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It’s a Monday afternoon. It’s President’s Day. I look out the office window around 3:30 p.m. and I see the white stuff falling from the sky.

No big deal. It’s been one of the worst winters in memory, but I’ve driven in the snow a lot, mostly at night during my career, so I can handle this. No big deal.

Flakes keep falling. It’s coming down at a rapid pace. Still, no desire to freak. … OK, now we are getting reports of ice on the roadways. This could get interesting. It’s deadline day here at the Farm and Dairy and I don’t go home until the editing is done.

I’m still unfazed by the snowfall. I have a Jeep Liberty with four wheel drive. If I go slow, all will be OK.

Then the phones start ringing. State Route 45 is closed or should be avoided. There is a semi-truck stuck on what is known as the ski slope hill.

In my mind, I realize the roads are going to be slippery, but I don’t go that direction, so I’ll still be OK.

It’s about 5 now. Quitting time. My cell phone starts ringing. It’s my middle brother. He doesn’t call to chat. In fact, I can probably count on two hands how many times he has called me.

“There are semi-trucks stuck on ice on state Route 14 where it’s flat. You may have some trouble getting up the large hill by Witmer’s Farm Equipment,” my brother John said. I can remember his words exactly!

I said, OK, no problem. He goes on.

“If there is a truck stuck and you can get around it, don’t go slow. Get going and get up the hill.”

“I’ll get home. It’s fine,” I tell him.

Another call comes in to the office. State Route 14 is bad. Real bad. Still, all will be OK, I figure.

I’m pulling out of the parking lot at 5:26 p.m. I figure if I get home by 6:30 p.m., it will be a good day. It is usually about 25-30 minute drive with traffic.

Slow going along the portion of state Route 14, called East State Street in Salem. I keep thinking, no problem, just go slow.

Just past the Salem Community Hospital, I realized traffic is backed up. Oh well. Just as long as we are moving. Then, about 30 minutes passes and I’m not through it. Soon, I realize traffic is at a standstill on state Route 14. I see a road off to the right. It hasn’t been plowed but, hey, if I go slow I can still get home and not be stuck.

I start down the road and come to a hill. No big deal. Remember: Go slow! Then I realize there is a car sideways on the hill and one at the bottom trying to get up it. Hmmm… Probably not the best way to go. However, that leaves me without a route home. State Route 45 is closed. State Route 14 won’t work. I could head out of Salem north, but I know the one state route also has a large hill and I’m betting semi-trucks are stuck on it as well. It’s now 6:30 p.m.

I know! I’ll go back to Wal-Mart. I figure at least they have food at the store and I can stay in there until they get traffic moving on state Route 14.

I call a friend and family and tell them I’m fine, but I’m going to hang out at the store for a little while. The roads are closed and I’m just stuck for the time being. It’ll be cleared up in an hour, maybe two.

I tour the store, starting in groceries first — after all, I’m hungry! I grab a buggy and start walking around. I get some hot food. Some chicken tenders sound good. I picked my groceries for the week.

Go to the front of the store. Ugh! No luck! Now the police are forcing motorists off the road and into the store. This is NOT a good sign. I’m starting to get cranky. I just want to go home!

Well, I’ve got some other departments in the store to hit. First, housewares, oh and I need some toothpaste.

I head back to the front of the store. No change!

I get a phone call from my sister-in-law. “What are you doing?”

“I’m at Wal-Mart.”

“Wal-Mart?,” she responds. “What did you need that you needed to go out on these roads, young lady?”

Nothing. I’m stuck here.

She is trying not to laugh. Then she goes on. “We’ll come and get you,” she offers.

I tell her, no, she and my brother need to stay with their kids.

My brother, John, calls to see if I made it home. I tell him no and explain.

“What? I called that one! I knew those trucks were going to be in trouble on that road.”

I tell him, my friend is coming to get me. He left at 6:30 p.m. but I haven’t heard from him. He is trying to find a route in. It’s now 8:30 p.m.

My friend calls and tells me he has tried three routes. He is trying to get here, but is failing.

It’s OK. I’m fine. (But I really want to go home!)

My phone rings again. It’s my mom, making sure I’m OK. I tell her, yes, but the road is still closed.

It’s 9:30 p.m., and now I really, really want to go home!

My friend calls again at 9:45 p.m. He can park on Beaver Creek Road, walk a mile up along state Route 14 and we’ll walk back together. That’s as close as he can get because of emergency personnel blocking off so many roads. He sure did put a smile on my face when he came walking through the Wal-Mart parking lot!

I locked my car and we started off on the adventure home.

We walked the mile back to his truck, and I’m not even kidding, I think we drove through a farm road to get home. I still don’t think it was an actual street! I didn’t care at that point. At least I was no longer stuck at the store.

A little after 11 p.m., I got home. How I would like to stay home from work tomorrow morning! (That’s not going to happen! I have the rest of my deadline duties for the paper to do for the week.)

What a welcome relief just to be home, I decide.

I get up early the next morning and ask my brother for a ride. He laughs and asks, “What did time did you make it home?”

“Let’s just say it was just a bit off from my estimate of 6:30 p.m.!”

Kristy Foster Seachrist lives in Columbiana County raising sheep and horses with her husband, Kurt. She earned her degree from Youngstown State University and has worked in both print and broadcast journalism.
Kristy Foster Seachrist
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