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#snOMG: Overcoming My Fear of the Seattle Snowpocalypse

It’s snowing right now in Seattle. And it’s kind of a big deal. You see, all we need are a few inches and it shuts down the city. Call us whatever you’d like, but we just don’t have the infrastructure to deal with clearing roads and keeping all those hills clear. Plus, in most cases it only snows for a few hours, accumulates just over an inch, then warms out and turns to rain. And all of our fears are gone, but at least we got some time off of school and work.

We’ve received bad press about this, which I understand. There are a lot of good things that we’re good at here in the Pacific Northwest, but we dealing with snow like you crazy kids in Boulder and Chicago can. It’s just not a weakness we want to improve on.

It’s such a big deal that we embrace the hashtag, #snOMG, because that’s pretty appropriate with how Seattleites are feeling right now (whether they care to admit it or not).

Myself included. Yes, I am an active member of #snOMG.

Staring #snOMG in the face

Tonight, after barely making it home from the gym, John decided it’d be the opportune time to teach me how to drive in the snow. Uh huh.

As we crawl up our street, I’m on pins and needles, with my heart racing, hyperventilating, the works. I’m already in a fragile place: at the gym, I had a long talk with my coach about how much my arm is hurting from when I injured it during a workout over the summer. The hurt has evolved and is affecting my life outside of the gym. I can’t eat with chopsticks throughout an entire meal, it’s that bad.

So picture fragile Laura in the passenger seat of her brother-in-law’s almost-collector-status, rear-wheel drive, 1983 Mazda RX-7 with her husband at the wheel explaining the benefit of learning how to drive in the snow—something she’s afraid of and is not in the mental state to face right now at all.

We crawled up the street and a few blocks over to an abandoned parking lot. I regulated my breathing. The lot was without cars, speed bumps, and very few streetlights. John drove first, demonstrating and talking me through how to use the gas to regulate the direction that you’re going and how if you slide, point the wheel in the direction you want to go. Things specific to a rear-wheel drive car.

John drove, sliding in circles, and giving me the play-by-play for everything that he was doing and how to recreate it. Then we switched.

Taking the driver’s seat

With me in the driver seat, John’s instructions were to just drive and have fun and if he gives me any instructions to do them. Immediately.

I drove. I spun. I made a hard left, then a hard right. The back kicked out, I counter steered. I went in circles when I wanted to and I went straight when I wanted to, too. It was just like racing in an autocross—except there was snow under my tires and everything moved slightly slower. And I giggled. A lot.

I’ve raced a lot of cars in my life as an autocrosser, but the majority of them have been lightweight, rear wheel beasts. I know what it feels like to drift a corner and how to correct oversteer. Driving a car is intuitive—especially an older one that has a cable-throttle, giving my foot a direct connection to the gas without a computer getting in the way. The only difference here is less traction due to snow.

Learning: I can handle this

When you have a fear, even if it’s one that leaves you kicking and screaming to avoid, find someone to help pull you out of that place, show you it’s not as scary as it seems, and teach you how to overcome it. They key with snow—and what I’ve been lacking all along—is confidence that I can drive in it. Tonight I got my first dose of it and I’ll start building it from here. Baby steps, my friend.

Now, assuming that the rain doesn’t come and melt it all away overnight, I will not go cruising around like a teenager green from the DMV. I plan to fully embrace my #snOMG-ness and freak out by staying at home. I overcame my fear of driving in the snow, but that doesn’t mean I’m “cured” of all nervousness about it.

I’ll keep working on that one. I can handle driving in the snow; it’s everyone else on the road that I don’t know about.

Thank you, John, for being patient with me.

What’s one fear you’ve overcome lately and did someone help you through it?

Photo Credit: thisisbossi

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  • Anonymous

    Well I guess what someone once told me about Seattle is correct – it sounds IDENTICAL to Paris! Seattle definitely gets a bad reputation of being rainy all the time with very little break in weather conditions but apparently the climate is very similar to Paris which reassures me in case we ever find ourselves living in the States someday (Seattle is a viable option since Boeing is there!). That being said, Paris is also very poorly equipped to handle snow and back in early December when we were momentarily dumped on (only for it to be washed away by rain, like yours), the whole city became paralyzed. So I agree, there’s a reason to fear snow in our cities because it becomes pure panic!

    • I had no idea that snow paralyzed Paris, too. I’m absolutely using that to support those who give us Seattites a hard time when whining after the first flake falls. Thank you for that 🙂

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  • Now, try doing that in evening rush hour with many more inches. Then you’ll know you have it!nn(Imagine: Bumper to bumper traffic on an uncleared, snowy, slushy highway with 5 inches fresh snow and still falling. Three lanes of cars going the same direction. Trying to travel straight up a hill in the much loved Mazda 323. And having the wheel turned all the way to the right just to keep traveling straight. Oh yeah, and you can travel no faster than 15 MPH because the rest of the world doesn’t know how to drive in snow. The light at the top of the hill just turned red. Okay? GO!)nnSeriously though, congrats on trying it and realizing it’s not that bad!

    • Yeah, that scene is why I’d rather not go outside. Eek!nnThanks, Lisa. And now you know it all happened in your car (which I’ve been enjoying). Rear-wheel, FTW!

  • I think you made the best point of all at the end of your post…it’s definitely the other people you have to worry about.nn(Also, there’s a lot of Boulder folks who freak about driving in the snow as well. We’re spoiled because it dumps but then it all melts within two days.)

    • People ask me if I’m nervous about my husband driving in wheel-to-wheel racing. I say no, because everyone on track are driving according to the same rules. It’s everyone on the highway and traveling to/from the track that you need to be weary of.nnThanks, Tara.

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