An icy victory
November 18, 2014
When the cold front hit last week, I thought I was well-prepared for anything as I drove from my home in Carbondale to The Aspen Times office. Wednesday was the day the temperature dropped dramatically into the teens with the humidity hovering around 90 percent.
By 6 p.m., the five doors on my Nissan Quest van were frozen solid. Not what I wanted to find as I left work hungry and anxious to get home. Worse, the doors were so frozen that there was absolutely no give on any of them. Even worse, I actually had some de-icer with me, but it was inside my frozen car. Brilliant move from an ice newbie and a lesson learned.
There were still a half dozen people working in our office, but nobody knew what to do other than pour hot water on the doors and hope for the best. I know that hot water can actually do more damage when the temps are really cold, but the combination of hunger, desperation and futility led me to give it a try.
I found a gallon container and filled it up with the hottest water I could produce in our office kitchen, which I would describe as warm enough to wash your hands with but not even close to being hot enough to make a cup of tea.
With my co-workers wishing me good luck, I confidently poured the water around the driver's side door with no luck at all. Fine; I figured it would take a couple gallons to accomplish my goal, but I was wrong. After the third trip back into the office for more water, even my co-workers stopped offering encouragement as they could see the futility clearer than I could through my desperation.
After 10 trips, I realized my feet were getting really cold. I must have been letting some of the water pour off the car doors and onto my shoes, further proof that my cold-weather skills were in need of honing.
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I started asking people getting into their parked cars if they had any suggestions, and the common answer was, "Have you tried pouring hot water on the doors?"
I just about lost it I approached a taxi driver to ask his opinion on what to do. As I asked, he took a call from — I'm assuming — his boss. He indicated he would just be a moment on the phone, but he got into a two-minute loop ramble about his tires, repeating the same thing over and over as I stood outside his vehicle, cold and anxious. Yes, he had new tires. Yes, it was still slippery. Yes, he would be careful. Not once, not twice, but during the third round of this same conversation, he finally leaned out his window and said, "Sorry, don't know what to tell you."
Thanks so much.
As I approached the 20th round of pouring water on the doors, I prayed out loud for help. Pretty sure the guy walking by as I prayed was chuckling, but it worked.
Too bad there was nobody filming me as I'm sure this final act was hilarious to see. I grabbed one of the sliding side doors and gave it one last solid tug. In an instant, the door handle snapped off, I fell backwards onto my behind with the handle in my hand, but in a merciful move by some higher power, the door also opened.
Cold, tired and now with a wet rear, I triumphantly started my car and announced my victory to my co-workers, holding my broken door handle like my red badge of courage.