Running into a Blizzard

When my partner and I were interviewing for our two jobs at NDSU, we asked a graduate-school friend from Minnetonka, Minnesota about the chances of us surviving up here on the northern plains; “you are moving to a cold, dark hole, but the people who live there are really nice.” Foreboding description, but we took the leap anyway. Since we moved, we have found he description apt for the most part, and have been learning to embrace life up here. We’ve picked up cross-country skiing, run through blizzards, and even built slide-distance into our driving calculations. Still, we have never been stranded in a car during a blizzard. Correction: we hadn’t been stranded in a car until December 30, 2010.

As you already know, we survived this seemingly-shocking event, and have emerged pretty much unscathed. Perhaps the weirdest part of being in a car that slides into a snow bank during the middle of a blizzard is the strange mundanity of it. What went through my head was really something more like a combination of confusion and of comfort. The bizarre juxtaposition between the almost-unimaginable slide of a 2-ton car on a dark, icy road and the almost cheerful camaraderie of three friends going into the unknown still jars my imagination. There was no question what was driving us—the chance to spend this belated birthday celebration eating incredible Korean food with an old friend (it was going to be two old friends, but one was quite sick at home) and two new friends was too much to pass up.

When the snow settled, and the requisite attempts to free the car using drive and reverse failed, my friend Dayna, my partner Miriam, and I looked at each other for answers. Luckily, both of the other people stuck in this absurd situation with me are can-do folks--within minutes, we were all out trying to push the car off of the snow berm and back onto the road. We hacked away at the snow with both hands and an ice scraper. Our gregarious driver asked a police officer to call a tow-truck (none of the 18 tow-truck services would come down as far south in Moorhead as we were), called her insurance company, and flagged down a fellow stranded motorist to help free us; Miriam and I took turns pushing, gunning the car, and digging. Ultimately, the combination of near-gale winds and ice-rink surface of the road forced us to call our dinner hosts to see if we could make a run for their apartment. After a few calls back and forth (what did we DO before cellphones?), we made a run for it, and was met by one of our hosts (a Texas native, but surprisingly adept running through the snow) about 1/4 mile from the car.

As you may suspect, we made it to the dinner (which was even better than I imagined). The food, conversation, and hospitality were amazing, especially considering the circumstances; still, I can’t help but think back about what my Lake Minnetonka friend told me. Most people think of place as something that gets characterized by its natives. Although Dayna is from here (and has been a delightful guide in discovering both basic and urbane aspects of the culture), our hosts are from South Korea and Houston. Miriam and I hail from Florida and Arizona. Despite (or maybe because of) our diversity, we were able to get to the dinner, have a great dinner, survive an impromptu sleepover, and get home. The combination of difficulties and friends to face them have only cemented my feeling that Fargo is now my home--a place where even the worst of circumstances can add to my love of place.


Perfie said...

Fun read, Andy ! FYI.. Ben grew up in Houston and spent only 2yrs in the bammie~ :)

Doc Mara said...

Thanks for the information, Jihye. I've made the change. I'm going to call Alabama, "bammie" from now on. ;)

I'm glad you like the post!

Sport said...

It was sad that we could not get the car out, but I was always just thankful that no-one was hurt, and that we had a warm place and yummy food to retire to.

Doc Mara said...

Me too, sport. I was thankful that we had the safety, food, and friends as well. I hope we can plan a little better, but I wouldn't change the company (except for the hope that Mazz can make it next time).