Roads of Death

It’s that time of year again. When the cold winds of The Wilds of Ohio bring all forms of dreaded precipitation…all usually in the same storm – – rain, freezing rain, sleet, snow, cats, dogs, locusts, etc. And, despite valiant efforts by road crews to clear them, the roads usually become festive playgrounds for cars to slip and slide about.

icy conga line of dents

icy conga line of dents

This also usually means the drivers here switch over to “Idiot Mode”. There are two main ways this manifests.

Most will start driving over-defensively… even if there is plenty of traction, this form of idiot driver will immediately slow to walking speed. And get in the left lane. And the center lane. And the right lane. Aggravating.

A few will continue driving as if nothing happened. If the speed limit is 65 miles per hour? That’s the speed they go. And they’ll weave in and out of traffic to keep going that fast.

The accidents start happening when the over-defensive driver meets the under-defensive driver. An over-defensive driving at walking speed will pull slowly into the left lane to pass an over-defensive who’s driving at crawling speed not noticing that under-defensive is ripping up behind him at 65 mph. under-defensive, unable to weave into the next lane because crawler is there, slams on the brakes. Wheeee!!!! And you thought the Ice Capades had lots of spins and turns.

Now, I do admit to occasionally letting myself slip into idiot mode. Primarily the under-defensive, go fast guy. But that’s not often. I’d LIKE to think I’m a good, defensive ice and snow driver. When I was learning to drive, I was also working at the local regional airport. Now, don’t tell anyone (shhhh), but I would sneak onto the snowy runway*, get up some speed, and purposely try and put the car out of control (braking hard, turning tightly, combinations, writing bad checks…). Then, I could see what did or didn’t work to get the car back into control. It was great practice. Especially since I wasn’t caught…

And, finally, a word about winter weather from a work perspective – – –

Trying to find the good in this, I began a tradition in our office some 10 years ago. I was, and continue to be, pleased to see new people coming into the office quickly embracing that tradition. Basically, whenever the snow started to fall, or even hint at some freezing rain in the weather reports, people will start proclaiming loudly about the office: “Roads of Death! A good supervisor who cared about his workers would send them home early!”

Some of the new kids have even embellished on this. Some are simplistic, but effective, addition of qualifiers: “Icy Roads of Death!”. Others are more elaborate, but equally effective: “Yeah, I heard that the human resource branch already sent all of their people home!” I have actually seen supervisors consider the latter, trying to decide whether to send people home safely, without checking to see if human resources really did send their people home. Great fun.

Unfortunately, rarely have I seen bosses actually send us home early. Rather, they wait until the roads ARE impassable, then make the magnanimous decision to send us home. At which time “Idiot Mode” clicks on in many heads and the roads leading away from the parking lots become parking lots themselves.

Me? I’ll have another cup of coffee and wait for the snow plows to clear a path.


*…okay, it was a smaller airport with not a lot of traffic on good days, let alone snowy days.


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11 Responses to “Roads of Death”

  1. silverstar98121 Says:

    Seattle drivers are always in idiot mode the moment a snowflake falls. Most of them are from climes where snow rarely falls, and so they are you overdefensive drivers. Others think 4-wheel drive and/or their experience in other snowy climes qualifies them to drive wherever and whenever they want, even past “street closed” signs. They forget that the rules change on steep hills, such as we have. It’s safer for everyone if people just stay home, which is why the city closes down with an inch of snow.

  2. Miss P Says:

    Ok so it was a smaller airport. I had visions of Bruce Willis for a moment there. Not that that’s ever a bad thing you understand, Bruce baby, being a hottie and all …. in SA we have advanced driving classes where you can learn to do all them fancy things like snatch yourself back from the jaws of death, accelerate over innocent bystanders etc. In fact the latter doesn’t need any training per se, seems to come as second nature to our taxis and the President’s motorcade. And I couldn’t picture you as anything other than the under-defensive fast guy if I tried. Idiot now, not so sure *tease* *hee hee*

  3. daisyfae Says:

    i’m always amused by people speeding by in the 4 wheel drive vehicles – not realizing that 4 wheel drive doesn’t help you stop, it just helps you ‘go’. it would bring joy to later happen upon them in a ditch… but alas, highway karma fails me…

  4. Stephanie of Stopbouncing Says:


    IT’S A FLURRY!!!!!

  5. The Unbearable Banishment Says:

    I just escaped from a family visit to the Buckeye State and I can attest to how hazardous the driving has been of late. My recommendation: Get yourself a mighty Subaru Outback. My baby cut through even the most perilous stretches of I-90.

  6. anniegirl1138 Says:

    My school district had mastered the art of waiting until the absolute last possible minute to let school out or call it off. I’ve driven both to and from on roads that no sane person would attempt.

    But what choice do we have anymore? The Great Economy must be served and mayhem, destruction or death are just the graduating scale of payment.

  7. kyknoord Says:

    Darwin would be so proud.

  8. thegnukid Says:

    silverstar – it’s somehow oddly comforting to know we don’t have a monopoly on driving idiots in Ohio. but closing down an entire city for an inch of snow? what do you do if it REALLY snows?

    Miss P – so, are these like James Bond Driving Schools where they teach you to sneak into parking spots at full speed, reverse direction at full speed, that type of thing? cool…

    daisyfae – schadenfreude…i look for that to happen as well. and [wicked grin] sometimes it is…

    stephanie – yep, exactly. not like the brave souls up your way who wait until it’s at least a foot deep before deciding if just maybe you should put on a coat.

    t.u.b. – yeah, much worse up in the northern tier of Ohiah… the little Honda does well enough for me. it’s just the other idiots who are bothersome.

    anniegirl – “…I’ve driven both to and from on roads that no sane person would attempt…” so, you’re saying you are, indeed, insane. good data point, annie… [playful grin]

    kyknoord – unfortunately, they don’t end up taking themselves out of the gene pool. just create havoc and improve the economy at the auto repair shops.

  9. Kym Says:

    I hate driving in snow but I enjoyed this post and the reminder that at least I don’t live where snow happens more than a couple times a year.

  10. leavingevangeline Says:

    I am fortunate to work for a company that sends us home at the mere rumor of frozen precipitation. We also close for heavy thunderstorms…and, well, we sometimes close because it’s just too damn nice outside to be working! Margaritas on a patio anyone?

    I love my job.

    Oh, and here in my lovely city, we don’t get snow on the roads…only sheets of black ice. And…the city is never really prepared b/c predicting the weather here is a crap shoot…so there is usually an 18 wheeler jack-knifed on one of the many, many, many overpasses…causing a 4 hour back-up. It’s awesome. Especially, since I’m not required to work on days like that.

  11. thegnukid Says:

    kym – thanks, dear. so, enjoy those times you do get some snow and think of us poor peons here in the frigid midwest.

    evangeline – i remember san antonio closing once for ice (when i was there many years ago). i’m all for that idea of Margaritas!

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