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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Snow Sorry

I'd like to apologize to the people who showed up at the Young Israel of West Rogers Park Melaveh Malka last night for the non-appearance of 2/3 of my band. (I should also apologize to the 1/3 of my band who packed up his stuff, drove down to Chicago, unpacked and set up his drums before I could contact him to let him know I wouldn't make it).

In all the hundreds of gigs I've played, I can't think of more than one or two that I had to cancel. And one was due to an assassination, definitely not under my control. Anyway, I am bummed that I couldn't get to Chi-town for this gig. But it wasn't for lack of trying.

I learned something about myself last night. I don't deal well with change. If I make a plan, I stick with it, regardless of how facts on the ground (or in the air) may change. Very rigid thinker, I am. And I don't take hints well.

It started off well enough yesterday. When I came home from shul in the morning, the weather was clear. By the time I went down for my Shabbos afternoon shluffy, a few flakes were falling. When I woke up for mincha, the ground was covered with snow, and it was still coming down heavily. And by havdalah time, there were a few inches on the ground.

After Shabbos, I went upstairs to print off a set list. My wife asked if I had checked with the National Weather Service. I said no, I could tell it was snowing. She said I should cancel the gig. It looked too dangerous on the roads. I said, this is Wisconsin. We don't cancel gigs for snow.

Then I called my guitarist, Mendel, to see if he was ready to be picked up. His wife also had reservations, and his father had apparently called and advised us to stay home. Nonsense, I said. Snow shmow. I'm a good driver (said Speed Racer). Besides, the streets may look bad, but the highways are usually OK. And I had already called someone in Chicago, who said the roads were fine there.

I should have seen it as a sign that, between the time I pulled up to Mendel's house and the time I actually drove off, I had to take out my snow brush and clear off the windows a few times. We pulled out and headed towards the highway. The streets were sloppy, but drivable.

Highway 41 was a sheet of white. No lanes. Not many cars either, which was OK, since I didn't feel comfortable going more than 25 MPH. Unfortunately, there were some SUVs who felt perfectly fine going 50, and they were scaring the cwap out of me. The merge onto 94 was another story. It was bumper to bumper all the way downtown. I was OK with that, because it meant nobody would be roaring past me.

As we inched our way towards the Marquette Interchange, I noticed that my car, driving as it was through the thick treads left by the SUV in front of me, wasn't always moving in the direction I wanted. Sometimes it was veering towards the median. I moved to a middle lane.

We eventually made it past the interchange and onto the main highway going South to Chicago. I should tell non-Midwesterners that it is typically a 70-80 minute drive from Milwaukee to Chicago. Give or take for traffic. We were already close to an hour into the drive, and had not left the city limits yet. Eventually, I passed a car which had done a 180 and smashed into the median. This, I mused, was the source of the traffic. And sure enough, after this car, the traffic became much lighter.

That was not a good development. Because at that point, cars, trucks and SUVs started moving a lot faster. And I still had very poor traction on my Geo. I started to wonder when it was that I had last replaced my tires. Or rotated them. Well, scratch that, I never rotate my tires. As long as the car is going straight, and not stopping suddenly, I have some control over it, I thought. Meanwhile, the highway ahead was still pure white, with no visible lanes, and snow was coming down heavily, but not heavily enough that it kept my windshield wipers from making that awful scraping sound every few wipes.

"You know," I said to Mendel, "It's at times like this when I'm inching along on a snow-covered highway during a blizzard, in a car filled with expensive guitars and no traction, that I really wished I'd listened to what my mother had told me when I was younger."

"What did she tell you?"

"I don't know. I didn't listen!"

Anyway, I thought, OK, I'll just keep going straight to Chicago. It's got to be better down there. That thought comforted me for about 5 minutes. That's when I noticed, in the lane to the right of mine, about 3 cars up, a pickup truck. The truck started to fishtail wildly, swerving from side to side in ever-increasing radii until it finally lost control, turned a full 90 degrees to the left, and drove straight across my lane, impacting with median. Then a car in front of me hit the truck.

I let out a brief, but calm, obscenity, and, with my video game-enhanced reflexes, veered the car to the right and narrowly avoided becoming part of the pile-up.

For a brief moment, after this, I looked at the highway ahead, which was completely clear of cars at this point, and though, "What the heck, how much worse can it get?"

That's when Mendel snapped me out of it. "This is nuts. We have kids. We need to turn around." And he was right, of course. So we got off the highway and made a slow journey back home.

I feel terrible about standing up all the great people who came out on a cold Saturday night to hear us play. But at least we lived to play another day.

26 comments:

GregoryT said...

Sorry to hear about the blizzard. But, for people in Chicago, you're supposed to be here for Knishmas!(Though I might not be there)

Stacey said...

Thank G-d you are ok and weren't part of that accident (or any other!).

Glad you finally decided to turn for home. I am stubborn like you and would've tried to make the trip, but that accident was clearly a sign to not continue!

