BACKING UP INTO FROSTBITE

backing up, reversing, memoriesNo matter how carefully we back up, we still run into a memory.

Or a car.

That’s what happens to me this week. I stop at the parking lot and run into the post office to buy some stamps.

I race back to my car. The thermometer reads 22 degrees, but with the wind chill, the meteorologist reports that it feels like 5.

The cold snap snaps me back to the winter I cross-country skied with my friend’s husband in Minnesota.

S. was smart enough to be pregnant during the winter, so on my weekend visit with her from sunny comparatively warmer California, she thought it quite clever to dress me up in her ski clothes and send me away for the morning with her befuddled husband.

I knew she just wanted some time to herself. T. hovered over his wife like she was a finicky laptop, needing to be stroked often to make sure it/she was still in good working order.

Like a good gal pal, I went along with her devious plan. T. and I drove the short distance to the local golf course, which in the winter in the mid-west became a sloping loping cross country track.cross country skiing, frost bite

The cold was as sharp as a snake bite.

Within minutes we rented the skis and began the loop. Within four minutes my fingers were so cold I had to pull off my gloves and blow on them.

Tears streamed down my face. Not from distress, although I was extremely unhappy. My eyes water anytime the temps reach 30 or below.

T. cluelessly skied on. I didn’t want to be a wimp. I wanted to be a good friend and give S. her morning of blissful aloneness.

So I skied on. Until I could no longer hold onto the ski poles, because I no longer felt them.

Begrudgingly, T. led us back to the clubhouse. I ran into the bathroom and poured cold water over my white-as-death fingers, screaming in pain.

Frostbite stings as sharply as a thousand wasp bites.

And now, here I am sitting in the park lot, blowing on my fingers to bring them back to life. Once frostbitten, fingers numb up quickly.

I pull my gloves back on, the ones with fleece inside, check my rear and side view mirrors and turn my head to the rear before backing out slowly.

CRASH.

In less than a blink of an eye, I check the mirror again, which is filled with the view of the passenger side of a black car.

A woman jumps out of her car yelling, “You hit my car!”

Not possible, I think. I’m always so careful when I look behind me – in my car, as well as in my past.

But those memories, and black cars, can still race up from behind and hit us as fast as frost bite.

Thanks to Google Images.

65 thoughts on “BACKING UP INTO FROSTBITE

  1. I have a similar memory. Carefully driving my old Mini Cooper (British Racing Green, of course) downhill outside my village, hitting black-ice, spinning through 360 degrees and all without hitting the kerb. That was a few years back and there’s a part of my stomach that is still rolling.

    • Black ice is the worst. My car beeps whenever the temperature outside turns 37. Supposedly, that is the worse temperature for black ice. Mini Coopers are so cute! But scary in black ice for sure. Then again, small enough to do a full circle without hitting a curb! 🤓 My stomach rolls still when I think of that ‘crunch.’ 😖

  2. Oh, no! How upsetting to have this happen. Insurance is fairly reasonable with fender benders, Pamela. Hope the cars weren’t too damaged. I had an accident in a parking lot in the dark 2 weeks ago. I had just spent almost 3 hours at a Strings Concert, grades 4 though 12. The normal parking spaces are in a line with a yellow curb behind. I looked both ways and hit a black SUV which apparently was parked parallel behind me. My front of the car facing sidewalk along school had a distant light but the back end no lighting. The police officer told me it was my fault. I think yellow curbs aren’t allowed to have cars. Ended up a $125.00 fine for ME! My bumper needed white paint to cover up black paint and they had a small dent in door of back of van. Of course, needing a complete door replacement.
    On other part of post, I was so sorry that you kept on skiing along with frozen fingers! 😦 I have been noticing my poor old fingers don’t have good circulation and have thin (“Thinsulate” brand) gloves near fingers and thicker medim sized leather ones over them. This helps while playing outside or hiking with my grandies. I have sympathy for both situations, friend. hugs!

