[record scratch, freeze frame]
Narrator: Now, I suppose you’re wondering how I ended up here…
Okay, how was I supposed to know that it snows in New Mexico? I think that is probably America’s best kept secret. Anyway, I woke up to that familiar cold feeling in Madrid and looked out my window. Just as I’d suspected: We’d gotten a few inches of snow overnight. Having a couple hours of driving ahead of me for the day, I wanted to get an early start. By 8:00AM, I was making my way out the door and hopping into the snow bank that my car had become.
Flicking through the radio stations, all I could hear was, “Terrible weather—the snow overnight—taking it slow—plows are busy—late to work,” oh my god, just play some music, we get it. I practically had the streets to myself besides a few stray travelers. Despite the commotion, the roads really weren’t that bad, or maybe that’s just the Wisconsin in me thinking it’s the lesser of two evils. Even so, I was taking it slow just in case. However, this whole taking it slow thing ended up being my greatest downfall.
To set the scene for you, I would like you to think of New Mexico as a Colorado-Wanna-Be, still full of mountains and curves and steep falls, but the desert edition. With a southern state like this not getting snow as often as us Wisconsinites, they didn’t exactly have an A Team out plowing the roads for life to continue. Actually, they’d basically left the state in a frigid chaos. Coasting up the hill, my tires began to spin as the TRAC OFF light began a disco-party-for-one on my dashboard.
Well, that’s not good.
I didn’t want to give it too much gas, as losing control of my steering on that corner would actually be the end of Raven Patzke as we know it. However, I noticed the other side of the road had dirt tracks from someone who must have driven through earlier that morning. If I could just sneak onto the other side for long enough in order to get a bit of traction, I would be able to get over the hill and out of this mess. This maneuver would not be without risk, however, as I was unable to see any cars coming down around the curve, and by the time they’d see me, it would have been way too late for them to stop us from colliding on the icy bend.
“Okay, let’s do this.”
Spinning my wheel to the left, I gave it a bit of gas, setting myself up in position on the dirt tracks across the road. My tires creeped slowly but surely up the mountainside, until they got bored and decided to try a new route. Now, with incorrect track lines heading straight for the lines of ice, it was impossible to get up any further, despite how much gas I tried to give the car…which was allegedly too much, as my battery light and then my engine light decided to join the disco party.
It was time for a new game plan. I was going to have to coast backward down the hill and see if there was an alternative route that I could take to get around this hurdle. As I started moving in reverse, I could no longer feel the strength of the brakes beneath my feet. They’d locked up and I was sliding faster and faster backward down the hill, getting closer and closer to the cliff’s edge. Letting out a bloodcurdling scream that I thought was going to be my last, I crammed my gears into park, which, to my surprise stopped the whole fiasco. Unraveling the wince on my face, I looked around. No one was in sight. However, if anyone was to come around the hill, they’d be greeted by me, chilling on the center line. Nice. Really nice.
With a sharp inhale, I switched my gears back into the offensive mode, and somehow swiveled my way to the side, now allowing a passageway for any other travelers to make it through the seventh circle that had become Madrid.
Sure, I was safe, but I was still stuck. Grabbing my purse, I pulled out my trusty AAA card and began to dial.
No service. Call ended.
I looked up at the sky, “Seriously?!”
I tried again. And again. And again. Until, FINALLY, Cellcom granted me a lifeline: One bar of service.
“Hello, this is AAA, are you in a safe place?”
“I mean, not really, but…”
“Okay, where are you?”
“I don’t really know, I’m on some hill in New Mexico and—“
“Hold up, did you say New Mexico? Let me transfer you.”
*****10 minutes later*****
“Okay, we recommend towing the vehicle to Santa Fe [an hour away]….”
The hotline buzzed on about probably important information, but my attention had been averted. Coming down the hill was a big white pickup truck, headed straight for my vehicle. Closing my eyes, I was startled by the sound of a man’s voice.
“What happened mamacita? Do you have straps? I can tow you.”
No offense, but do I look like someone who would carry trucker equipment with me? The man got out of his pickup and circled around the back, holding up a rope that could have doubled as floss.
“I can try with this!”
“Ahhh no, that’s okay, really, you don’t have to do that….” I said praying that he wouldn’t just go ahead and do that anyway.
“Okay, okay. Sorry mama, good luck,” he said, patting my side mirror as he hopped back into his 4-Wheel-Drive-White-Carriage.
After receiving a faulty link for the Tow Truck’s ETA, waiting ages for slivers of cell service to create a new account and log in online, I saw the glorious words: ETA: 9:10AM. At this point, it was already 9:08AM, so I squinted out of my windows, knowing my knight in shining armor was to arrive any minute.
9:10 came, and then 9:20, and then 9:30….By this time not only were all of the lights still flashing, but the heat went out as well as the radio, so I’d resorted to shutting the vehicle off.
Did I give them the wrong directions or something? I know I didn’t give them an exact address per se, but what if they can’t find me?
After battling the Cellcom service gods once again, I was greeted by a woman who granted me the terrible knowledge of the driver’s actual ETA.
“THREE HOURS?! I AM GOING TO DIE OUT HERE. I AM SO COLD. AND I AM ALONE. AND I AM ON A CLIFF IN THE MIDDLE OF—“
“Ma’am, please hold.”
And then I saw it, a glimmer of hope: The twinkling lights of the tow truck coming around the side of the mountain. However, as it got closer, I realized it was no tow truck, it was the snow plow.
GOOD TIMING. THANKS. COULD’VE USED YOU EARLIER.
Now, having the other side of the road clearly paved, it would be a breeze to make it over, that is if my car wasn’t shot from trying before. I looked down at the steering wheel, took a deep breath, and tried starting the car up one last time.
“-so make sure you drive slow down those roads on your way to work,” the radio nagged on.
The dashboard, now a clean slate, dared me to keep on pushing my luck.
“All right, here we go.”
Shifting the gear into drive, I crept over to the plowed side of the road, and faced the hill once again. Passing the ice tracks from earlier, and then another bend, and finally reaching the top of the hill, I gasped with disbelief.
However, I still had to face the chaos I’d created.
“Um….ma’am? Ma’am? Yeah, hi…you can um…just cancel the call…yeah, thank you,” I claimed in the smallest voice ever, as not five minutes before I’d told her I was going to die out here alone. My bad.
Continuing my journey south, I looked over to my right at the first crossroad over the hill, ironically named Raven Court. I suppose getting stranded in New Mexico was all part of the plan then, huh?