I am thankful for Thursday. Not the one coming up that Americans call Thanksgiving. The one from last week that was a complete white shit show. It was awful, don’t get me wrong. Eight hours in snow and ice and never getting to your destination is a very bad day indeed but I realize it could have been much, much, worse.
I should probably back this up a bit. I was scheduled to do a show in Huntington, NY which is Long Island. With a decent commute it is a two hour ride. For days the weather forecast was for two to four inches of snow where I live. Lesser amounts around the city. Not a big deal for those of us who live in the North East. We are used to that driving. It is slower. It is more treacherous but it is manageable for most of us. This was a very good paying show for a person I have only worked for once before. I would be working with Joe Currie which was nice too. With the forecast the way it was I planned on giving myself extra time to get there. I gave myself 5 hours for what is normally a two hour drive. I was giving myself so much extra time that Joe and I planned on meeting for dinner before the show.
I looked out the window and saw that it was just starting to snow. I figured it was time to hit the road. I put my shovel in the back of my car…just in case. I brought some gloves with me since it was chilly. I was low on gas but I would fill up when I got to NJ since it was much cheaper there and I had more than enough to get to the gas station. I put on my cowboy boots and into the weather I went.
My car was slipping and sliding more than I liked but I was able to keep it on the road. I got onto 17 East in NY and started to make my way to the gig. Everything was moving well until it wasn’t. A couple of miles into my drive and we were not moving. I was watching the snow pile up on the highway as we sat. Truth be told for the amount of snow we had so far there was a lot on the highway. Didn’t they salt ahead of time? Didn’t they plow? Around 4:30 I texted Joe and told him I was sitting in traffic and I would update him. I told him where I was which was essentially not far from my house. Slowly we started to move. And then stop. And then move. The thing with driving in the snow is once you stop on an incline you may not be able to start again. You may get stuck. I got stuck. In the middle of the highway. It is a scary feeling when you are in the middle of a highway in slippery conditions and you have to worry about getting yourself unstuck and worry about somebody hitting you. I managed to get myself moving again. I am thankful I did. I am thankful nobody hit me. As I made my way down 17 ever so slowly I saw car accidents in the middle lane, left lane, and right lane. Everyone would shift to get around one accident and then another one would be right in front of you. Rinse repeat. I am thankful I was not one of those cars that were in an accident on 17. There were cars that slid off the side of the road. I am thankful I was not one of them.
I was listening to the traffic report and they shut down the George Washington Bridge. There was a 30 car accident on the upper level. I am thankful I was not one of those cars. This was now backing up traffic for hours in all directions. It looked like I had to take the Tappan Zee Bridge which I am unfamiliar with as far as getting to Long Island. My wife made me install Waze a few months ago. I rarely use it. I used it Thursday since it is good for alternate routes and updated traffic on those routes. I am thankful I had Waze.
I started my way down the NYS Thruway. I would not be heading to NJ to take the George Washington Bridge. All this time in the car and spinning tires took its’ toll on my gas tank. I was now very low. I was in the left lane trying to stay on the road. Gas was all the way to my right at a rest area. I dared not try and get there. I would have to take my chances and hope I could find a gas station along the way.
I continued down the Thruway and got stuck again. Once again another car stopping in front of me caused me to stop and I could not get it going again. Somehow I got myself free and continued. I was thankful for that.
Finally I saw two snow plows. First ones I had seen. Where were they? One of the drivers was an asshole and cut me off and appeared to be mad at me like I knew where he wanted to go. He has the snow plow. I have a compact car without snow tires. I came upon an exit. I figured I would get off there and get some gas. I got off but I sat on the ramp for 30 minutes. Traffic was a mess. I looked to my right and saw a gas station a few blocks away. I did not think I would have enough time to make this gig if I dared try and battle this traffic. Instead I got back on the Thruway.