    • Thanks for the empathy and sympathy, which I send to you also. $125 fine…? Ugh!! In my accident, my car was fine and the other barely had a dent, but I think she claimed for a new car door. Ridiculous!!!!

      • People are ridiculous, I agree, Pam! I felt this car could have gone to a professional and had the little dent pushed out, by taking the door apart. Oh well! I went to another concert, this time it was choral, different grandchild. I pointed out to her parents as we parked side by side that behind us, the curb was painted yellow. In our local ordinances, yellow means not to be parked along. We all got back to our cars later, NO cars parked behind us. I just wondered if Strings orchestra childrens’ parents were different or did they suddenly realize, yellow curbs behind other cars “properly” parked between parallel white lines were forbidden?

  3. Many years ago I got frost bite in Berlin in my feet because I was wearing high heels with nylons on a very cold night. You describe the pain very well.
    Memories and cars can sneak up on you very fast . 😫

  4. You bring up memories. I now spend only the milder months in New England. I think I miss x-c skiing, but now my fingers and toes turn numb. I’ve had winter accidents and terrifying skids on black ice.

  5. Odd how being in a memory takes you out of the present moment and can actually be dangerous! Memories triggered by similar events, like the cold in your fingers, travel down well-worn paths in our brains to return us to another state of mind, anther place and time. I hope you and your car and they and their car are OK now Pam.

    • I know, Jennifer. Listening to an old song can do the same thing – bring up a memory of, say, the PROM and the gorgeous glittery long blue dress we wore, which brings us far away from the present, where we’re sitting in a car wearing blue jeans and an overcoat. Our brains are quite amazing contraptions. 🙂

  6. I hate when that happens! I hope you weren´t too shaken up. (as I would have been) I completely understand the cold thing. Even though I was brought up in the cold prairie winters, I get cold very fast. I hated tobogganing, skating, hockey and curling as a child because my hands got too cold very fast even in heavy mittens. I have never even tried skiing for that reason. As for eyes tearing in 30 degrees (F) yup, that happens to me too. Some people are just not meant for cold weather.

    • Some people, are meant for the warm temperatures of, say, Spain, or CA. Sigh. But here I am in beautiful but un-balmy Boston. Where, by the way, I tested it, and my eyes actually start tearing at 38 degrees F!! I’m such a wimp, but thanks for joining me in my cold-phobia.

  7. I know that feeling. You don’t stand much of a chance in a parking lot. It can be totally the other person’s fault but the insurance adjusters just follow a 50-50 rule for parking lot guilt.

    • Thanks for taking my side in this! You’re so right, I don’t think I could have done anything to avoid the little back-up blunder, but unfortunately, the insurance company is giving me 100% of the fault. SO not fair. Sigh. But at least I can get my revenge by writing about it. :-0

      • You have my sympathy as I’ve had this experience and whether you’re at fault or not doesn’t seem to matter to anyone. The other woman in my fender-bender got all the damage because I had a truck with a good bumper. She was going too fast in a crowded parking lot and I was creeping out of my space. It was her stepping on the gas when she came out of nowhere that caused her to get a gash across her car’s back end, but because I was moving at half a mile an hour, I had to wear 50% of the blame.
        I’m sorry you got the whole blame. Not fair!

  8. Gosh, you’re a good friend. I used to cross-country ski as a teenager. Only once or twice a year as it was a two hour plus drive to the mountain and you only got snow for a couple of months. It was fun, though.
    I hate that sound of hitting another car and I’ve done the bewildered “where did they come from??”.

    • Bewildered is the perfect word. How the HECK did that car come from nowhere?
      Yes, some people spend hours to drive to their perfect ski spot. Me? I’ll spend hours to get AWAY from it. 🙂

  9. I don’t know how people in places like Minnesota bear that cold weather. I have daughters in Indiana and Maryland–both too cold for me. I usually visit them in the spring and fall.

    Backing up in a parking lot always seems to be an act of faith. I haven’t backed into anyone yet, but someone backed into me once. It was a tiny bump, but it took a few doctor’s visits to get my neck fixed.

