I was driving about 40 mph down the freeway. The visibility was low, the wind was angry and gusts hit the side of my little Topaz. I was nervous I had both my hands steady on the wheel and had slowed down to match the conditions. The roads were slick in areas and clear in others, drifting snow snuck up onto the freeway, as if it was reaching…it’s finger tips touching the white line. There were moments where I could see 100 feet in front of me, and a gust would come and I could only see about 10.
I Hit It
I did not see the 3′ drift that had formed across the road until it was right in front of me. My car hit the drift and snow came cascading up over the windshield. I couldn’t see anything and in my panic, I hit the breaks, at that moment I just wanted to stop. My car started to spin and turned sideways. My heart racing as the front of the vehicle headed to what I knew was the edge of the freeway. Just as I feared I might plunge off the edge my tires found asphalt and I came to a sudden stop. I was perpendicular to oncoming traffic, yet relieved that I had not plunged off the edge.
I looked behind me and saw cars were off the road on both sides, and I could see a gentleman in a white truck with lights close by from highway maintenance trying to warn other drivers about the oncoming drift. I was afraid to back up and turn my wheels in the right direction because it would put me in the line of oncoming vehicles. I was young, I didn’t know what to do so I got out of my car. I noticed my back bumper met the white line on the edge of the road. I was relieved that maybe I was far enough off the road that my car would not be hit. As I went to speak to the maintenance guy out of the drift came flying a white SUV, I was close enough that I could feel the air flow past me. In shock at its speed as it busted through the 3′ drift, I turned around and saw that it was headed right for the back of my vehicle. My heart skipped a beat…the driver being as shocked by the drift as I was, then seeing my car in the way was trying to stop, the brake lights so bright next to the blinding white snow. I gasped as did the highway maintenance guy, and stood frozen in shock as the event raced forward. Breathing a sigh of relief when the driver was able to miss my bumper in what looked like a centimeter save.
Another young man ran up as this was happening, all three of us sure that he would hit my car. The young man had seen my vehicle narrowly miss the accident and asked how he could help. The highway man seeing the danger we were all in because of our location and the visibility told me that he would arrange a tow truck and the young man offered to take me home. I was nervous with the arrangement but the man seemed nice enough. He was about my age and explained that he was on his way back to school at BYU Provo. I did not know what else to do so I gratefully accepted the ride.
I did not know what else to do. I could not keep standing on the side of the freeway, nor would it be safe to go and sit in my car. I did not have a cell phone so I couldn’t call my husband so I graciously accepted the offer. I gathered a few things that I needed from my car as quickly as I could and climbed into the passenger side of the young man’s car.
He was so kind and I was able to get to know him a little on our 40-minutee drive to my house. He was a student on his way back to school after his Christmas break. We talked about how narrowly that SUV had missed my car and chit chatted about majors and such. When we pulled into the driveway at my house he came in with me. We sat down and relayed the story to my husband who listened carefully. He shook the guys hand and thanked him for bringing me home and I waved as he headed on his way.
He was Angry with me
I honestly expected my husband to hug me and let me know how glad he was that I was safe. I was shocked when he turned around and showed me his disapproval.
The day had been traumatic enough, I had no idea that the day would become worse. He laid into me for not backing the car up and for not driving it home. He asked me if I had any idea how much a tow truck was going to cost us. I was shocked. The highway maintenance had not given me an option. He had seen how dangerous the conditions were. I tried to re-explain the situation. To tell him that it would have been really dangerous for me. I explained that I would have had to back into possible oncoming traffic in order to turn the car the right direction so I could drive it. That oncoming cars would not have been able to see me because of the drift and the wind gusts. He refused to hear what I was saying. He told me again that if the vehicle was on the road I should have backed it up and turned it around and driven it home. I tried to explain again, sure that he was not understanding me. I was so confused. My brain could not make sense of his anger towards me.
He treated me like I was so stupid. It took us a couple of days to go and get the car. It ended up costing $200. That day may have cost us $200 in cash, but it cost me so much more. His words repeated themselves over and over again in my mind. He treated me like I was so stupid and immature, and continued to remind me that I had done the wrong thing.
I began to shame myself. His nonstop chatter about it….. he convinced me that the highway maintenance guy was trying to trick me out of our money. He just wouldn’t stop.
Money meant more than my safety
His actions convinced me that the $200 was more important than my safety. That it was more important than me.
I sat in defeat. I thought I had done the right thing. I thought that he would be happy that I made it home and that I was safe. All he cared about was the money I was costing him. I cried, this would end up becoming one of the big moments where I would begin doubting myself.
Oh how I wish I wouldn’t have been in such need for his approval and love. I wish I would have had the courage and self-esteem to stand up to him on that day 20 years ago. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know at the time that I deserved so much better.
The lesson: Don’t let anyone undervalue you. No $200 dollars is ever more important than your safety.
I would pay everything I have for my husband and boys safety. $200 can be replaced, I can’t and neither can you.