My car was stuck in a snow drift and there was no cell phone service because at the time, cell phones didn’t exist.
My dad had warned me not to go to work.
When you’re 17, you know it all so despite the weather reports, I ignored him and every meteorologist and left to travel the three miles to my first real job.
The going was fine. Then the weather began to abruptly change and my supervisor decided to close shop and send us home early for safety’s sake.
I could have called my dad. He would have gladly come to pick me up and I know the return trip home would likely have included hot chocolate and corn muffins at the diner.
When you’re 17, you know it all.
I started the car and worked a good 20 minutes scraping off ice on the windows of my 11-year old jalopy.
The rear defroster wouldn’t defrost.
The wipers were frozen in the upright position.
I should have called my dad.
I eased out of the parking lot and gracefully skidded onto the main road.
It looked awfully deserted and the snow was blowing sideways so visibility was near zero as the weather forecast had predicted.
I rolled down my driver’s side window and hung my head outside to locate lines on the road.
There were none.
I turned down what I thought was a familiar street, my bearings distorted.
My car shimmied and fish-tailed, turned slightly sideways and then landed on the wrong side of the road.
I tried to back up. I tried to go forward.
My tires would have none of this.
I needed to call my dad.
I normally didn’t cry easily.
I was sobbing.
I left the car running because I was afraid I’d freeze to death.
I figured a police car or snow plow would be by any second and I would be rescued.
Until I realized with dread that I had gone down the road leading to that old abandoned factory.
There were no street lights.
There were no houses.
There was no thru traffic.
The radio was issuing warnings to stay off the road.
It was too late for me to heed them.
I had seen enough buried alive movies to know that I shouldn’t stay here though also enough scary movies to know that if I ventured out the result could be disastrous.
I hoped I wasn’t getting delirious and starting to hallucinate because I swore I heard a rap on the window.
I huddled low in my seat and blasted the heat.
The rap grew louder.
I put my hands over my ears.
“Young lady, are you alright?”
He was trying to pry open my door.
I was too scared to budge.
Then I screamed and I must have scared him because he backed away.
A flashlight shone on my dashboard and then back upon the stranger’s face.
“I’m Bernard Schaefer. I live on Livingston Place.”
“I was driving home when I saw your headlights beaming through the trees.”
“We’ve got to get you out of here.”
Prying open the door he yanked me onto the snow bank and then scooped me up into his pickup truck.
I was shivering and couldn’t really talk though I remember feeling grateful.
Mr. Schaefer never asked me for my address.
Within minutes we were parked in front of my house and my dad came racing out.
He hugged me so hard and then he yelled at me.
“I told you it was too dangerous to go to work.”
I was only 17. I knew everything.
When we turned around to thank Mr. Schaefer and invite him in to thaw out, he was gone.
The next day my dad and I drove to Livingston Place and searched until we found a mailbox marked “Schaefer”.
We knocked on the door and a young gentleman answered.
“Hi, we’re looking for Bernard Schaefer.”
“My daughter and I wanted to thank him for his heroic efforts last night. If it wasn’t for him I don’t know what might have happened.”
I had never seen my dad cry.
“I think you’re mistaken,” the young man replied.
“My Grandfather Bernard died over three years ago.”
Sometimes in life, not everything makes sense.
Maybe it’s not supposed to.
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