When Bruce and I were first married, his parents gave us a used car as a wedding present.
We lived in Illinois at the time.
Bruce already owned the '67 Dodge Coronet. We called that one "the snowmobile" because it had such a powerful engine that it could literally plow through huge Midwestern snow drifts.
This second used car had once been a company car for Commonwealth Edison, the electric company.
I used it to get to my job, twelve miles down the road where I worked as a secretary.
Being a California girl, I hadn't had any experience driving in Illinois winters.
But I was pretty confident that when you hit a patch of snow or ice you should stomp on the brakes and wildly turn the wheel away from the thing you're careening toward.
So one day, as I drove down a stretch of icy country asphalt, I spied up ahead some sort of work vehicle parked along the side of the road.
I vigorously applied the brakes and—you guessed it—began to slide to the right, directly toward the truck.
Well, wouldn't you twist the wheel to the left as hard and fast as you could?
Isn't it a curious phenomenon how times like these make your mind speed up? I recalled the entire driver's education lecture I heard back in high school about how to handle a car when it gets into a skid.
(This was before anti-lock brakes.)
- First you were supposed to not panic.
- Then, you were supposed to gently and quickly pump the brakes
- while turning the wheel in the direction of the skid until the tires once more gained traction and you could safely steer out of danger.
So, I did all these things.
Didn't panic. Pumped. Steered...
..after I'd already slid into the work truck.
Incidentally, the work truck was a Commonwealth Edison vehicle.
That truck was like a HumVe. Not a scratch, not a dent or ding.
But along the right side of my little used car was a scratch the length of Long Island.
The moral of the story:
Prepare for a crisis by practicing the crisis.
The next time I encountered icy roads, you'd better believe I was already prepared to: remain calm, gently tap the brakes, steer toward the skid.
So, whether you're fresh out of Seminary, or Med School, or you're thinking about becoming the first perfect parent...you don't know nothin' until you apply what you've learned in the real world.
"Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment." Barry LePatner