16 Things Northerners Know About Driving In The Winter


I live in Northwestern Wisconsin, and normally, I am pretty okay with winter. I like the snow — playing in the snow, skiing, snowboarding, sledding and what-not. Hot chocolate and snuggling up is great, too. But let me tell you, this winter has been so bleeping cold and snowy and icy and just horrible that it has made me so irritable and grumpy I was able to come up with a rant list about winter driving. In addition, winter is here to stay the way things are looking. Probably until July. Thanks, Mother Nature.

1. You have to warm up your car for at least five minutes before going anywhere. Lately, since it’s been about -10 — meaning it feels like -40 around these parts — I warm up my car for 10 minutes. That is a lot of extra time that you have to plan for. And if you are one of those people that do not warm up their cars, you are an idiot and your car hates you.

2. You become used to taking simple turns extremely slowly. You turn into an elderly lady on the road because you value your life and car too much to get into an accident. The folks behind you can suck it if they have a problem, but most likely, they are going as cautiously as you are.

3. You can forget about cruising the back country roads. You will get stuck because guaranteed that the fun, twisty roads that you go 70 miles per hour on during the summer have not been plowed, salted, or sanded.

4. The brush in your car has moved from the trunk or back seat up to the passenger seat because you will need to use it nearly every goddamn day if you A) do not get to park in a garage or B) you are parking in any public space. And you have a nice fucking brush, too — the kind with the ice scraper at the end.

5. Your car’s color is not the color it is supposed to be. It is a mix of sand, grit, dirt, and a hell of a lot of salt. You also cannot be bothered to go through the car wash until June because you could either freeze your doors shut or it will just get dirty within 30 seconds anyway.

6. During an actual snow storm, you also cannot drive the back roads. You stick to the interstates because A) you know other people will be driving there too and B) you vainly hope there are plows working on the roads.

7. You will also have developed a deep respect for plows. They are out there all day and night working, and you would not want their job. You also respect them enough to give them a safe distance. Have you actually looked at a plow? There is a reason they have signs that say, “Pass with caution,” and “Keep 500 feet away.” The actual plow part looks like a monster that will most definitely tear apart your car.

8. While you’re driving through the blizzard, you will laugh at the folks on the sides of the road who slipped into the ditch and were likely driving like dumbasses.

9. But because you laughed at them, you will get stuck, too.

10. However, you also laugh haughtily at the giant pick-up trucks stuck in snow banks because they got cocky with their four-wheel drive. Sucks to suck, pick-up! There’s a reason the rest of us on the road were going well under the speed limit.

11. Because there is the possibility of getting stuck somewhere with snow up to your ass, you have a shovel in your car. Not just any cheap shovel, either. The kind that are ergonomically designed to be easy to lift the snow and not kill your back.

12. If you are super prepared, you also have a bag of sand or kitty litter, a sleeping bag and/blanket and spare boots, gloves, hats and scarves in the back seat of your car. You put things in the back seat because what if you weren’t able to get out to your trunk? And if you have all that stuff, you are not a dummy.

13. The road signs that say something like, “Bridges ice over first” are no joke. Since it snows and then freezes overnight, under every bridge and overpass there are ice patches inches thick. I kid you not. Also, don’t think about using your cruise control on the interstates. Unless you have a death wish for yourself. The ice under bridges is fucking scary.

14. And so is black ice. My fellow winter drivers all know what this treacherous, hidden ice is, and how it will make you wet yourself as you skid around and try to keep control and stamp on your brakes.

15. Parking lots are a free-for-all. You can’t see the lines so everybody is parked willy-nilly. It’s cool though because it’s not like the police can give you a parking ticket for not being between the lines. You can’t tell where the goddamn lines are with all the brown, sandy snow.

16. Finally, you still wear sunglasses while driving. It’s not to look cool (necessarily), but because the snow and ice is so white that even the slightest partly sunny day will blind you on the roads and you will be sent in a snow bank or another car or a pedestrian.

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