Everybody loves winter weather! I know, right?!
As shocking as it might seem, there are apparently some people who are less than fond of what we often refer to as “Winter.”
For those intrepid missionary types who may have been called to serve in somewhat more “tropical” climes, where sweating and swatting are considered Olympic sports, allow me to refresh your memories. There comes a time of year where, in some areas, the temperature drops precipitously, what would normally be a decidedly liquid form of water falls from the sky in a more crystalline form, and chicken farmers aren’t the only people using the word “layers.” (Yes, I know. That was horrible. I’m sorry.)
During the winter, you may hear some friends and family greeting one another, perhaps not with the Biblical “Holy Kiss,” but with more seasonal, festive statements like:
“I think my lips just fell off!”
“Ewww. Is that frozen snot in your beard? You get a handshake or side-hug.”
“No, I’m not making snow angels with you. That’s where the neighbor “walks” his dog….”
Well, far be it from me to cast judgement upon these “nattering nabobs of negativism” (points if you remember who said that…). But some of us kinda like a good snow. If you wake up in the chill of the morning, cast forth your gaze upon the glistening white landscape, and notice some maniac doing elaborate donuts in the parking lot, chances are you have spotted the semi-rare “Gearheadus Arcticus.”
Admittedly, most automotive obsessives do actually prefer the more temperate months, where it’s much easier to show off your five coats of high gloss acrylic and 37 lovingly hand-rubbed layers of carnauba (about which you may have lied to your significant other regarding cost. You know who you are …)
However, there’s also a sort of beauty to a massive rooster-tail of ice and snow splattering everything in a 50-foot radius, including that guy “walking” his dog. Of course, the true Gearhead doesn’t really NEED a layer of ice to get a good donut or rooster tail…it’s just easier on the tires and the local asphalt resurfacing crews aren’t looking to hire a hit man.
But getting back to my original point, which may or may not be up there somewhere, there are some folks, particularly missionary clients of Righteous Rides, who might be a little rusty when it comes to navigating portions of the highways and byways of our great land when there’s a layer of white stuff added to the mix.
Yes, Righteous Rides is a 365-day-a-year operation. (Well, not really. We give everybody the Sabbath off, like certain chicken retailers…) Not surprisingly, the busy period tends to center around Spring/Summer, when things are, well, “nice,” which is something missionaries are wont to do. Thus the whole purpose of Righteous Rides in the first place. But regardless of the weather, vans come in and vans go out, including during the “frosty” months. Not much of a change, except the detailing crews in the shop tend to weep a bit at the amount of junk they have to blast off of the body work. Current polling shows no clear leader in the “what’s worse?” debate: dead bugs and deer parts versus road salt and dried beet juice. Missionaries who regularly run their vans through the car wash while out and about get greeted with a holy kiss. (Well, not really. I think most of the guys in the shop have that whole beard/snot thing going on, regardless of the season. So be thankful for just a side hug…)
Anyway, here are a few handy reminders about winter driving:
Black Ice – If you ask a serious weather nerd (which we do NOT recommend) you will be told that the term “black Ice” is often used incorrectly to refer to just about any patch of ice on the roadway. As you may know, it’s not actually black, but transparent. It just often looks black because that’s the color of the road you were on until you hit said ice patch. Now you’re probably somewhere other than the road, not particularly concerned about the color palette. And there will be paperwork involved.
I believe the proper term is “Verglas,” which is apparently French for “ze slippery stuff which has placed you upon your derriere, to ze great amusement of ze populace.”
Whatever it’s called, just remember that it’s hard to see, hard to predict (although bridges and overpasses are likely hangouts), and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.
Physics is involved. You’re zipping along in a roughly 5,000-lb. brick. Your four tires (and some gravity) are putting in a full-day’s work keeping connected to the surface. You hit a patch of whatchamacallit that scoffs at things like “friction” and voted for “momentum” in the last election. It is strongly advised that you then assemble as many prayer warriors as you can find, because there’s a good chance things are about to get … interesting.
The Biblical reference here for those using this as a discussion starting point at the next home study group/frou-frou coffee get-together (Yes, I know. Unlikely.) would be Matthew 20:16. Particularly the part about the last being first and the first being last.
I don’t care how many super-spy action movies you’ve seen. When the vehicle you’re driving suddenly does a 180 and you’re looking at where you’ve been instead of at the immediate future, pithy bon-mots while adjusting your tuxedo cuffs may be hard to pull off. Shrieking like an ape getting an IRS audit is far more likely.
That’s really the first rule: Don’t Panic. Calmly assess the situation and take appropriate actions in a measured fashion. For the record, waving bye-bye to your life partner as you fling yourself out the driver’s side window is NOT one of the appropriate actions. (Chances are she’s already cutting up her embroidered Ruth 1:16 sweatshirt to make a bungee cord. Go ahead. Look it up. I’ll wait.)
Rule two: Counter Steer. More physics. Gently turn the steering wheel in the same direction that the rear of the vehicle is headed … whilst humming “Our God is an Awesome God” (or “Just As I Am,” if you’re old-school.) If you’ve, as I mentioned earlier, done a true 180 and the only direction the rear of the vehicle is headed is forward, then counter-steering is less important than prayer.
Don’t over-steer. That could lead to fish-tailing, which in more frigid climes is also known as “giving the folks on either side of me a reason to start praying too.” It has been speculated that the dedicated Gearheadus Articii (Plural form …) are really out there doing those donuts in the ice and snow for noble research purposes into the negative effects of over-steering … not because they may be raving lunatics with a strong desire to meet our Maker before the rest of us, but are too lazy to go skiing.
Rule three: Stay off the brakes. (Which I suspect is the motto several members of the Righteous Rides leadership team have tattooed upon their persons … but for entirely different reasons than our discussion here.) In our context, brakes on pavement = prudent. Brakes on ice? Bad.
If one is calm, collected, and experienced in low-friction situations, a light pumping of one’s brakes may be indicated. If one is like most of us, tromping maniacally on one’s brake pedal like a Heavy Metal drummer with diabetic neuropathy is far more likely. And definitely not recommended. Bad things will happen. It is preferable that the lovely Chrysler vehicle you’re motoring around the frozen tundra in remain more “mini-van” and less “hockey puck.”
But like any good hockey game, which also involves moving on ice, sometimes backward, and the occasional “discussion” regarding just who hit who first, we should probably take a break so everyone can run to the concession stand for more popcorn.
The second period, coming up shortly, eh.