Yesterday, the airwaves were filled with dire warnings of a winter storm. It was going to snow, they said, but later it would get cold enough where everything would turn to ice. Now, I’ve weathered a many a winter storm since I moved to the East Coast back in 1992…in fact, my first storm was a Nor’easter in Boston that left the tree branches encased in ice. Beautiful, but very cold and very dangerous.
But until now, I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to drive in a winter storm. Usually by the time the weathermen are predicting the coming of the ice age, I am already well-ensconced in my cocoon of blankets, sipping on hot tea. Not so last night.
I was on my way from work to pick up a little dinner before heading into Philadelphia to sing the roles of Flora and Annina in La Traviata at the High Note Cafe, when I skidded on some black ice and ran into a telephone pole. But it didn’t end there; hitting the pole only sent me back into the street to end up facing the wrong way on the shoulder.
Now, before you start worrying, I wasn’t really going that quickly, so the impact was really not bad at all. I’m fine, I didn’t hit anyone, and the car doesn’t even have a dent (you’ve gotta love those plastic Saturns!). But it did shake me up a bit.
After making sure my car was, indeed, okay, I made my way SLOWLY to the place I was planning on grabbing some dinner. I phoned Ray and told him what happened, and he told me I should ask whether or not the show was still on. I had never thought of that. Why would someone cancel a show because of weather? And why would I not continue on my journey? I mean, don’t they say “the show must go on” for a reason? I inwardly guffawed, but I called the guy in charge just to make sure.
The show manager said there was no change, and that the show would go on. He seemed concerned when I told him I ran into a telephone pole, but not so concerned, obviously, to tell me to go home. I expected that reaction and ordered my food and studied my music.
About 20 minutes later, Ray called again and told me that NJ emergency management was telling everyone to get off the roads and go home. He said I should call the show manager again and tell him I wasn’t coming. Although I was loathe to do it, Ray convinced me by telling me the traffic was so bad that it would have taken me 2-3 hours to make the normally 30-minute trip in (and besides, he said, I was worth a lot more to him in one piece than any money I could have made on this gig). I called the show manager, who was very clearly upset. But in the end, he understood, and told me that depending on who showed up, they might just do a concert of highlights from the opera. Good idea, I thought, as I packed up my things and started my journey home.
In the ten miles between the restaurant and my house, I don’t think I drove faster than 25 MPH. It’s possible that when I got on the highway, I was cruising at 30, but that was definitely my top speed. And when I got home, Ray told me he was happy I was safe, and I wrapped myself in my cocoon of blankets and sipped hot tea.