See, I wasn’t kidding…

Earlier tonight, my 17 year-old daughter fell on the ice in the neighbor’s driveway as she and my wife went to visit.  My daughter’s hip has been bothering her since, so the better half took her over to the Emergency Room to get checked out, just as a precaution.

Right after making the previous post about the Hanover article, I decided to get the garbage all together and take it out, since pick-up is tomorrow morning ’round these parts.  It needs to be put out by the road.  Let me describe how that’s done.

We have a pretty large home (about 4,000 sq. ft) in a very rural area of northwestern Pennsylvania.  In fact, there are as many Amish families living on our road as there are, uh, what would you call the rest of us?  English as they say?  Anyway, I packed up the two bags worth, put them in the plastic can I keep right outside the garage door, and began heading down the driveway.

Our home sits on top of a little hill in the landscape.  Our asphalt driveway is nearly 200 feet long, so it’s a good haul down to the road.  We have about 2 feet of snow on the ground, but the last couple days it’s been hanging around 50 degrees – a far and welcome cry from the 5 and 10 degree highs we’ve been having for the past month or so.  Consequently, the hard-packed snow on the driveway (you know, the crap you can’t get with the snowblower where your vehicle tires pack it down) has been melting lately, and all the water flowing down the driveway freezes at night in the 25 degree air.

I started down the driveway, heavy plastic garbage can in tow.  Thank goodness the stupid thing has wheels.

Ever hear of black ice?

Well, unsuspecting me didn’t consider the fact that all this freeze/melt/freeze created lots of it on the bottom half of the driveway.  You see, the bottom half of the driveway dips down to the road at a steep angle. 

In an instant, I no longer had any feet.  I may as well have been trying to walk on a frozen lake with teflon-coated shoes.

As my life, my loves, and my as-yet unfinished books and articles flashed before my eyes (with the unexpected split-second fantasy of me in command of the Army of the Potomac Cavalry Corps), somehow my desire to live kicked in, and I twisted around just enough to get the garbage can between me and my impending death – the black ice.

Can you appreciate how great a sled a plastic garbage can makes?

Now that I knew I wouldn’t die, I was caught like Wile E. Coyote just as he realizes he ran off the cliff, and is about to fall 1000 feet to the ground.  After a split second pause, with me screaming in the dark like a little school girl, my 42 year-old legs flailing to catch friction to no avail, I rode that garbage can the last 70 feet or so all the way down to the middle of the road, where I stopped abruptly as I hit that damn Pennsylvania anti-skid they spray all over the roads around here.  Screaming all the way, this time like a school girl being held by her feet by the Seniors, hair heading for the toilet bowl.

Once I stopped, I either muttered or yelled an impressive string of expletives – can’t remember what it was, but it was anatomically acrobatic and impressive – then reality set in.

Back when I started this blog, I made an early post about how the “regular guy” in me gets uncomfortable sometimes when I’m recognized as an author and historian – and I specifically stated that I fall in my driveway in the winter time like everyone else, to the loud guffaws of my neighbors.  It seems to happen once a year.

Well, I looked around and listened.  Thank goodness, I thought, it’s dark.  Hunched over top of my garbage can, in the middle of the road, wheezing and sweating, my form was undoubtedly glowing in the soft light of my nearby light post.  Just enough for people to see me.  Damn, I thought.  Well, if they didn’t see me, they most assuredly heard me.  Damn again, I thought.  In the future I’m liable to have one of the neighbors ask me how to perform one of those expletive phrases I screamed out in the inky darkness.

Then I realized one other thing – I hadn’t stopped until I hit the middle of the road, and had a car been coming by they would have run me right over.  Probably never would have seen me, either.  “Mildred, what in the hell was that?”  neighbor Howard would ask his wife as their car landed back on the road surface.

Of course, around here I probably have more chance of being run over by an Amish buggy than a car.  Imagine the headline.  Man Run Over by Horse and Buggy While Riding Garbage Can In Driveway. 

Anyway, I wasn’t kidding when I earlier posted about falling in my driveway.  Of course, I can thank the heavens I’m here to write about it, and poke fun at myself.

Then again, shouldn’t my dang 17 year-old be taking the garbage out?  And falling down?  And getting run over by an Amish buggy while riding the garbage can down the driveway?

Oh, wait, she’s in the ER right now, so I’ll cut her some slack.  Never mind.  But when they get home, do I have a story for them…

Published in: on February 22, 2007 at 12:25 am  Comments (11)  

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. JD,
    Keeping in mind that of course I’m laughing with you and not at you, thank you very much for that post. I needed something like that this morning. And you reminded me of the perils facing me next winter back in Colorado.
    None of your neighbors have vuideo cameras, do they?

  2. Very funny JD! I had a similar experience two weeks ago in my back yard. I was running (dumb thing to do on ice) to check how much LP gas we had left in our tank when I suddenly found myself flat on my back gazing at the stars. Fortunately, no one observed my sudden change of position.

  3. “… with the unexpected split-second fantasy of me in command of the Army of the Potomac Cavalry Corps …”

    The question is who you imagined yourself to be. Major General George Stoneman or Major General Alfred Pleasonton?

    Best wishes,


  4. Also laughing with you and not at you. You bring back a lot of memories of falls I took when we lived on a sloping lot in Treasure Lake development.

    As for being run over by an Amish buggy, perhaps it would be pulled by a cavalry horse.

    glad that you didn’t get hurt.

  5. Thanks, guys – I appreciate the laughs because after the terror (!) was over, it was a relief to be able to laugh at myself. I could have easily broken an arm or my neck, but once in a while the fates smile on you 😉

    Mark – Pleasonton… I don’t want hemorrhoids, but I love a good cigar!


  6. J.D.,

    As one who has been to the palatial estate and knowing the perils of winter out there, am kinda surprised the neighbors don’t have signs out there ala the Slam Dunk contest when one slips on the ice. Just by reading your description, I would have given you a 10. 🙂

    For what it is worth, I too dodged a bullet while taking out the garbage last evening, and somehow stayed on my feet when I should have beeen down for the count. Must be the hockey instincts are still there from years past. 🙂 Am glad you survived the trip down the driveway, and you are still in one piece. 🙂

    I hope your daughter is OK.

    Regards from the Garden State,


  7. Maybe this is a warning that you guys should just let your garbage pile up, at least until spring arrives. As cold as it gets, the stuff wouldn’t smell (much).

    Just a thought (which didn’t work with my wife!)


  8. Hey Rob,

    That’s an idea!

    Steve, she’s on crutches now (again!) with some torn ligaments in the left knee. She’s one very unhappy camper as you can imagine.


  9. J.D.,

    I can imagine, and please pass along my best wishes to her. Falling on the ice seems to be a theme, as my Mom took a spill this morning, but thankfully she did not hurt anything.


  10. Steve,

    I will – and thank goodness about your Mom. We have to watch out the next couple days – supposed to get another 4-6″ of snow, then freezing rain after.



  11. J.D.,

    🙂 Lovely, and let’s go deal with Harry Heth..;) Just looking out the window as the snow is falling here right now, I think I would rather deal with Harry than the snow removal.;)

    But that’s just me. 🙂

    Hope all is well,


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