Tuesday, April 5, 2005

I gave up caffeine last December. It was hard, but it's been good for me, both in terms of my health and in helping me to find some discipline. I had a cup of coffee on Valentine's Day with dessert, but other than that I've been clean for three and a half months. Until last Saturday. I went to a LAN party at BigDawg's place up in Concord after having had to be up early to take cats to the vet. Mix in some daylight savings time and you've got me going home after a really, really long day. So, I grabbed a Code Red, knowing that I would have trouble staying awake for the drive and suspecting that the roads were terrible.

They were. Old Man Winter decided to throw one last storm at us. I was driving about 45 MPH down the I-271 express lanes, got the 4WD on, doing alright riding in someone's wheel ruts. I got wicked sleepy, so I cracked open the Code Red. While I've got the drink in my right hand, a gust of wind pushes my left wheels out of the rut and into the deeper snow. This causes the vehicle to yaw left. With one hand, I attempted to correct and in the process I overcorrect. Now I'm going right and it's too late to fix it. I slid sideways off the road and into the median where my tires finally find some resistance and threatened to tip the truck over. Fortunately, it didn't. It stopped and settled back down on all four wheels in a difficult position but otherwise unscathed.

Well, shit, said I. At least I've got four wheel drive, right? So I put it in 4 Low, and started to try to move the vehicle. I managed to go back and forth until I'd backed up about five feet, but it won't go any more. So, I made a brilliant decision. I'd just use that five feet to get up some speed and blast across the other side and into the local lanes. The ditch had other ideas. I made it about three feet farther than I'd been, but I then slid sideways into the swamp. No amount of rocking, digging out snow with my foot, or anything else short of external assistance was going to dislodge me now.

At least I've got AAA, right? So I called AAA and waited about 20 minutes on hold watching nervously as my cell battery drained. I've got no car charger. Well, I do now, I just didn't then. As I was on hold, a friendly Highland Hills police officer pulled up and takes my license. Now I'm thinking I'm going to get a ticket for failure to control or something. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. He just checked me out, set out some flares for me, made sure I had heat in the car and that help was on the way and then left to help the next hapless soul.

Eventually AAA did answer the phone, and they prepared me to wait for up to an hour and a half for a tow truck to winch me out of the ditch. Fortunately, it didn't take that long. I happened to be near one of the towing company's recent stops and I only waited about half an hour. They winched me out and the rest of the trip was fairly uneventful.

So what did I learn from this experience? No more cheating on the caffeine. :)

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