News and Tribune


February 7, 2014

DODD: Slip-sliding away

“Making bad decisions is a part of life. Blaming others for your bad decisions is immature.” — Nishan Panwar

This is not the column you were supposed to read this week. I had planned to do a profile on a fascinating gentleman and had an interview all planned for early Thursday evening. The interview was at 5:30 in Borden.

At 5, Kim looked out the window and gasped loudly. In the past, I have noticed a trend with Kim — she is not usually an out-loud gasping type. Usually, such a sound emanating from her is not a good thing.

My hunch was right. It was not a positive gasp. I looked out to see our car — which we had previously parked at the top of the driveway — was now halfway down a hill in our side yard, which still has about a half a foot of frozen snow and ice. It had apparently slid sideways from a dead stopped park job down the hill into the side yard.

By the time I got warmly dressed to join her she had already tried to back the 4-wheel-drive vehicle up the hill. I won’t go into detail and point fingers, but we had a discussion previous to parking the car where I wanted to park on the flatter side of the drive. There was something about her shoes and snow, I don’t recall the exact words, but I know I had not wanted to park on the side where the car was parked. I even remember mumbling something about being halfway afraid to leave the car parked there.

Of course, she always accuses me of mumbling.

Anybody that has tried to back a car up a hill with a half foot of ice and snow in a side yard already knows how well that attempt was going. Two of the wheels already were buried into the frozen ground beneath the ice and snow. This car was not going anywhere backward and uphill.

I suddenly realized that my phone contact had told me they would not be able to be at the interview. Two other parties I could not contact by phone were going to expect me in about 10 minutes. I was not going to be there.

I was in a situation that might require a loud gasp. I am not a loud gasping type. I am more of the verbally profane type. I had to fight the urge to be profane. I was semi-successful in that; I only used some rather controlled light profane words. And I tried to utter them more to myself. At least I didn’t think I was loud enough for Kim to hear me from inside the car.

So there I was going to be late for a meeting with two people whom I had no way to contact and my car was buried in ice and snow halfway down my sloping side yard. And it was about 18 degrees and just before dark.

I had to call one friend to get the number of another friend who had to call and get word that I would not be able to make it to the interview. In 19 years, I have never been a no-show for an interview. It was a helpless feeling.

I called a friend who owns a towing business and he was going out of town and couldn’t make it until the next morning. Then I had one of those brilliant ideas. Since I could not back it up the hill onto the pavement, why not drive it all the way down the hill and try to get back onto the driveway.

This is where Kim and I had a difference of opinion. She only saw me losing control sliding down the hill and destroying our pole-barn garage and the car. She can be such a negative Nellie sometimes.

Possibly, she was basing her worry on some pretty brilliant ideas I had in the past which had resulted in some sort of destruction of personal property and/or some physical injury of one kind or another.

On the other hand, I knew that if I moved part of a woodpile and steered precisely between the corner of the garage and the large tree at the corner of driveway at the bottom of the hill I had at least three to five feet of clearance while maintaining almost zero mph net speed, which would allow me to maintain complete control of my car on the half foot of ice and frozen snow.

You see, I am what we like to call an optimist. I guess if I was successful, it would be an optimist, but if the whole plan went to hell in a handbasket, Kim would have had another terminology to describe me and my plan. The whole thing, if it turned out wrong, would have been one of those kinds of insurance claim narratives that would have probably gone viral on the Internet.

This was one of those lonely-at-the-top, decision-making times in life. I was confident in my plan. I saw a look in Kim’s eyes that told me she knew I had made up my mind. I know in one way she wanted me to be successful, but suspected in another way she would have had a great story to tell everyone for years if I would have destroyed our house and garage to save a $65 towing bill. For me, it was a matter of principle. And I am not anything if not a man of principle.  

I will be honest with you. I wasn’t sure if I could make it or not.

However, as I am writing this column I report that I have successfully maneuvered the car back onto the driveway and it is safely tucked into the garage parking spot. Kim will have to swallow her pride and tell of how my brilliant plan and skillful driving saved the day and $65. And next week, hopefully I can reschedule the interview and have a column about a fascinating man who has lived a long and wonderful life.

A friend of mine who heard this story asked me why I would park at the top of a hill when I had a semicircle, pull-through driveway. I resisted the temptation to hand my wife the phone.

— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at

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