Yesterday I almost died. Not in a “life flashing before me” kind of way – but in a cold, painful, this-blizzard-totally-sucks kind of way. I got stuck in the Snowpocalypse.
You know, the Snowpocalypse—the weekend storm that’s currently blanketing the East Coast. I spent Christmas in Philadelphia, DJing an annual Christmas night party. Yesterday morning when we woke up, my friends and I decided that we would try and beat the impending blizzard and make our way home to New York. Only we didn’t beat the blizzard. We drove right into it. My friend Shane picked up Abby, Heidi and me in his beat-up Toyota Corolla and we set off toward the New Jersey Turnpike. The snow was coming down hard, but we imagined that as soon as we got on the turnpike—the main thoroughfare from south to north Jersey—we’d be fine. I mean, they must have salted and plowed the roads, right? Wrong.
The trip from Philly to New York normally takes two hours. What followed was a five-hour long, painstakingly slow crawling drive along the turnpike. The snow was coming down so fast and hard that drivers had stopped on the side of the road to scrape the ice and snow off their windshields. Cars had driven off into embankments. Visibility was practically nil. We were scared, cold and tired–and we didn’t have a working radio in the car, so we had no idea how terrible it was up ahead.
We stopped at a rest stop and picked up coffee and water and contemplated waiting the storm out from the safe enclave of the roadside Roy Rogers. Instead, we kept going.
After hours and hours on the turnpike, we pulled off onto our exit—the exit it that would take us over the Goethals Bridge and the Verrazano Bridge and back to Brooklyn. The bridges were totally backed up and we crawled along for hours. The worst part? The Verrazano had completely iced over, and as Shane attempted to drive our tiny car—with only front-wheel drive—over the bridge, we nearly ran into dozens of other cars that had spun out.
By now, ice had started forming on the inside of the car—did I mention that Shane’s car’s heating system had been stolen, and so we were relying solely on the defroster to keep us warm? We kept reminding ourselves of what was waiting on the other end: A warm meal, cuddling up on the couch, feeling dry. Our reality was we were cold, wet and we all really, really had to pee. We contemplated the physical difficulties of pissing into a Starbucks cup without making a mess.
It was now 7:30 at night. We had left Philadelphia at 3pm. We approached the final leg of our journey: the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. We made it onto the expressway and immediately hit traffic. Cars were at a standstill. We weighed our options—stay indefinitely in an endless stream of cars on the highway, or take our chances trying to navigate through Brooklyn side streets. We chose the side streets. We made the wrong decision.
We attempted to turn the car onto a Brooklyn street and got stuck. Like, get out of the car and push stuck. After 15 minutes, a hulking SUV came behind us and towed us out of our spot. We decided if we were going to be stuck, we’d rather be stuck with other people, rather than stuck on a desolate Brooklyn road. So we pushed the car up the incline onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway again and totally freaked out. There was absolutely no one on the road. Half a mile back, there was wall to wall traffic, but somehow, by getting off and back on the highway, we had missed the traffic pile up. We were now the ONLY car on the road. I thought we had died.
I really thought that somehow, we had died, and the BQE had become some kind of metaphorical “white light” into the other side. This is a road that’s normally a busy major thoroughfare. After six hours battling blizzards, traffic and imminent disaster, it was more than I could take. I started laughing hysterically. We could have stopped the car and walked on the BQE. Or—as was actually on our minds—peed on the BQE.
We eventually made it off our exit—and that was when one of Shane’s windshield wipers gave out. He got us home by driving with his head out the window. It was very “Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome.” Eight hours and countless near-crashes and stalled cars, we pushed the car into a parking spot and ran–RAN—to the safety of our apartment, where we promptly ate, like, three pounds of spaghetti each.
It could have been worse. We could have been stranded on a subway train overnight with hundreds of other hungry and angry passengers. We could have abandoned our car and tried to get home on the totally inoperable subways. What matters is that we made it. And now we’re bonded for life.
Tell us: Were you stuck in this weekend’s weather? Have you ever had a near-death experience?