I spent Monday morning getting to know my street. I already knew I had to dig out my car, because I didn’t elect the particular snow bank it stopped astride the night before. After clearing out what I could see, I played the forward-reverse-forward-reverse game until it lurched diagonally into the middle of the road, where it was snow-seized again. I spun in place for five minutes before I remembered seeing my roommate escape from a similar bind. I got out, grabbed the floor mats from the back seat, wedged them under my tires, and crawled free. I felt pretty cool.
Our road’s L-shaped. I got rolling down the long arm without much trouble, and made the elbow without drifting into any mailboxes or parked cars. The end was in sight. I gunned it up what looked to me like an incline about as threatening as what you might find on, say, the eighth hole of a miniature golf course, though it may as well have been a mountainside. I lost all traction and rolled back down. I backed up and tried again. And again. In my rearview mirror, I saw a man in a dark blue snowsuit shoveling the sidewalk back near the crook in the street. I didn’t want him to come help. I decided I would flash my native-son status by performing my now-trusty floor mat trick as if I had been doing it, successfully, for all my years. I stopped at the highest point on the hill I could, tucked the rubber mats in front of my wheels, and proceeded to melt their edges with impotent tire-spinning.
My best bet, I thought, was to turn around and try to make it out at the other end of the street. I backed up past several houses and swung into one whose driveway seemed relatively clear. I shifted into drive and didn’t go anywhere. I stepped on the gas and didn’t go anywhere. I looked out the passenger window at the blue-suited man shoveling, looked away, and revved stubbornly.
The garage door behind me started opening and a neighbor walked out. I rolled down my window. “I’ve got some cardboard we can put under your tires, and then maybe I can get this guy to come help me push you out,” she said. I resisted the urge to endorse my floor mats.
We tore up a box and lined the ground with it. She called over to the shoveler. He had a fur hat and his beard was frosted over. “Is no good day for driving, ah?” he said, as if he came from a place in Northern Europe that looked about like this in mid-summer. I got back in the car.
Before I hit the gas, a little girl, bundled in pink, skipped out of the house. The three of them lined the bumper in my mirror. I started rocking the car forward, and they leaned in rhythm. When I caught the ground, I didn’t stop until I made it off our street. I raised my hand high out the window and didn’t look back.
David Greendonner (’12) is an MFA candidate at Western Michigan University where he teaches writing and is the managing editor of the literary magazine Third Coast.