I don't know how Winter's been treating you in your neck of the woods, but here in North Alabama, things have been... cold. And wet. And cold. And snowy.
Which always leads to ice.
Now, if you're from up North, I appreciate the fact that you think drivers on our side of the Mason-Dixon line are all inept when it comes to the white stuff. You're kind of right. We just don't get enough snow to have ever learned to deal with it appropriately. We don't have snow shovels and tire chains and all that jazz. What we do have is the ability to come to a grinding, screeching halt at the mere mention of a Winter Event.
It was actually a few days after the dreaded Winter Event that Disney saved my life. Or at least my bumper.
I was traversing mostly-melted-but-still-a-bit-of-ice-Nashville with my big ol' van full of people. We were attending a training class for doTERRA and had carpooled for fellowship (read: entertainment!). We pulled onto the lot of the hotel in which the training was being held and followed the flow of traffic towards the parking deck.
Keep in mind, my snazzy big van needs about an 8 foot clearance. I was watching for signage telling me what the clearance was in the garage, but there wasn't anything. There were, however, several valets watching me. I suppose they were taking bets on how well the redheaded girl in the big van was going to maneuver the narrow driving passages with huge columns of concrete on either side.
I'll tell you what they weren't doing: Flagging me down to say I was too tall to get in the garage.
Maybe they didn't know.
Clearance was 6'9". I'm over a foot too tall for that mess, but I didn't know until I was at the entrance to the garage. I had weaved between the columns in my oversize vehicle, banking on a sign or a valet to let me know if I could get in the garage or not.
Maybe no one could tell by looking at my vehicle that we were too tall.
For my part, I couldn't see the stinking garage opening until I was all but right up to it (lots of ginormous, cement columns).
When we did pull up to the opening, I jumped out of the van to look at the situation. Too tall to go in the garage, six cars behind me, nowhere for anyone to go except for everyone to back up out into the road.
There was an alternate outlet that I could have used if we could have backed up just 20 feet or so, but an over-sized vehicle was parked there, blocking the way.
At this point, a valet came over and very helpfully pointed out that my van was too tall for the parking deck.
I was hyperventilating at the thought of backing through all those ding-dang cement columns, but the valets sweetly began directing traffic so I could do just that.
I squeezed my eyes shut, climbed back into the driver seat, and put the Beast in Reverse. I rolled my window down because the super-helpful valet was now going to guide me out. I asked him if there was any way we could just get The Other Over-sized Vehicle moved and he (helpfully) shrugged at me. I glanced at the reverse camera screen, noted that I had 'plenty' of space to move, and put my foot lightly on the gas pedal.
I'd moved about 4 very cautious feet backward when my phone started ringing. At exactly the same moment, the extremely sensitive sensors built into my van (the ones that tell me I'm too close to something) started their high-pitched beeping. I glanced at the camera screen again and at the valet and saw that, while I was close, I had about five feet of maneuverability on either side of me.
The valet kept hollering at me to 'come on back, keep coming', the phone was making noise, the sensors were sounding, and then one of the ladies in the van started telling me to "Stop, STOP!" (in her defense, her view of things was very different than mine, and she didn't know I had a rear camera).
Y'all. I'm a mama to five children. I know noise. I am accustomed to lots of sensory input.
However, I'm usually sitting on the couch or standing in the kitchen when data overload happens.
NOT strapped into a seat of a moving vehicle with seven other people, stressed because I don't exactly enjoy backing large vehicles through ridiculous spaces.
I don't even remember what I hollered out, but I do remember feeling instantly like a jerk.
That's about the time somebody magically appeared with keys to The Other Over-sized Vehicle. I managed another 10-ish feet backwards, sighed in relief as I transitioned to Drive, and started pulling forward.
My helpful valet pointed down a side street and told me I could just remove the 'Reserved' cone down the hill and park there. I smiled and relaxed as I turned onto the one way street and started towards my parking spot. My Reserved parking spot. I flexed my fingers and felt the return of blood flow into them. My very own, all for me, great big vehicle, Reserved spot.
Y'all remember I opened this post talking about snow and ice and cold?
The side street was completely in the shadows of two tall buildings and all but totally covered with ice. I had a stretch of about 25 feet of ice in front of me and, once again, nowhere to go. There was a useless strip of naked road in the middle where the ice had melted off, but the cars parked on the right side of the street prevented me from having any access to that ice-less strip.
We all debated what to do and it was decided I should go forward. There was no backing out at this point - the turns had been very tight and traffic was getting heavier. Plus, they'd parked The Other Over-sized Vehicle back in it's ridiculously inconvenient place.
I slowed to almost a stop and we all held our breath at we felt the change from traction to traction-less as the front wheels, and then the back wheels, rolled onto the ice. Since the downhill grade was pretty steep, gravity took care of our forward movement.
About halfway down, we started sliding towards the left where there was maybe three feet of space between the curb and the building. I could feel my blood pressure rising again, my fingers once again clutching the wheel.
And that's when it happened: I could clearly see Doc Hudson. I could hear him telling Lightening McQueen to turn into the slide.
I did just what the Doc ordered; I turned into the slide. We stayed straight, not moving any farther away from the wall, but not any closer. When the front wheels hit pavement, the van jerked horribly. I giggled out of sheer nervousness, pulled into the parking spot assigned to us, and thanked God for Disney!
I'm pretty sure that some book or driver's ed instructor or even my Daddy told me to turn into the slide. But y'all, I'm just sayin' that if it weren't for Disney movies, this scenario could have turned out very differently.