Thursday, November 25, 2010

What not to do in the event of an "arctic freeze"

Mom and I sort of promised to not talk about this again. However, seeing as we are approaching what will most likely be a very cold winter (and the holidays), I feel like it's in everyone's best interest to share this story. Hopefully you'll learn something from it.

Christmas Day 2008. It had snowed for a few days, and then we got a layer of freezing rain on top of the snow. It was a mess. But my Oma and Auntie had spent all day preparing a roast, and we felt we ought to at least try to make it. To Milwaukie. From the West Hills.

Mistake #1: Dad says he thinks he can make it in the Audi. We have doubts, but go along with it anyway.

So me, Mom, Dad, and Rudolpho the Pooh all piled into the Audi. Before we made it to the end of our street, we heard a terrible scraping sound along the bottom of the car.

Mistake #2: Dad says it's probably nothing. Again, we have doubts, but go along with it anyway.

Half an hour later, we made it to Milwaukie. As Mom and I took Rudolpho the Pooh and all the presents inside, Dad inspected the car. He came inside a few minutes later and was like, yeah, the Audi's going to, uh, need to go into the shop. So I'm going to take it home now before it gets dark. Oma had just pulled the roast out of the oven. We had to stay.

Really, you're thinking? You don't understand- we're German. We had to stay. If there's a giant slab of meat, you stay. That's just the way it is.

Except Dad's not as German as Mom and I are. So he was like, I'm still going to go- you girls can get a cab home, right?

Mistake #3: We figure we better call Radio Cab and make a reservation just to be on the safe side. We do. They say they're not taking reservations, but to just call when we're ready and they'll come get us. Once again, we have doubts. But figure it will be just fine. Dad takes the Audi home.

We had our pot roast. Four German women and Rudolpho the Pooh. Around 9, I called Radio Cab back and asked them to send a car. They said it would be about an hour. No problem, we figured. And we started playing "Tick." Tick is a card game. It's a card game that, when you really just want to be home, becomes the longest and dullest game in the history of card games.

Mistake #4: We wait that hour. And then another hour.

I called Radio Cab again. Oh, you're next on the list. We were next on the list!!

We weren't next on the list.

It was midnight. On Christmas. I called Radio Cab (STUPID RADIO CAB) again. Oh... yeah, you're next on the list. I became, well, let's just say frustrated. I told Mr. Radio Cab that we'd been waiting for 3 hours and he better tell me the truth.
Um, you're in Milwaukie. Nobody's going to come out to Milwaukie right now.

So... in what I'm sure was a totally calm and rational voice, I explained to Mr. Radio Cab that he should have told me the truth when I'd called him that afternoon. And also, that he was a sucky person.

So Oma and Auntie suggested we just sleep on their couches. Neither my mom or I are very good sleepers, especially in other people's homes. We asked if they had any bourbon. No, but we have leftover roast, and could warm up some milk and play another game of Tick.

Mom gave me "the look." Kaiti, go get the phone book.

I did as I was told, and began calling every cab company in the book. They all said the same thing- none of their drivers would be willing to come out there.

And then I called Orange Cab. Not Yellow Cab, not Green Cab. Orange Cab. Ever heard of it? We hadn't either. But none of the more common colors were going to come get us. And... victory! Orange Cab said they'd come in half an hour! We waited 30 minutes. And you know what? They came exactly when they said they would.

Here's the car they brought:
It looked exactly like this. As in, no markings. Nothing that actually said Orange Cab. And two big Iranian men in suits got out.

Not exactly the cab experience we'd expected, but we really wanted to get home. And the roads were terrible, so maybe they had brought a different car than usual.

Mistake #5: We figure it's probably fine. Note: this story actually does turn out fine. But generally, this probably wasn't the best situation for us to put ourselves in. We really should have just crashed on the couches.

Anyway, we said our goodnights and gathered Rudolpho the Pooh. Our drivers didn't look pleased about Pooh, so I put him in his crate and set him in the back on top of a very nice Persian rug. There were Persian rugs on every floor in the car. As soon as we were on our way, Mom called Dad and told him which company we were with and when he should expect us. As in, call the cops if we're not back soon. Dad was asleep.

The drivers chatted with us a bit, then cranked up what appeared to be one of their favorite songs. Do you girls like Arabic pop music?

Mom shot me a very knowing look. Then, in her sweetest voice, said well to be honest, I haven't heard much of the Arabic pop music, but it seems very nice!

Oh God.

They chuckled, and then turned up the music even louder.

The next stretch of the "cab" ride was actually pretty easy. They had put our address into the GPS, so we all just kind of stayed quiet, perhaps pondering the differences in our music tastes. But then we got back into the West Hills. Unless you've lived in the West Hills, it's hard to understand that there are only certain roads you should take when it's icy out.

So when they started to turn onto 27th, Mom and I both told them to take Hamilton instead. It's one block further, but far less steep. They discussed amongst each other, then went ahead and turned onto 27th.

They thought we were trying to mess with them.

We made it halfway up the hill, then slid all the way back down. After two more attempts, our drivers finally turned around and asked what is this "Hamilton" that we speak of. We directed them to the most favorable streets. After getting stuck a couple more times and having a group prayer to Jesus for strength (yes really), we finally made it home. It was like 2 in the morning.

We had made it!

Mistake #6: I go around to the back of the car to get Rudolpho the Pooh, and Mom gleefully prances into the house saying she's going to go grab some cash. I, knowing we needed to pay our drivers but also not wanting to stay out in the cold with them, followed Mom into the house.


Our drivers were not happy.

And then I realized, they had just taken us on what was probably the most treacherous drive of their lives, and now they thought we were going to stiff them. I would have been pissed, too. So I set Rudolpho the Pooh down in the snow and waited with them. For... a really long time.

It was so awkward.

We discussed, um, the weather. And the holidays. And then the two of them turned to each other and talked for about 5 minutes, signaling towards the house and towards me at various points in the conversation. What were they saying? Did they hate our holiday decorations? Did they hate me? Or should I have invited them inside for a nightcap?

And after a very long time- we have decided we like your reindeer.

The red neon light-up reindeer in the window. Did this really require 5 full minutes of consultation? I didn't question, just thanked them for the compliment.

Mom finally came back outside and gave these guys their money, and a very generous tip. They were good guys, yet the language barrier between us and them had made the whole situation very tense. And it made me feel like kind of a jackass for doubting them, when they were the only company who came through for us.

They handed me a huge stack of cards- you go out for New Year's- we take you.

I didn't call them, but I still have their card in my wallet.

And Mom and I? We went inside, and without a word, poured 2 bourbons.


  1. Haha! Thanks for the story. I relate on many levels :)

  2. Thanks for reading, Bethany! Yes, I bet you can relate to the German stuff!