In which the last week of school does not go according to plan

My last week of school for the semester was December 12-14.  Monday was okay, although the essay portion of my Philosophy exam took me an hour and a half (mainly because I like to talk).  I really liked Philosophy, and if it’ll fit in my course schedule, I’d like to take Philosophy of Religion also.

Tuesday I had to give a special occasion speech.  I spent Monday night writing the speech, procrastinator that I am.  My topic was the commemoration of a monument in H.P. Lovecraft’s honor.  I wasn’t too awful excited to give my speech because I knew it wouldn’t be something the audience would be super interested in.  But, heck, I had enough books of his lying around that I had the material to write it.  I wrote and rewrote my note cards at least three times.  That’s the way I learn my speech: rehashing my notes several times.  So I went to bed fairly confident that I could give my speech, although I wasn’t so sure it would be interesting.

The next morning started out fine.  There was snow in the forecast, and as soon as I was about to pull out of the driveway, the truck with the black stuff went by.  Our road was actually ready ahead of time for once.

During the drive down to school, it started snowing.  It wasn’t sticking to the road, but there was a lot of it getting blown around.  I was rocking out to Pavement and things were going alright.

When I got to the hill by South Dearborn on 350, there was a Jeep facing up the hill parked on the other side of the road.  I thought it was kind of odd that they would pull across traffic to stop on a shoulder.  The people ahead of me on the road were going really slow and riding their brakes down the hill.  When I got on the brakes to keep a safe distance, my car lost traction and I started to slide to the right.  I tried to get it under control, but the car ended up making a big arc to the left.  I was going at a 45 degree angle to the road and doubted I could get the car under control, so I tried to let the car go off the road as safely as possible.

The sound a car makes when it’s sliding freely on ice makes my adrenaline rush now.  Going down the hill, it was silent except for the white noise of the tires on slick road, and it felt like someone other than me had taken over my body.  The way I was steering felt like it was a dream.  I felt calm and frightened at the same time.  As soon as I came to a stop, pointing down the hill on the opposite side of the road about ten feet away from the shoulder, it seemed that my senses came back to me.  “Speak, See, Remember” was playing on my stereo and the heater was blowing loudly.  I looked at myself in the rearview mirror and saw fear in my eyes.

Nobody was answering when I called 911.  I contacted Mom and Dad, trying to get the Aurora police department’s phone number, but the battery died right before Mom could tell me it.  (My phone says its battery is low when I’m on the phone for only two or three minutes, then it shuts off.  It comes right back on, though.)

A man stopped and called the police for me.  He waited there until they came.  When I thanked him, it was like the most genuine “thank you” I had ever said.  The police came a while later and said they’d bring a tow truck.

After the officer left, I waited for probably ten minutes, and then a housewife-looking woman with a Bluetooth headset and a pink headband came to my window.  She seemed super eager to help me, but I expected the police back any minute, so I told her help was coming.

A minute or so after she left, I realized that my battery was almost dead.  I had forgotten to turn off my headlights.  No police came after many minutes, and it was starting to get cold.  Thankfully, Dad put a coat in my car for emergencies, and I didn’t give a crap how unfashionable it was at this point.

Up until this time, I remained calm.  But when twenty minutes went by without anyone stopping and with me sitting there with a dead battery (although I had jumper cables in the trunk, thanks to Dad again), I started to worry.   Ten minutes or more went by and nobody came to help me.

A blue truck stopped, and an older man and a forty-something man in a Carhartt one-piece and an orange toboggan got out.  I explained my situation, and they thought they could pull me out.  I didn’t think that my jumper cables would reach their car, but they had one of those portable battery chargers and I was back in business in no time.  The younger man hooked my front end up to their truck.  The older man pulled me out while the younger walked alongside me as I steered back up the hill.  I was so thankful for their help, but I didn’t get a chance to say thank you because Mom and Dad called right when they were leaving.

I sat on the shoulder for a few minutes, trying to figure out why my seat belt wasn’t working properly, when a police SUV and a tow truck pulled up.  I told the cop how I got out of the hill and that I didn’t need to be towed.  He seemed kind of put off, but if it wasn’t for those two men in the truck I would have been so happy to see the police car.

I got back on the road, which by this time was slushy and ten times worse than before.  (The hill totally caught me off guard because I didn’t skid at all on the way there.  I went slow down the hill, but apparently not slow enough.)  It took me half an hour to drive from the hill to school.  Everyone was going so slow that I pretty much coasted or was on the brakes the whole time.

When I got to school, almost everyone had given their speeches.  Only three people (I think) were left, and the teacher forgot that I hadn’t even given mine yet.  I was shaking and had a knot in my throat, not because I was nervous to give my speech, but because of what had just happened.  I gave my worst speech all year and watched myself do everything wrong but felt unable to stop myself.  I didn’t expect my teacher to cut me any slack because of what happened, though.

Class was over at 1:30.  (I got there at 1:00.)  If I had had to wait for the tow truck, I would have missed class.  I decided to skip English (which didn’t start until 3:00) and just go home.  I called Dad to let him know I was coming home, and toward the end of the conversation, my phone ran out of minutes.  I went straight to CVS and bought more, in case something happened on the way home.  I had to drive between 25 and 45 mph all the way home, so it took me almost an hour to get there.  When I finally did, I realized that I had been so tense on the drive home that the muscles in my palms were aching and my shoulders were extremely tense.  I was just so glad to have made it home safely.

The next evening I had Finite Math.  I think I got an A+.  The road was a whole lot better and I was so glad to be done.


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