    • Fortunately my back-up bump’s sound was louder than its bite. But boy, I’m relying on a lot of faith now when I reverse. And I back up so slowly and carefully it’s ridiculous. Enjoy your warm, happy place!

  10. I hope the drama queen calmed down enough when she saw how little the damage was. I can’t understand her claiming for a new door, surely her garage will point out one isn’t needed.
    I have to wonder how shaken up you were just at her response., If the crash happened at speed, it was her speed instead of care and attention. . What did your friend;s husband have to say?
    Keep well, keep warm,
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • I think the drama queen just wanted a new car door! I think she already had a dent in it and got my insurance company to pay for it. But, maybe I’m just a skeptic…!! Yes, the car crunch was much louder than its bite; my car had nary a scratch. But yes, the lady’s reaction shook me up a lot.
      As far as my friend’s husband, the cross country skier – he wanted to go back out and ski some more after I warmed up my fingers. I said N O, NO, NO!!!

  11. Oh yes indeed. I once reversed a hire car firmly into a bollard, mangling the rear. ‘Never mind,’ said a good friend, ‘it’s only a car. Could have been a child.’

  12. loved the connection to our past as a bump from behind…where, oh where
    have all those years and memories gone???? how can we store them in
    our “fickle file cabinet” that sometimes allows us a glimpse at a wonderful,
    fun story like your cross countrying and other times the drawer seems
    stuck and won’t give us a glimpse of a life event that teeters out of our grasp and is forever lost in that bulging cabinet of memories.

  13. I think your memory of getting frostbite would have left an indelible mark in your brain. It’s too bad that your hindsight was better than foresight. You should have stopped at the first sign of your fingers getting numb.

    I’m glad the crunch was minor. Too bad the other driver was a drama queen. I can only imagine her yelling at you.

  14. Eek, I felt that cold! When it gets to your fingers or toes, it’s all downhill. I remember a time when I was coming home from school in the snow as a kid, my friends and I had a bit of a snowball fight in the street and I was wearing rubber rain boots that were quite wide at the top (and weren’t particularly warm to start with!), so a fair bit of snow got into them, which slid in around my feet and toes. It turned out I’d forgotten my house key that day and I had to sit on the back step of my house for about two hours with this snow around my feet in the boots. I remember the agony when I finally got indoors and took my boots off, my Dad was gently trying to warm toes between his hands while I screamed.

    Sorry about your car bump too!

    • Ack – I remember that feeling of snow getting down into boots. Horrid! And you, poor thing, waited hours to get your tootsies warmed up?!Like me, that feeling will remain with you for life.

      On the other hand, the scene of your dad warming your toes between his hands- that warms my heart.

  15. I backed out of a friend’s driveway and into her son’s basketball pole! It collapsed onto my car which was a Volvo station wagon and almost unbreakable. Almost. The crunch of your car colliding with an unexpected and unwelcome foreign object is horrible….
    My Mom got her ears frostbitten at the funeral of a friend’s father in a cold snowstorm in PA. Afterwards, anytime she had a drink with gin, her ears would get flaming red!

    • That’s the worse back-up story I’ve heard! Thank goodness it was a friend’s pole. My first experience of a bad back-up was as a witness: I looked out my Crafton Ave. bedroom window and saw Mrs. Poling (Bev’s mom) back out of her driveway into a car parked across the street. Mrs. P screamed for many long minutes – I think she was in shock. I’ve ALWAYS backed out so slowly and carefully since I saw that … at 16!
      I’m sorry for smiling about your mom’s ginny red-ears, but what a cute remembrance. I don’t think many people can claim they got frostbite at a funeral!! It’s these memories that keep our loved ones alive within us, always. xo

  16. Oooh. You hit on one my pet peeves! I think people driving in parking lots should realize that other people will be backing out of spaces and can’t necessarily see around all the cars. She had to be going pretty fast to actually hit you, even if you did pull out in front of her. I used to live in VT with a wind chill at times reaching 35-50 below. Now I live in OR. I don’t miss the cold! Happy Spring!

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