Wednesday, February 5, 2014

That day my car got stuck in the snow...

Roughly 6 months ago, I went to the DMV to get my new Illinois plates and driver's license. One of the men who worked there looked at my application, handed it back to me, and said, "Are you sure? Do you know what happens here in Chicago in the winter?"

"Yes, yes sir, I do, and I have a new job so I guess it's time to say good-bye to my California plates."

"Well, miss, it's not too late. You can move back still. I'm fairly certain convertibles don't do well here in the snow. If you're sure, you can pass that application back over."

"Yes, yes sir. I'm sure."

"Okay, well, just so you know, you can turn back pretty much up until when you pay."

I knew what I was getting in to, but, well, I'd like to go back to the DMV and apologize to that man for laughing when he'd probably be laughing at me today.

Some days life just is laughable. And bizarre. Much like my first day of summer school at Comienza, today was a laughable day where things happened that I just did not anticipate.

...and since I will laugh about this now--but also want to laugh about this in the future, I thought I'd write a little bit about what happened.

For those of you not acquainted with the terms "Chiberia" and "polar vortex", well, I'm not sure I understand either of them fully, but I do know that this winter has been one of the coldest in over 30 years. I believe Chicago is rapidly turning into an iceberg (though I have a hunch a science teacher can quickly prove to me that this is a highly inaccurate statement).

All that said, it's been cold. And snowy. And I drive a MINI cooper convertible and park on the street. I bet you can guess what happened this morning.

So it's a lovely Wednesday morning. I've gone to bed at a decent hour, I roll out of bed at 6:10, take 15 minutes to get ready (I have a default early morning snowy day outfit), and depart for my car that I successfully parallel-parked last night. I have given myself 45 minutes to dig out my car.

When I allotted 45 minutes for this task last night, I wondered if perhaps I was overestimating how much time this would take. My instincts told me based on previous shovelings this winter that this should take no more than 20 minutes, but I have a work goal around effectively managing my time, and I have learned that it's better to give myself double the time I need for something than half the time. So 45 minutes it was.

I approach my car bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, shovel in one trendily leather-gloved hand, diet coke in the other equally cute leather-gloved hand, and...

A monster snowstorm has taken place only on the driver's side of my car--and only on my car! Is this really possible? Could it be that a cloud hovered over this one spot on the street all night long and graced me (and only me) with extra snow?

Ohhhh I see, neighbors, you used your snowblower to clear your sidewalk and felt that my car was the perfect place to relocate all that extra snow. It's cool. No sweat. I gave myself extra time just in case something like this occurred.

In about ten minutes, I have very nicely cleared out most snow around my car. In the past, my car has struggled to get over small heaps of snow due to how low it sits to the ground. While I appreciate this feature of my car and love the way it drives, I as a result am particularly diligent about getting rid of as much snow as possible.

Time to roll. I hop in my car which is nice and toasty, and I begin to pull my car out of my spot. Then the dreaded wheel spinning begins. This is when my car's tires move. A lot. But I do not. This has happened before, but eventually, slowly but surely, my car has usually been able to get moving.

My car does not. I have moved a little bit, but my car is clearly stuck on some snow somewhere, so I move my car back to park, grab the shovel, and begin to investigate. C'mon, baby car, you can do it!

I repeat this process several times, each time noticing that my 7:10 departure time is getting closer.

Over the course of 45 minutes, four neighbors offer assistance with shoveling, pushing my car, searching for the snow or ice that is holding my car back. ...and with each neighbor's approach I smile and insist...

Friends Ross I'm Fine photo tumblr_lm8mksZuwr1qd2z3j.gif

Really, this happens all the time; I knew I'd get stuck. You are so kind to help me. Oh, you can't see anything that my car is stuck on either? I know! It's crazy. Really, please don't spend your entire morning here--I'm sure I will get out of here soon. Thank you so much for your help. (I am wondering if the things holding my license plates on have earned me some pity--from the front of my car you see the words "North Hollywood" and the back "Pepperdine.")

At around 7:15 I frantically typed an email to RK, who I am supposed to be picking up from his hotel at 7:30 so he can join me on some school visits. This was also the time when a kind neighbor was convinced she could push my car out of my spot. We work together for 15 minutes but determine the car just won't budge so at 7:35 I call RK to inform him of my unfortunately snowed in situation. I am determined we will not miss both our observations, I thank him for being so awesome, and I tell him I will call him back once I've made a plan.

I also have texted my team to let them know I am failing at winter life, and my manager tells me to cab my way to observations. Scheduling these observations has been a challenge, and while I am feeling grateful that I can take a cab to get them done, I am also just in general feeling unsuccessful at life. Yes it's dramatic, but it was early morning, and I'm no longer bright-eyed or bushy-tailed.

I try for 15 minutes more to get my car out and finally just sit in my car for about 10 minutes, shoot RK an email to tell him we can cab our way over to a school, and then I suck it up and walk back into my house.

I take off my boots.
I sit down on the couch.
I get up, I walk into my bedroom, lie down on my neatly made bed, and I cry for approximately 78 seconds.


