It all started harmlessly enough with a planned trip to Vienna last Sunday night. A snowstorm was predicted though I knew it to be just another make believe weather event designed to give me a touch of anxiety. As we all have come to know first hand, it did exactly that and more. Getting to the airport was tricky in a car driven by a man who seemed to be experiencing snow and ice for the first time. He played classical music the whole way, which soothed me and drowned out the audible sound of his gnashing teeth. We arrived at JFK without incident and I checked in. From that moment on the situation took a turn for the worse and we went down hill in what was a complete free fall. Hours were passed on a plane sitting on a runway jammed with many other planes, snowplows and mounting snowdrifts. Long story short, our freshly de-iced plane that was second in line for take-off crawled dejectedly back to the gate due to the airport’s closing. So much for plans.
Not wanting to stay the night on the floor of the terminal sharing a rug with thousands of stranded passengers, I decided to find my way home to my cozy bed. With no taxis, buses or trains working it was an ambitious plan to say the least. A Good Samaritan with a beat up Cherokee with a nice big crack across the windshield, one driver’s side windshield wiper, no rearview mirror and no shovel offered 4 others and me a ride back to civilization. The road out of the airport was impassable with a foot of snow covering it and stuck or abandoned cars tossed like stones on a beach blocking our path. Saba, the driver, was undeterred and slalomed in and out of the obstacles like an Olympic skier. Once we found our selves at the entrance to the Van Wyck we attempted to skirt another marooned truck and ran aground. Thinking that we all would get out and dig or push the car to freedom, I jumped out into a maelstrom of stinging snow, ice and wind. Without a shovel and only the 2 sun visors, Saba and I fell to the ground and started digging as fast as we could. Not until I stood to catch my breath ten minutes later did I see that he and I were the only ones digging. In fact, we were the only ones outside of the car. The other 4 passengers were sitting inside complaining that they wanted to be driven back the 2 miles to the terminal. My clothes were soaked and frozen stiff against my body that was numb from my neck to my feet. My traveling outfit was a cashmere jacket, jeans and suede Oxfords; not gear for summiting the south face of Mount JFK. At that moment it was crystal clear that if I didn’t help Saba with all the strength and determination I had, we just might not make it back to the city. We might not get beyond that on ramp and be stuck in a drift in a car that was also 3 gallons away from EMPTY. Digging with my hands and the sun visor was the only plan and our only chance so I dug.
Even longer story short, we made it back to civilization though the city was as much a wasteland as the Van Wyck. Many more travails littered our path finding our way home but we managed several hours later. I resolved that it was officially time to stop whining about life and unpleasant circumstances. The time had come to get off the couch and face the music no matter how grating the melody. It’s time to slide over from the passenger seat and take the wheel. Every single minute was a frightening drag filled with doubt and a mounting panic but the best part was knowing that by digging my way out I helped get us all home.
Perhaps I’ll start going to the gym and cut down on the fries and perhaps not. One thing is sure; you’ll never catch me sitting in the back leaving the hard work to others.