It was dark and raining, and I was in slightly unfamiliar territory — a place where I’ve driven enough times to know the ways I usually go, but not entirely familiar with all the nuances of the road. I still had to rely on a map and GPS.
I knew where I wanted to go and the general route I wanted to take to get there. I plugged my destination into the Waze app, adding a stop so it would take me in the right direction.
So far so good. Then the rain picked up, and Waze directed me down a different street.
No big deal, I thought. How lost can I get? It’s not like I’ll end up in Staten Island.
Then I missed the exit I needed and suddenly the big sign in front of me said I was headed to Staten Island.
By this point the rain was coming down in sheets of water so thick and fast that the windshield wipers couldn’t move them fast enough. The roads were rivers.
I was in completely unfamiliar territory, far from my starting point, headed in the wrong direction, and couldn’t see more than 5 feet in front of me. And I was alone.
Life knows how to send a message.
I’m not going to lie: it was the scariest driving situation I’ve ever been in. I’ve never driven in those conditions and I wasn’t sure I knew how.
But there was only one thing I could do, so that’s what I did: I kept driving.
At 5 miles per hour, I navigated to the next exit ramp to avoid an unnecessary trip to Staten Island. I kept my focus on the taillights of the cars ahead of me, the only thing I could see.
Each pass under an overpass was a brief moment of refuge where I got some clarity in my vision, when I could remind myself of what I needed to do to get through this:
- Drive as slowly as you need to.
- Stay focused on the lights, and let them guide you.
- Find your way to the roads you know.
- Remember that this won’t last forever. All storms pass.
Soon enough, I was back to more familiar territory. The rain started to ease. And even though I was still at least 45 minutes from my destination I felt a sense of relief.
I had survived the worst of the storm. I was safe.
I later learned that there had been a tornado warning in the time I was on the road. So that’s one more thing to add to my list of things I learned I can handle.
Say what you will about 2020, but it’s been a persistent teacher.