Saturday, January 1, 2011

Tales from the Lost Months: Jury Duty Ice Road Trucking/Subaruing Blues (PART 1)

Okay. Day one of the new year, so let’s start the blogging off proper with a Tales from the Lost Months episode featuring the story of my most recent unfortunate adventure: jury duty.

I'm happy to report that my experience with the jury duty process of jury duty has been extremely tame. In fact, in the 25 days I've officially been a part of the local jury pool I've not set foot in the courthouse once. This is because while I have no problems with actually serving on a jury, I managed to accidentally find out a surefire way to stay off of one, which is to drive one’s car into a very large rock on the way to serve.

Lemme back up.

I was summoned for jury duty a couple months back, with my jury term to begin December 6. I know jury duty is traditionally unpopular, but serving doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’ve never served before and think it would be an interesting experience not to mention my civic and legal duty. I emphasize legal duty because the letter of summons I received did too, and made it pretty clear that my ass was to be in that courtroom on December the 6th or the sheriff was coming after me. In fact, the letter of summons strongly implied that should I even contemplate asking to be excused, no excuse under the sun would be acceptable up to and possibly including death itself (up to the judge’s discretion), unless I was over the age of 70 years or had a permanent disability or impairment, at which point serving would merely be optional. I didn’t see the need for such threatening language, but again I was more than willing to serve.

The weekend of December 4 and 5 was an icy one here in Borderland. We had snow on the ground, though not a tremendous amount. On the morning of Dec 6, however, I awoke to a nice thin blanket of the stuff, amounting to an inch or two on the roads and a bit deeper in the grass. This concerned me. Since moving to the mountain state in 2001, I’ve seen and driven in a lot of snow and am pretty comfortable with it. However, it takes me a couple of days to really get my snow legs back under me each year, driving wise. And I prefer to regain them on nice, level, snow and/or ice-covered pavement and not the hilly, steep, blind-curve-laden, rarely plowed roads of our neighborhood. However, after our ice-adventure-filled winter last year, I'd purchased a Subaru, which was, I had been assured, the vehicle of choice when traversing icy roads. On paper, I knew I should be fine to drive them, rusty snow skills or not.

The wife had a day off on this particular Monday, so she had some Christmas shopping planned and was eager to get an early start on it. She offered to give me a lift to the courthouse on her way to the mall, in case I didn't want to drive in the snow. My inner-wuss really wanted to accept the offer, but, being a big strong man, I told her it wouldn't be necessary.

Before I left, I called the court house to make sure they were still having court, secretly hoping they wouldn't. They were, though. Guess I had to go.

At 8:30 I went out to the car, giving myself plenty of time to make it to the courthouse no matter how slow I had to go. As I backed out of the garage, I noticed that one of my next door neighbors, Mrs. Hazard, was walking on the road below our drive in the process of walking out. Walking Out is the term we use around here for people who are unable to even get into the neighborhood because of the initial big icy hill found there, or who are rightfully afraid to risk the attempt of driving in and opt instead to park along the road immediately outside our neighborhood. They then hoof it in to their house (sometimes a considerable distance, depending how deep in they live) and then walk back out when they wish to leave. I’m embarrassed to say that it did not even occur to me to drive down and offer Mrs. Hazard a ride out. I was far too nervous about my own journey and my instinct was to give her a good couple of minutes to walk down the steep blind curve just below our section of the neighborhood. I didn’t want to risk sliding into her accidentally should my car start to slip on my way down the road.

After waiting, slowly drove down our long driveway, which is probably the steepest of the inclines we have to cover during any given trip. Sure enough, 2/3 of the way down, the tires started to slip and not even the Subaru’s all wheel drive could save me from sliding all the way to the bottom. I pumped the brakes the whole way down to no avail, failed to make the turn onto the road at the bottom and slid across and off the other side before stopping. Fortunately, it’s fairly level there, so I was able to drive back onto the road with no problem. But my nerves were already shot. Why the HELL hadn’t I taken the wife’s offer?!!

I then crept along to the top of the blind curve. I admit I was worried. I'd had very little ice driving practice in the Subaru before, since by the time I bought it last year the snow season was mostly over. It is only my terror, though, that I can use as an excuse for failing to do two obvious and important things. A) I should have driven with my right two tires off the edge of the road where there was some gravel in the shoulder. And B) I should have first pulled over to the side and got out to scout the hill itself to make sure someone had shoveled out some of the extra gravel the neighborhood purchases and keep in convenient piles next to the steep sections of the road. See, we're not a county road so we have no regular plow service. So we do what we can with the gravel and you’d be amazed at how much traction it can provide. What I quickly learned to my horror, though, was that no one had graveled the road that morning. And the way I learned this was by ever-so-slowly crept forward until I was pointed down the center of the one-lane road, whereupon, half-way down, all four tires lost any hope of traction and I began to slide very quickly in an unfortunate direction.


1 comment:

crsunlimited said...

This is one of those things where you're reading along and you think "Oh my god, I hope Juice is going to be ok." Then you realize obviously he was or he wouldn't have been able to blog about it otherwise.

I was overly concerned there for a minute.