Southerners and Icy Driving Conditions

snow and ice
snow on the coast
Photos courtesy of my in-laws, across from the Outer Banks. Their snow was much more photogenic than our ice.

I cracked up yesterday reading the Facebook and Twitter comments about Southerners and their driving skills (or lack thereof) in the icy weather. Charlotte had quite a bit of sleet on and off all day yesterday and people had plenty to say about it.

Lucky me, I only had one place to go.  I had two hours left that I needed to put in at my part time job — you know the one that used to be my full time job, that I quit, but never really left?  Yes, that one.

I myself did not encounter any bad road conditions in the mile I drove to and from work, but there were a lot of complaining going on from social media users who I hope were not driving while updating their Facebook and Twitter status. I mean, telling Southerners not to slam on the brakes when driving across ice while tweeting about it, is kind of like calling the kettle black, you pot. But maybe they did this after they arrived safely to their destination.

As a born and raised southerner, I feel the need to come to the defense of my fellow southerners.  People are often not good at things that they never practice. If you played the piano once a year, maybe twice at the most with no instruction, would you be a very good piano player?  Probably not. And it is the same with southerners and icy driving conditions.

I myself wrecked my very first car during a snow “storm” (i.e. any amount of snow south of the Mason Dixon that isn’t on a mountain top).  I was 16 years old.  I had my license for less than a year.  I had never ever driven in snow or ice and I had no idea what I was doing.  The snow started and I called my dad from my mall job to tell him that they were letting us leave early (because of the impending blizzard) and I wanted his advice and secretly hoped he would just come pick me up.

If I’m remembering correctly, he and my mom were at a church Sunday School party and left me to my own devices with the advice to drive slowly.  And drive slowly I did.  I was going under 10 mph when my car skidded on ice, spun clockwise very very slowly, and hit a truck that was parked in the middle of the road pulling another car out of a ditch with a chain. My car spun so that the back bumper of the truck hit just behind my driver’s side door.  Then my newly painted (which I paid for myself) 10 year old Ford Probe careened, ever so slowly into a ditch.

It felt like slow motion.  Let’s face it.  I was driving so slowly, it was slow motion.

There were tears and yelling when my parents arrived.  Someone (I’m not saying who) yelled at me and they got yelled at for yelling at me.  My family doesn’t overreact.  No, we never do that.

And four years later when it snowed (like really snowed) four times during my junior year of college, I finally learned how to drive in the snow for fear of running out of food in my apartment (I had a craving for sloppy joes that couldn’t be quenched).  So if I’m the typical southerner, I’m proof that given the opportunity to practice, we can learn to drive in the snow or ice.

So go easy on us, you Northerners with your icy driving skills.  Remember, you moved down here for a reason. In exchange for our fabulous weather, you get to deal with us when the weather isn’t quite so fabulous and in my opinion, it’s a tradeoff in your favor.

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