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Story ID:1730
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Diary/Journal Entry
Location:Gilboa New York USA
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By Fred Wickert

Wow! What a day this has been. I was in a rush, because I had been ordered to a training class in Niskayuna, about fifty-eight miles away from home. We had a mix of rain, snow and ice during the night and everything was coated with the mixture, roads included. I better allow plenty of time for my trip.

Shortly before it was time to leave, I was sitting in the living room watching TV news on road conditions and checking the school closing announcements. The state school I had to attend was not mentioned in the closing list.

Suddenly there was a loud crash coming from the bird room downstairs. Tae jumped up and ran downstairs to determine the cause of the noise. The bird room has a dropped ceiling equipped with fluorescent lights, covered by a pebble grained clear plastic insert. One of the plastic inserts had fallen out on the floor and shattered. Water was coming down from upstairs all over the floor.

Meantime, I learned there was water coming out from behind the commode in the upstairs bathroom, all over the floor in the adjacent laundry closet, and out from the bottom of the washing machine. It didn’t take long to figure out what had happened.

The drainpipe for the washing machine is in the wall partition between the laundry closet and the bathroom. Tae had been washing Toby’s bed. When the rinse cycle completed and the water was pumped out of the washer, the water filled the plugged pipe and overflowed in the wall between the two rooms. The water in both rooms was coming from that. Then it was leaking down around the water pipes in the laundry room on top of the light panel downstairs, which gave way from the weight of the water.

I had no time to fix it before leaving for Niskayuna. I told Tae she was not to try to use the washing machine and I had to wait until this evening to work on it. Then I left her to clean up the mess.

I began my trip on mountain, ice-encrusted roads. I had expected them to be in better shape than they were and it was necessary to drive at reduced speeds. On a winding downhill stretch of road, I met a snowplow going the opposite direction. The snowplow was throwing up a big spray of mixed snow and ice and just as we met, a powerful gust of wind blew the spray across the road in a white cloud.

I was unable to see anything but white and I slammed on my brakes. The rear of my truck fishtailed to my right. Fortunately it recovered and straightened out without difficulty, but I thought ABS brakes were supposed to prevent that sort of thing.

Later I got down into the valley on a flat stretch of road. I came up behind a slow moving truck with a monster sized dumpster on it, which was throwing up spray all over the front of my truck, including the windshield. I had to drop back a quarter of a mile to avoid the spray.

The radio reported that limited access highways were wet but bare and traffic was moving normally. A good portion of my trip was to be on I-88 and I was looking forward to better driving conditions. When I reached the down ramp to enter I-88, the ramp was a mess, and a Wall-Mart tractor-trailer was broken down right in the entrance ramp. I managed to get around him and on to the interstate. The far left lane was bare and wet. The other two lanes were covered with the icy mixture so I moved over to the far left lane.

Immediately after getting on I-88 on the long hill, a big dump truck pulling a dump trailer behind it was crawling up that hill. The trailer was also hurling a cloud of spray behind it. Just as I passed it, visibility was decreased due to the spray on my windshield from the trailer. As I passed with the reduced visibility I failed to see the road in front of me had changed to black ice. Fortunately it caused me no trouble and I slowed down as quickly as I could. I was on the East bound side. As I neared the top of the hill, just before the overpass on the West bound side there were flashing lights. There another Wall-Mart truck parked on the shoulder with an ambulance/rescue vehicle parked in front of him and a state police car parked behind him, both vehicles with red lights flashing. I concluded that Wall-Mart truck drivers were having a bad day.

After driving on the left lane for a couple of miles on wet bare road, the road suddenly changed to one covered in a slippery glaze and I had to slow down considerably. The center lane then seemed to be a little better than the other two so I moved to the right. Suddenly a young woman with her nose up in the air, hair tied in some kind of ponytail that flared out into a mop head looking arrangement went flying past me at high speed. I expected to see her go flying through the air any second, but she never did.

Arriving in Rotterdam after leaving the interstate, I found the streets in better shape. As I turned left off from Route #7 with a green arrow on the traffic light, I was almost broad sided by a truck that had jumped the light. The street was not in as good shape as Route #7 had been, and I had to wait for a freight train to cross. I was beginning to worry that I was going to be late.

The train finally passed and traffic began moving. All was well to I-890 and then to Central Avenue. As I left Central Avenue up Balltown Road to O.D. Heck for my training class, I was unable to see the road because of snow banks too high on the side of the street, causing me to go past it. I had to turn around and go back.

I found a parking spot more easily than usual and entered the building, went through the atrium and up the stairs on the other side. They are concrete stairs and had not been shoveled nor had they been salted. Muttering under my breath about the failure of the state to perform satisfactory maintenance, I reached the top of the stairs and entered the building containing the training rooms.

In the lobby, I observed something new since my last visit. There was an electronic sign announcing the classes with times and room numbers. My class was not entered on the sign. I asked someone and was directed to the right room. I made it on time – barely.

The instructor was a jovial fellow who knew me from previous years, welcomed me by name and shook my hand. I found a comfortable chair and enjoyed the training class. When the class was over, I discovered an elevator that eliminated the need for the treacherous stairway. I made it to my pickup truck and went on my way.

I drove to Colonie to my favorite Chinese buffet, parked and entered the restaurant. I was a little early but was seated and after being greeted by two of the girls my wife and I have befriended over the last couple of years, got my food and sat down to eat. Soon after I began to eat, a hostess approached me apologetically and asked me to move my truck for snow plowing of the parking lot.

I moved my truck and returned to my seat in the restaurant. Shortly before I finished my meal, the two waitresses came over to the table and informed me that they had paid for my meal and I was not getting a bill. They told me it was because I was always so nice to them. I was astonished, but greatly pleased. Then, as I left a tip they protested and I told them since they paid for my meal; the least I could do was leave them a tip.

After leaving the restaurant I went to a tool store and purchased a snake to use on the plugged up pipe when I got home. The trip home was much better than the one going in. The roads had been cleared, the sun was out and a strong wind blowing which dried the pavement. When I tried the snake, it removed the blockage rather easily and it turned out a pretty nice day after all.

First photo - Tae in the birdroom with Barbara. Note the light panels in the ceiling.

Second photo - Toby sitting in the bed that was in the washing machine at the time.

Third photo - the ice and snow mixture clinging to the trees.

Fourth photo - The two girls who graciously paid for my meal.

Last photo - the improved road conditions on the way home.