12 March, 2013

"You'll pay for this, Richard Bucket!"

I've always secretly wanted to burn rubber, only not on my own driveway. But last tuesday, when we got pummeled by a snow storm, burning rubber was exactly what I ended up doing.

You see, our driveway is sloped. It's about two car lengths – if you want to block the sidewalk – and the angle is a bit steep. It also has a "not-so-sweet" middle spot: stop below or above it and the car moves forward when you hit the gas, stop right on it and the only direction your vehicle's moving is backward. My SUV weighs two tons and has AWD and even she rolls back. My husband drives a Scion Tc with rear wheel drive and wheels that are 90% aluminum and only 10% rubber. The "cool" racing ones, even though they're supposed to be all-weather. Not to mention the car has no clearance. Starting to get the picture?

Last tuesday was a school snow day. I declared snow day for piano lesson as well and Danny and I spent the entire day indoors in our pjs. I watched our driveway rapidly disappear under the snow and become one with the street and the lawn. When Terry finally slid home that evening, he barely found it. He stopped with the front wheels right at the bottom of the "sweet"spot.

The plan was to shovel and then pull the Scion into the garage. I looked out at his handywork one time – he was moving with some ease, the snow in front of the car was completely gone. I was upstairs puttering around, when I heard him stop downstairs and call up: "Kate, get dressed and come out. You have to help me push the car!"

I guess we've been living together too long because the first thing that popped into my head, as I was throwing on snow boots and a coat over my pjs, was an episode of Keeping Up Appearances. Quoting movie lines in a time of crisis is usually Terry's territory. But all I could think of was Hyacinth in a large hat, white gloves, and still holding her purse, preparing to push their little blue car out of a muddy ditch on the way to QE2 cruise. As I came out of the house, I shook my fist in the air and yelled: "You'll pay for this, RIchard Bucket!" in an attempt to lighten the mood.

First I was the driver. I popped the car into the lowest gear, grabbed the steering wheel as tight as I could and gently touched the gas. Terry pushed. I felt the back ease a little bit, but the front was doing a reverse fishtail. And I wasn't even steering! Terry yelled "hit the gas!", I did. Front wheels spun, smoke came out, the front first slid to the left then to the right. Car progressed only two inches forward. I realized that I'm either going to hit my car (not an option) or the house (also not an option because we have new siding). I opted for the pile of snow on the right before switching jobs with Terry. If someone's hitting something valuable, I'd rather that someone be him. And so he steered and I pushed and watched the front wheels spin and smoke and fishtail, the smell of burned rubber soon filling the air. The tires permanently burned a serpentine pattern into the surface of our driveway. Our next door neighbors stopped their snowblowing and watched the show. Finally the front gripped and the car lurched into the safety of the garage. When I got inside the house, I looked down at my now-ruined leather gloves whose color coordinated with the interior of my car, and said to myself: "You'll pay for this, Richard Bucket!"

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