You know how they say when you’re in danger, everything becomes really clear? Well, I can attest to that now. And that “it all happened so fast” statement is also true. This morning, while driving to work in all the leftover slush and snow, on badly-plowed roads, I did something I’d never done before, and honestly, it all happened so fast I’m not 100% sure how it happened. The entire incident, start to finish, took about 30 seconds.
Anyway – there I was…driving to work, on a road I travel every day. On a good day, the speed limit on that road is 40 (maybe 45, I can’t remember right now) mph. I was going maybe 30 mph, tops. Like I said, the roads were pretty sloppy and I’m pretty careful. I think I hit a pothole (that, of course, I couldn't see because it was covered with the slushy mess) and suddenly the back end of my car is slowly spinning around like it’s trying to do-si-do with the front end of my car.
I took my foot off the accelerator, left the brake pedal alone and I remember clearly thinking, “Steer into the skid, steer into the skid” – trying to recall my driver’s education training. And then it was over. I was facing the wrong direction completely stopped in the median.
In my next moment of clarity I thought, “Threat assessment! Where are you?” I looked up and took note that this normally busy road was completely and totally empty. There was not another driver to be seen and I was on one of the straight-away stretches! What luck! If this had happened on any regular morning (which I doubt it would have) the danger at that point would have been getting tagged by another car.
I thought, “If I’m not actually stuck here (which was a distinct possibility), I should be able to reverse and get myself out of here.” And that’s exactly what I did. I popped it into reverse, tapped on the gas and my car responded right away. I turned around the right way and continued on to work; myself and my car no worse for the wear. I was shaken up, yes – but totally unharmed. And yes, I still had a cup of coffee when I got to work.
This little incident isn’t going to deter me from driving to work in similar conditions, though admittedly, it might have if this had happened ten years ago. I know now, in a situation like that, I can keep my cool and not flip out.