Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Auntie Jo Faces the Apocalypse, then Turns Tail and Runs Away

Auntie Jo doesn't know if you've heard, but there was some rain in Texas this week. It apparently came from some hurricane or other bashing against the south end of the state.

Auntie Jo is no stranger to rain, bad weather, or zombie hordes, having grown up here. However, she doesn't remember there ever being a rain like this one. Sure, that storm drain in Littleton overflowed last year, trapping her in rapidly-rising water, but this was... ... ...

I'll just tell you the story, shall I?

I went into work late. We didn't have any patients in the neuro critical-care unit, and I'd asked to be pushed back if that were the case. At about nine, Stoya called, so I got my skates on and wandered out into the fairly heavy, but nothing unusual, rain.

It was ten to ten at that point.

Everything went well for about five minutes, until I reached the southern edge of Littleton. Then traffic slowed to a crawl, the rain got heavier and heavier, and I watched with some interest as the water in a drainage ditch rose and rose, until it was covering the highway and creeping up the wheels of the truck in front of me.

Just after eleven, I called my boss. I had spent an hour on the road and had gone approximately ten miles, and the highway department had closed the highway due to high water. Closed. The. Highway. I remember this happening exactly twice in my lifetime: once due to a tanker truck that exploded and spilled fuel all over the road, and once because some creek north of here in nowheresville hopped its banks and flooded the road close to the Oklahoma border. It never happens between Yeehawville and Bigton, though. Ever.

My boss, Frog love her, said, "We'll deal with it." I had not made the decision not to try to make it until I was on the phone with her. As we were talking, I looked to my left and saw that one of the many fingerlike projections of Lake Giganto had come across the highway just ahead of me. My lizard brain kicked in. I decided to turn around.

The highway patrol guys (and lordy lordy how I would hate to be a cop in those situations!) had opened one whole lane of the road, and people were picking their way across the (moderately deeply flooded) area. I downshifted to second, said a little prayer, and proceeded across with the stately grace for which I'm known.

Everybody made it but me. The Honda's wiring harness hangs low and wobbles to and fro, apparently, because suddenly the car just freaking quit working. There was water lapping against the bottom of the car (odd sensation, that), the power steering went out, the engine quit with a horrible sound, and I was left wrestling the car to the side of the road, thankfully out of the water. Inertia is a very useful tool sometimes; it can get you out of a puddle as easily as it can get you into one.

So. I'm on the side of the road with a very nice man tapping on the window asking if I'm all right. After I opened the door (no power for the windows, dammit!) and reassured him, I sat for what felt like an hour, shaking, and then restarted the car. It caught and came to life on the second try.

It was nearly noon at that point.

The homebound traffic was moving faster. I was going a whole thirty miles an hour at the moment that an eighteen-wheeler and I went through the same puddle simultaneously, and the truck's wheels created a wash that lifted the Honda clear off the road and sloshed me over to the right shoulder. "Oh no, not again" was not what I was thinking. I was not thinking anything. I felt strangely calm and remote, and the two seconds I was not in control of the car lasted a week. Then the car's wheels caught the gravel on the shoulder, the electrical system coughed once and decided to continue to work, and I spun out the ass-end of the car to the edge of a ditch before I managed to get back on the highway.

It was not raining in Littleton when I finally got home at twelve-thirty, having spent two hours and forty minutes going twelve miles in one direction and twelve miles in the other.

Reader, I will not lie: I came in, called Boss Lady and Stoya to let them know I was okay, and then poured myself a healthy shot of the 18-year-old Laphroiag I'd been saving for a special occasion. Then I made myself a sandwich, ate it, and poured myself another shot. It was halfway through the second shot that I quit shaking and sweating.

Max and I snorgled on the kitchen floor for a while before I took a nap.

I am never doing this day again.


Celeste said...

(((poor you)))

I hope tomorrow is a better day.

Anonymous said...

Ay dios mio. Laphroaig to the rescue.

woolywoman said...

Good Lord! Gad your lizard brain made you turn around, glad you made it!

Anonymous said...

I've never had to deal with flooded roads but I've done whiteout snowstorms (for minor hockey games of all things) and thickly iced switchback roads (just to get to work). Never again.

Glad you are safe.

messymimi said...

You have my sympathy. I had to go out during Hurricane Gustav to rescue my son, whose car had flooded out. Deep water, dangling wires and street lights, high winds, lashing rain; lets make a pact that neither of us will try this again. It's not worth it.