.m. most days, but decided to wait until 7 a.m. I got dressed, told Linda I was going to make a test drive to Hardee’s and see how it was. She told me I didn’t have to go, but then went silent knowing I would go.
We live on a hill. I park my Honda CRV at the bottom. I went out the front door, veered to the right towards our neighbor’s house where I saw a few non-white spots and slowly started down. Eventually I had to step on the bottom of our driveway, and then the road. I felt myself slipping but was able to grab the car door handle and climb inside.
The windshield wipers were frozen, so I sat patiently in the vehicle waiting until they broke loose and I could see out. We live on a deadend road and I knew I’d be the only one out.
I backed into the driveway, hit the gas just a little and moved forward up the road. I pushed gently on the brakes twice to get a feel for which way it was going to pull. Hardee’s was closed as were the rest of the fast food joints, so I settled for a couple biscuits and coffee at the big Shell station down the road.
Back at home, I finished the last swig of pecan roast and announced I was going to go. It was sleeting again and I felt I had to get moving. Linda was not happy, but knew, after nearly 35 years together, I would go.
I loaded some vitamins, a quilt, a change of clothes and some toiletries. It wasn’t long and I was feeling I should have listened to my wife.
I said another prayer, took the exit leaving Fulton and slip-slided across that first long bridge. No one was on the road. At the end of the bridge was a semi-truck just sitting in the right hand lane, trying to get traction.
This was not good I thought and then timidly passed him on the left side. The loneliness began to close in around me. There was no one out. I22 was one solid white sheet of something, no tire tracks, no yellow lines — nothing.
I started seeing more semi’s on the side of the highway. About Dorsey a black Escalade showed up in front of me, he was following a semi — we were all going 20-mph. I was glad for the company. Just before Mantachie the Escalade pulled off, under a bridge to rest and the semi and I were left in the white.
As we slowly climbed a hill between Mooreville and Auburn I saw blue lights on the other side of the interstate. An eighteen wheeler had jack-knifed and was sideways across the pavement. Highway Patrol were stationed on both sides keeping traffic from heading to Fulton while they waited on a wrecker.
It was sleeting harder and suddenly I had another problem. My windshield wipers couldn’t work fast enough and were freezing to the glass. I turned the heater all the way up, which made the inside of the vehicle feel like a sauna. Visibility was gone. I stayed about 30 feet back from the semi so I could see his taillights.
At the Auburn exit I could feel the tires struggling to grip the road. Come on. One more exit.
Finally I spun off at Veterans, which was worse. I just prayed I was on the road. The shoulder and pavement looked the same white. When I turned on to Main Street, I noticed that big Shell station closed and knew this wasn’t the brightest idea I’d ever had.
I prayed again, bumped over chunks of frozen ice, and in and out of ruts until I pulled to the side of the Courier. I grew up in Michigan. I’ve driven in some really bad weather and over some difficult terrain, but this was the worst.
I called Linda, said another prayer and I hope you get your paper this week.
Please pray for all emergency personnel, who are already burnt out from dealing with Covid, as they struggle to keep us safe during this storm.