Come play Texas. Yesterday was 86 degrees with sunny blue skies.

Doctor Bean said...

Powerful precipitation, Batman! Sounds like Mendel has some good judgment. He probably does something for a living that requires better decision making skills than what we do for a living.

We're thinking about taking the kids for a walk on the beach today. You?

PsychoToddler said...

Mendel is a doctor too. The smart kind. PhD. I've thought of changing the band name to Pairadocs. Get it??

What did we do today? I took the PT out to play in the snow. She left the house looking a lot like Robby the Robot. Then she decided to lie down in the snow and make a snow angel. When she got up she completely demolished it. Then she turned around to look at it and said, "What the--THAT'S not a snow angel!"

Stacey, at this rate, I don't think we could safely make it to the airport.

Doctor Bean said...

I'm reluctant to even think this, but is it possible that the snow could interfere with your trip to LA?

Jack's Shack said...

Better safe than sorry. It was cold here today too, I think it was around 62.

PsychoToddler said...

This might be a good time to start praying.

Mrs. Balabusta said...

Mendel has the brains? What about the women who told them to stay home in the first place?

Wait a minute, love means never having to say I told you so.

Doctor Bean said...

Mrs. Balabusta: I meant Mendel has the brains, for a guy. Women's judgment is always better, so there's no point making that comparison. It's like a different league.

MC Aryeh said...

Glad you made it safely home. I probably would have stubbornly kept going, too, but then I don't have kids. I like Pairadocs a lot, but not so much as a band name....

Ezzie said...

Good move to go home. Now, be smart like my Dad - get a Subaru! He drives it back and forth to shovel the snow... and that's in Cleveland, where the forecast a couple weeks ago was: "8-12 inches tonight, but 18-24 if you're in the snowbelt."

And school does NOT get cancelled.

Mirty said...

I like the story about PT's snow angel.

It's really cold here in Texas tonight. Hold on, let me check...whoa! 46 degrees. That's like, you have to wear a jacket.

(It was in the eighties yesterday. That was a little weird actually.)

I'm glad you turned back. With a big macho car like a Geo, I'm surprised you couldn't just go off-road and plow your way through!

Stacey said...

and that's in Cleveland, where the forecast a couple weeks ago was: "8-12 inches tonight, but 18-24 if you're in the snowbelt."

Ahhh, does that bring back memories of icicles that hung clear down to the ground.

And lucky me, CH-UH never seemed to close. If so, it was always the last.

Ezzie said...

Stacey - yeah, and the HAC would only close if CH-UH did; and even then, not necessarily.

fudge said...

from someone who already has a classmate less one parent: thanks.

PsychoToddler said...

I was going to write a Jack-like comment like:

"CH-UH and HAC. Why do all the Cleveland schools sound like barfing and coughing?"

But then I read Fudge's comment so I won't.

Essie said...

Jack's Shack said...
Better safe than sorry. It was cold here today too, I think it was around 62.

Mirty said...
It's really cold here in Texas tonight. Hold on, let me check...whoa! 46 degrees. That's like, you have to wear a jacket.

I am not in Wisconsin so I have not seen snow yet this winter but I still say :P to Mirty & Jack. My neck of the woods is supposed to get snow tonight, in fact, and I am not looking forward to it!

Jack's Shack said...

Here is a sample from our ten day forecast. It is really way too cold here.


66°/40°

68°/43°

70°/44°

70°/44°

64°/44°

68°/44°

PsychoToddler said...

That stinks. I was hoping for 80s. Hmm. Maybe I can change my tickets to Texas.

BTW it is 6 degrees here now.

Ezzie said...

"CH-UH and HAC. Why do all the Cleveland schools sound like barfing and coughing?"

YES is so much more agreeable. :)

PsychoToddler said...

Yes! "Just say YES."

Of course, I didn't come up with that name. I would have picked something like:

MOY (Milwaukee Orthodox Yeshiva) or

MENTCHS (Milwaukee ElemeNtary Torah CHildrens' School) or

PAYOS (Private All-Yeshiva Orthodox School) or

STRML (School for Torah-Related Milwaukee Learning)

Stacey said...

Here is a sample from our ten day forecast.

PT would be better served if you did a 10-day smog forecast.

PT, do your lungs a favor! Come to Dallas, instead.

Jack's Shack said...

Yep, try Dullass. ;)

Pragmatician said...

I admire you're professionalism, if the people who came to see your gig knew to what lengths you went through to get there they'd be proud to be fans!

Kiwi the Geek said...

I should tell non-Midwesterners that it is typically a 70-80 minute drive from Milwaukee to Chicago.

How on earth do you manage that? My parents live in Kenosha, and driving the speed limit, they take almost an hour to downtown M'waukee, and 90 min to downtown Chicago.

PsychoToddler said...

Time= Distance/Velocity