James Lileks
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That was quite a one-two punch. OK, first off, we’re going to grind your Vikings hopes to sharp grit and pour it in your bed. Then we’re going to have a storm at rush hour that slows traffic so horribly you start to envy the people who went through the Donner Pass. At least they had company and something to eat. Same things, but you get the idea.

Close to home I passed two cars stuck in the snow. Of course you stop. It’s the Minnesota thing to do. Loons appear and pluck out your eyes if you don’t.

Time to push. But first: “Do you have any grit we could put under the wheel, so it could spit back in my face and make me look like I stuck my mug in a beehive? No? So we’re gritless? OK. Floor it!”

This had the usual effect of polishing the wheel ruts so they glowed like ceramic. Ideally the car’s wheels spin down and find some traction on the pavement, whereupon the car shoots out of the grip of the drift and bolts straight into a tree. The airbags deploy and you knock the snow from your hands: My work here is done.

Eventually a young fellow came by, saw our plight, and got out to help. That made three of us, and we got the car rocking. Push! Breathe. Push! Breathe. Push! Breathe. “It’s crowning,” someone shouted, and then the car was free.

We shoveled out the second car and got it out without much difficulty, since it weighed about 12 pounds. But just to make sure, we lightened the load by removing the garage door opener, which made it even easier to push out. I told everyone that this would’ve made a great newspaper column, but it wasn’t colorful enough, so, like, thanks a lot.

But! The young man who’d stopped to help couldn’t get his car out of the drift, because 9 feet of snow had fallen while we labored. Ah, that’s just the ironic detail I needed. Thanks. We got him out, and by now we were all feeling like gladiators who have dispatched a hundred foes, waving our arms to taunt the Minions of Borealis.

It was a fine Minnesota moment. Instant fellowship, determination, foxhole camaraderie, victory, the warm feeling you get when you help someone, and the cold feeling you get because you were wearing thin office shoes and four of your toes have not reported in since 3 p.m.

Fast forward a few hours: I was back out, and had put the car in a drift like a brick thrown in a pot of chili. I rocked it out my own and turned on Nicollet. It’s a hill. Ahead, in the middle of the lane, there was a guy on a bike. Sure, he was getting blasted in the face by the blowing snow, but in a way, I envied him; no one has to wait for someone to come along to help get your bike out of a snowbank.

Crawling at hands-and-knees pace so I wouldn’t hit him, I lost momentum. I was sure that I was going to slide all the way down the hill backward. The biker waved me around him — oh, would if I could, friend — and then I’m cresting the hill and all’s well.

By the time I got home, I was bursting with confidence. There’s a certain skill to going up an inclined driveway, fishtailing, and putting the car right in the bay without hitting either side of the door. I feel like I landed a jet on a carrier at night. Like putting the ball in the end zone!

Sorry if that reference seems a bit obscure now.

james.lileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 • Twitter: @Lileks • facebook.com/james.lileks