Wednesday, January 9, 2008

STS: The Emergency Traction Kit

This is the first(and maybe the last) of the Sean Tells Stories series. Enjoy(or don't, what the fuck do I care).

During my high school years I did my fair share of stupid shit. This is one of those times.

It was wintertime during my senior year in high school and I was returning home from my job at the video store in the very early AM. I turned off the highway into my neighborhood to find glare ice everywhere, as in a perfectly smooth, mirror like surface. So there I was, my house 50 yards to my right and ahead of me, 1/4 mile of deserted, super wide, kick ass ice. I figured what could it hurt to make one quick pass? There I went power sliding the '84 Vanagon like a mad man, a couple perfect cookies at the end of the block, one more time and I was ready to go home. On the return trip I lost it, the van was oriented a perfect 90 degrees to the direction of travel moving at 20 miles per hour. Turned into the skid, nothing. Out of the skid, nothing. After a hundred yards or so I finally stopped and let the van roll forward into the curb. I took a second to realize nothing had happened and I was completely in the clear.

Now it was surely time to go home. I put the van in reverse, let out the clutch, and went nowhere. The slight camber in the road was enough to overcome the studded snow tires and wouldn't let me get anywhere. I even let the clutch out without gas and could walk around the van while it spun it's tires at idle. I started to consider my options: I could walk home, wake up dad, and get some help(oh, hell no). I could walk home, go into the garage, get the chains, and risk waking my dad(worse than waking him intentionally). The last option and the only viable one as far as I was concerned was to stay at the van and figure it out.

So there I am, standing at the back of the van, staring at the rear tires(and my feet) when I had an idea. I was wearing sandals and some very nice thick green socks. So I stripped off my socks and stuffed them behind the tires hoping to buy some traction. When I tried to move I watched socks go flying off in front of the still stuck van, no such luck. Not ready to give up I started looking around for what else I had that might help me out when I saw my bottle of Gatorade on the floorboard. I collected my socks and put them back in position and soaked them in the drink. After a couple of minutes they were nice and frozen and just enough to get me rolling. I got back a couple feet, rolled forward bounced off the curb and made it all the way to the middle of the street. I jumped out, peeled up my socks, and drove home. Once there I disposed of my socks properly(or so I thought) and went to bed.

I moved to Denver the following August and sometime before coming back to Spokane for Christmas I recounted the story to my mother on the condition that my father never find out. Of course she remembered the incident from the vantage point of finding my damaged socks in the recycle bin the next day and interrogating me about it. I don't recall that part of it but I was reported to be less than forthcoming with any sort of explanation.

This is what was what was waiting for me under the Christmas tree that year from my dear old dad.

And that's when I learned never to trust my mother.

1 comment:

Old Fat & Slow said...

The Emergency Traction Kit was one of the great "Gotcha's" in the history of the Armstrong family, sure to live on for generations and certainly improve with age.

It should be considered as a trophy and tribute for a very clever solution to an intractable problem under dire circumstances.