Then I get up, sit back down on the couch, and prepare to get some emails sent. Unfortunately, tears do not melt snow so I will have to take a different approach.

I'm back in a good mood--I'm going to take a cab to go to the hotel. RK and I can cab from there. In fact, I can even get both of my observations complete based on the teachers' schedules I have. Sure this isn't how I planned it, but I. Can. Do. It.

I'm gathering my things when a text comes in with the words "wanted to flag ASAP" and "ugh sorry." The teacher I am about to see has had a schedule change. This is why I love my team--had Ashley not texted me, I would have closed my computer and not seen this schedule change until I arrived at the teacher's school. Fortunately, I am in a good mood at this point (and seriously, Ashley rocks), so I thank her and vow to work some schedule magic.

RK, oh dear RK, you are the most patient man in the world. I send him my 3024th email of the morning:


This morning is just not working as planned. I just got an update from _____, who we were going to see at 10--her schedule is off because of the snow and teachers being out.

All that said, we can still get to ____'s class at 10:05. His school is a bit closer to you so I will see you at roughly 9:30. I am so sorry for all this confusion!


The man is a saint and replies promptly:

Hahahahahaha. I'm in Chicago in February. I understand that it's best to roll with the snow-related punches ;-)

See ya soon!

...and so I successfully uber a car to take me to his hotel. While en route, the driver begins chatting with me. I am a firm believer in being nice to drivers, particularly ones who pick me up when I have no other means of getting to a school (and when I know they will give me a rating post-uber-ride that other drivers can see), so we begin talking about this crazy weather.

My driver tells me he turned down 40 requests for rides, but I am lucky. He selected me, and oh, do I have a boyfriend?


Yes, I do.

The driver tells me he knows I'm going to get married this year--so this guy must be the one. I tell him that I will share this information with my boyfriend, he'll be happy to hear he's the one. (Note: This conversation will not take place as I currently do not have a boyfriend, but my driver knows this is the year, so it's all good. #sarcasmmarks)

"Y'know sir, I'm wondering if perhaps you think I'm going to get married, because my brother is getting married. Maybe that's it." I've learned it can be an effective strategy to move the subject away from myself, and my brother's wedding always offers plenty to chat about. Thanks, Chris.

After asking some questions about how long they've been dating, if I like Chris' fiance (yes, I do like her, I think she's pretty awesome, which the driver finds fascinating since "the women never get along"), he entrusts me with some wisdom to pass onto my older brother:

Have kids as soon as possible. The longer you wait the harder it gets. You know, these things, there's only really a couple years before it gets tough, and I mean, if he's 30...

Please, please let me arrive at the hotel soon.

So after a fertility chat that comes in a close second to an oncologist showing both my dad and me a diagram of ovaries in terms of awkwardness, I arrive at the hotel.

I skip quickly out of the car, into the lobby, and greet a cheerful RK. We step back out into the cold, and the wonderful doorman grabs us a cab and sends us on our merry way to our school visit.

Flash forward fifteen minutes, and we pull up alongside a street that is blocked off.

After confirming that we have in fact arrived at the right location, I notice flames as we step out of the cab.

"Oh my gosh, RK. I think there's a car on fire. This is crazy--I hope we can get through to the school."

It's at this moment I also of course see an ambulance and firetruck and feel grateful that they are there to deal with this scary situation.

...and then I see a speaker. And a man wearing a jacket that says "security."


"Oh. I think they're filming Chicago Fire here. Well, that's a relief--I'm so glad that's not a real car accident. It looks like we can get through on the sidewalk over there."

So we walk on over to make the approximately 500 foot trek to the school and are stopped by a somewhat-kind man. "I'm going to have to ask you to wait until we put the fire out."

"Okay, that's fine I guess. Just to confirm, there actually is a school down and to the right, yes?"

With a second source of confirmation, we patiently wait for the fire to be put out and walk to the school.

I will spare the long school story here, but I definitely quickly figure out which student I would want to hang out with if I were teaching. He issues a very joyful "Hola!" to me when he walksin the room, and when the teacher directs students to label their papers from 1-10, he calls out, "I know the number! The number is four!" Later in the lesson, when the teacher directs another student who is on the other side of the room, let's call him Jimmy, to move his clip on their behavior chart, he calls out, "I'm not Jimmy!" My heart melts. You, my friend, are listening to everything I as the teacher say (even if there's some confusion about what I mean), you want to learn and are excited about it, we will be fast friends, and I adore you already. Let's play a game where we guess the number I'm thinking of between 1 and 10.

...and then finally, after a final trek past the set as they continue to film and we endure a frosty wait for our car, RK and I cab our way back to our respective next stops...mine being my house, and I vow never to leave it again. Well, at least not until 6 pm when I have to go dig my car out again...but you know...


I still love Chicago...but today was laughable. Go ahead and laugh at me. Here's hoping tomorrow comes with a little less craziness but an equal amount of laughs.


P.S. I totally forgot my picture of Chicago Fire-ness (I don't think they liked that I took a picture, but you know what, I waited patiently while you filmed, and I also earned this picture after my morning):

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