Waze did not want me to take the Tappan Zee Bridge. It wanted me to get off the Thruway in about 15 miles. That would take me to the end of the limit with my gas. It was a gamble. I struggled along in the left lane. It was the cleanest lane. Now I had a cop behind me with his lights on riding my bumper. He could have gone around me to the middle lane. His car was better suited for that. He did not. He made me switch lanes into a very snowy middle lane. He is a douche. I kept on going and once again on an incline the car in front of me stopped. I was stuck. A Mustang was fishtailing to my right. He was coming very close to hitting me. I had a car behind me so I could not reverse. To the left were the woods. I was stuck. I did not have the room to reverse or try and drift to the right side and I did not want to go off the road. I got out of the car in my cowboy boots to assess the situation. Cowboy boots are not the best for snow and ice. I tried to use my shovel to dig out. I am thankful I brought my shovel. I tried to dig out. Nothing. I lent the shovel to the guy in the Mustang so he could try and dig out. Nothing. Traffic was building behind us. I was at the beginning of a good old fashioned standstill. More people were getting out and trying to help each other. Some cars were able to get free. If I could get free it might free up more traffic. Another guy tried to work around my tires and knock off some ice. The Mustang driver tried to help me too. My car was not going anywhere but these guys were right by my tires. I did not want to hit them. I did not. I am thankful I didn’t. The guy in the Mustang told me to take off my anti-lock on the tires. I thought that was for better traction. Taking it off made all the difference in the world as with that bit of advice, the other guy pushing, and my tires spinning I was able to get moving again. I am thankful to both of them for their help.
Now my car was screaming at me that I needed gas. All that spinning had inflicted damage on my gas tank. I had a few more miles to get to my exit. I made it. I am thankful. There was no gas to be found right off the exit so I continued to follow Waze while worrying about running out of gas. I also had to pee and was thirsty. Still nothing. Finally I came to a traffic light. Waze said turn left. It looked like a small road. Before I turned I gave a hard look down the road I was on. I saw lights. I hoped it was a gas station. It was. I am thankful I looked. I am thankful for the full tank of gas. I am thankful for the bathroom. I am thankful for the bottle of water.
It was time to get into the car and make my way towards the George Washington Bridge. Enough time had passed to where it was open but now it would just be insane delays. I made my way. And then I sat. Road shut down temporarily as there were cars in the ditch. Finally that cleared up.
I got in touch with Joe and he told me to head home. I called the man who hired me. He sounded in a panic that there would not be enough show. I tried to get in touch with Joe again to see if he wanted me to keep trying. I couldn’t get in touch with him. I sat in a strip mall while I waited. I went to get a slice of pizza. The pizza place was out of pizza. Finally I got back in touch with Joe. He told me that the original host cancelled so Joe hired another headliner and they would be able to cover the time. I am thankful Joe hired another headliner to replace the host.
I made my way home with a full tank of gas and an empty stomach. I found a pizza place on 17 North in NJ. They had pizza. I am thankful they did and that they were open.
I made it home over eight hours after I left accomplishing nothing but survival. For that I am thankful. Some people were stuck in their car for 15 hours. I was not one of them. I am thankful. Some people got into car accidents. I did not. For that I am thankful. One person lost their life when their car slid onto the rail road tracks and died. I did not perish and for that I am thankful. I made it home in one piece and my car no worse for wear. I am thankful. My wife and neighbor shoveled so I could pull into the driveway. For that I am thankful. There were even fresh cookies waiting for me. I am thankful my family made cookies and left me some. Joe and the other comic were able to cover the time and the show went well. I am thankful. On Friday I got in touch with the man that hired me and he was very understanding. I am thankful for that. On Saturday Joe gave me some money for my effort to get there. I am thankful for that.
So Thursday had a lot of bad things. Many of which should have been avoided by local authorities. Still all things considered I was pretty lucky. And for that I am thankful. Being thankful in the face of hardship can be very hard but in this case it helped me keep my sanity and for that I am thankful.