Hydroplane in Vain

I know cats are supposed to get nine lives, but I’m not clear on what the quota is for squirrels.

Whatever the total, the Squirrel Queen reduced her number by one last night after a scary hydroplaning incident on the way back from a basketball game.

Storms left H2O on the local highways and byways. I’d just driven through the heaviest pounding of the rain and wind without an issue. The precipitation reduced to a normal, non-typhoon state and I began to feel better about my trip home. Oh, was I wrong.

The Squirrel Queen was moving along at around the speed limit since the worst appeared to be over. The next thing I know, I feel my not-so-trusty truck lift as the rubber lost contact with the road. I shifted the steering wheel and didn’t feel that comforting sensation of the tires grabbing back onto the pavement. Instead, my truck’s rear end began to swing around. Fortunately, I knew there were no other vehicles anywhere near me on this four-lane stretch of highway, so I didn’t have to worry about involving another unsuspecting traveler in my sudden misery.

What did concern me was the question of how deep the median was and whether I would come to a stop before I came into contact with the rapidly approaching guard rail that I knew resided in the middle of the aforementioned median.

Spinning in the dark, I initially tensed as my vehicle left the road, expecting a potential sudden stop as I dropped off into the median, debating whether my truck would flip over if it was too steep an incline. Instead of plummeting, the truck continued to skim and skip and spin. OK. So either this grassy span isn’t that deep or I’m now floating across more standing water like the Delta Queen over the muddy Mighty Mississippi.
While pondering this, I continued to rotate.

Now facing the highway I’d just traversed, seeming to move forward in reverse, my next concern was the guard rail I couldn’t see but knew awaited me.
I braced myself again for the anticipated collision and expected sickening crunch, clutching the useless “steering” wheel, foot firmly planted instinctively on the brake.

I didn’t see my life pass before my eyes. Instead, I wondered what the force of the sudden stop would feel like. I contemplated the sound of the crushing connection the truck would make when it met the metal in the middle of the median.
Instead, I kept spinning. I faced to the forefront again and any sense of normalcy evaporated rapidly as my truck’s rear end continued its circuitous route, again swinging around to lead the charge.
Concerns about the guard rail were now pushed aside by my curiousity about how long this event was going to take. How many loop-de-loops was I going to make.
Then I sensed the vehicle beginning to slow and, before I knew it, I was stopped.
My front bumper was once again pointed in the direction I had been traveling not so long ago. But now the truck was resting in the grass just next to the two lanes of highway going the opposite way. Again, fate smiled through the rain as no traffic was approaching.

After a moment’s pause, I realized I was in one piece and my truck’s engine was still running. Now, the question was whether I would get stuck in the wet terrain where I’d come to a stop.

Peeling my foot off the brake, I reached for the accelerator, applied some pressure and waited to see if I’d just spin my wheels or gain traction and pull back onto the pavement. Thanfully, with no hesitation, the truck nudged forward and I now had to worry about any damage the steering or underbody of the vehicle may have incurred.

I headed back into the town I’d just departed from, knowing there was an empty parking lot just a few tenths of a mile in that direction. The truck and I both eased onward. I pulled off the street and shifted into park in order to take inventory.

Heart rate – elevated
Breathing – rapid
Sanity – barely intact

As for the truck, it appeared to be fine.
Except for all the grass on my windshield and the clots of mud and grass that stuck to my driver side mirror.

After a quick run through my mental checklist, there was no longer any reason to remain parked in this dark, empty lot on the edge of town.

I slipped the gear shift into drive and retraced my slippery path on the way back to the office to write a game story before my deadline. A deadline and a story that no longer held my attention the way they had just five minutes before.


One response to “Hydroplane in Vain

  1. We are all TRULY happy you’re okay. The world would be a sorry place without our favorite “rodent” to keep us in check.

    I WILL offer this up: Toyo Tires. The next time you need tires, PLEASE let me know. Toyo . . .

    I heard a funny one the other day. Moses didn’t really part the Red Sea. He had Toyo sandals, and the water started backing off the minute his foot hit the sea.

    That’s funny, but pretty accurate on how these tires work.

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