Toronto got its first snowstorm of the season on Saturday. I drove through the early throes of it while heading downtown early that morning to visit two possible wedding venues.
Did I mention The Russian Princess is getting married??? GAH! How did I forget to tell you??
Well, not only is she getting married, but… wait for it… she has asked me to be her ‘person’ at the wedding. I guess technically it’s Maid/Matron of Honour, but given that she is not your average bride, and this is not your average wedding, we can’t get too stuck on technicalities.
For instance, technically she should be the Bridezilla. And she is decidedly not.
So, since it has been 26 years since I’ve planned a wedding, and the term had not yet been invented, I will assume that duty on her behalf.
I am her person, after all. 😉
The RP lives in Denver these days, but her wedding will be here in Toronto, in September. So I’m helping to be her local eyes/ears/feet-on-the-street.
Job one was to meet up with the wedding planner and RP’s parents bright and early Saturday morning to have a walk-through of two venues. We fell in love with one, voted, and the decision was made.
All while the RP was still at home in Denver, in her PJs, enjoying a morning coffee.
We were glad she agreed with our decision. 🙂
I made my way back home just as the wind was starting to pick up, causing snow squalls which further reduced visibility.
It would have been the perfect day to just turn on the fireplace and chill at home, watching the pretty snowfall from the safety of my home.
Sadly I had another errand to run about an hour later. This one would take me about 40 minutes west of Toronto, to a town called Oakville. I live approx. 30 minutes east of downtown.
My planned hour’ish drive took nearly 2 hours.
The snow was really coming down at this point, and it seemed to get worse the farther I drove west. The roads were very slick, and visibility was dicey.
I passed four separate accidents along the way, and found one car facing me as I took the ramp from one highway to another. Luckily the wrong-way car was on the shoulder and not in the main lane of the off ramp. But still. WTF?
All I kept thinking as I drove by was, how are you going to fix that?
The thing that makes me angriest about these accidents, in-the-ditch cars and skidded-out-facing-wrong-way situations is that they probably could have been avoided.
People who don’t adjust their speed or vigilance during deteriorated road conditions are just idiots. Plain and simple.
And don’t get me started on those who decide that snapping a picture of the scene, while driving through it, is a good idea.
In fairness, the picture above may have been shot by the passenger, not the driver. And I’m hoping that was the case.
While I’m ranting, do you every notice how, more often than not, it’s a big ol’ SUV that’s turned around or in the ditch. I think they genuinely believe that they are invincible in those giant monster trucks. Buddy, unless you’ve got all-wheel drive, your big-ass (likely rear-wheel drive) vehicle probably doesn’t handle nearly as well as my smaller, front-wheel drive.
Yes, that was me waving at you as I drove by. You may have noticed me. I’m the one who managed to stay on the road, and in my lane.
I’m a big advocate of defensive driving. You kind of have to be if you’re going to live in a place where winter starts in November and can last through March.
As a life-long Torontonian, the absolute best advice I can offer is this: avoid using your breaks.
The breaks will be your undoing every single time. Please trust me on this.
Be super conscious of everything around you, including what’s going on behind you. (Sidenote: Have you ever noticed how many people never, ever check their rear view mirror???) But most of all, exercise control over your gas pedal.
I hit a bit of a slippery patch after I exited the highway in Oakville. My car fish-tailed for about half a second. Yes, my heart raced for a moment, but I breathed deeply, eased my foot off the gas, kept my eyes on the road ahead, and steered gently. The car corrected itself virtually immediately.
Note to self: Try to maintain this type of calm centered-ness through all life’s challenges, not just those on the road.
I’m happy to report that I made it to and from Oakville in one piece, and accident-free.
Once I was settled back home for the night, I realized that there were some interesting parallels to be drawn between driving in hazardous conditions and navigating through life’s challenging moments.
- Bigger isn’t always better. Don’t get cocky. Driving around in a vehicle that’s the size of small apartment doesn’t mean you get to speed during a snowstorm. Similarly, even those who seem to have ‘it all’ can suddenly fall from grace. Be humble. Be gracious. Don’t get too big for your britches. When the mighty fall, they make an awfully big thud.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Anticipate how others’ circumstances may impact your own. Are you prepared to respond to changes in your environment?
- Be present. Stay focused. Multi-tasking may work sometimes, but not when you’re driving in a snowstorm, or trying to manage a big life problem. Give the situation the respect it deserves.
- Take unexpected obstacles in stride. Whether it’s a patch of black ice or some horrible event in your personal life, knee-jerk reactions are sure to backfire on you. Breathe. Stay as calm as you can. Adjust to the obstacle until you’ve righted yourself.
- This too shall pass. Know that no matter how bad the current circumstance is, eventually the calm will be restored.
Stay safe out there, friends.
And don’t forget to …Get moving!
- Lessons Learned in a Kitchen Disaster (myyearofsweat.wordpress.com)