on two different kinds of fog, and the terror of commuting in one of them

Sometimes, a little fog in the morning can be a magical thing: the sun is just beginning to rise, everything is kissed with pinks and golds and it seems that any minute you might pass through the mists and into another world woven entirely of light.

Other times, it’s raining. And cold. There’s icy slush on the ground, near-freezing rain coming down, and the fog is less magical and more malevolent. You can see your fog lights but you can’t actually see the road. The gates to the world you might pass into are, you fear, marked by the screaming cacophony of skidding tires and twisting metal.

This morning was the second type. Between the holidays and the snow we’ve had recently, I haven’t been to the office since December 23rd. Generally this is a good thing, as I dislike my commute and enjoy working at home. I know, though, that I’m not the sort of person who can work from home 100% – I need to see people occasionally, to talk to people in person and walk around and maintain connections. Even introverts like me need some kind of connection – for myself, it’s because I’ll plunge into a spiral of self-loathing and depression if I’m left inside my own head for too long. Seeing people and having to be professional and put on my “game face” is a good way, I’ve found, to keep that from happening.

So I was actually kind of looking forward to going in today. I got up, even had the wherewithal to make coffee, which I never do. Got groomed, put all my stuff together, and headed out the door.

I’d seen the fog warnings, but the parking lot of my condo complex didn’t look too bad; I was more concerned with the icy slush on the ground than with any fog. I was a little apprehensive about driving, since my “low tire pressure” light (the only car I’ve owned before this one I got in June was from 1996, so I didn’t even know low tire pressure indicators existed) has been on since those subzero temps we had on Saturday. But the manual indicated that cold weather could trigger the light to turn on even if the tire pressure is actually fine, and Matt reminded me that you can’t measure the pressure with cold tires, so I’d have to drive for a while before I could really determine whether the tires need attention.

I figured, what better way to warm the tires up than a 50 minute commute? So off I went. I got about a mile into the drive and two things happened: the fog thickened considerably, and I realized I’d forgotten my lunch.

Dammit.

I turned around when I could see a driveway to pull into, drove home, and grabbed my lunch. Okay. Back on the road.

Made it past the one-mile/heavier-fog checkpoint and actually got about 8 miles out before realizing there was no possible way I’d be able to make the entire commute. The fog was so thick that I either couldn’t see the road or, when I could, couldn’t tell whether the wetness on it was rain-shine or ice-shine. The tires felt like they were guttering a little – again, couldn’t tell whether that was a tire pressure issue, or caused by the condition of the roads, or caused by my extreme paranoia about driving with a warning light on in bad conditions.

I decided that I’d rather not die today, and crawled along the road in the hopes of finding a driveway or a road to turn left at, so I could head back home. It’s tough to turn left when you can’t see a damn thing, but I could see oncoming headlights about 10-15 feet out so I figured as long as I kept a careful eye out, I’d be okay. Nobody was going fast this morning.

Finally, I saw a road sign and had an opening, so I turned. Since going generally left would take me back in the direction of home anyway, I elected to stay on that road rather than turning around and going back the way I’d come. Turns out the road I’d chosen was covered in slushy, crunchy ice. OH GOODIE. Thank goodness I had navigation running or I’d never have been able to see my way home from that unfamiliar road.

The rain started coming down much harder than it had been. More than ever, I knew that turning around was a good choice.

I got home safely, parked with relief, and came inside. I called my boss to apologize for being so remote and told her to be careful if she decides to get on the road, because I’m not sure what the fog is like where she is up north, but the Farmington Valley is scary.

I’m glad to be home and safe. I’m not glad that after the 20 minutes of driving I did, my low tire pressure light is still on. I’m not sure if the tires warmed up enough for me to decide that it’s actual low pressure and not just a trick of the cold. But I’ll let Matt figure that out.

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One thought on “on two different kinds of fog, and the terror of commuting in one of them

  1. Probably wouldn’t surprise you that I love any kind of fog. The thrill of the unknown, even when it is hiding what you already know is there. I want to get lost in the sweet grey nothingness.

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