“I’m halfway there,” I said to myself just outside of the school district 54 office building on Schaumburg Road. By that time my fingers were starting to go numb. On that day it was blistering cold, somewhere between ten and twenty degrees above zero. I had forgotten to wear gloves that day, and I had no cash in my wallet to buy a hand warmer from the local Walgreens. It really didn’t matter though; I had worn what I call the “turtle suit,” a green heavy down coat. As if things weren’t bad enough that day, I violently cursed the fact that my cell phone was at home and not in my pocket. Now I bet you’re wondering how I got myself into this mess in the first place.
It was either late winter or early spring of what was proving to be the worst winter I had seen in my life. It was 3:30 PM, and class had just let out. I was rushing to the science wing of my high school. I was in a hurry to meet Mr. Gross to sign up for his session of LCAP. I don’t remember what LCAP stood for, but I think it was something along the lines of, “Local Cougars Actively Participating.” The irony of LCAP was that it was forced “volunteering” and required for graduation. I got there just in time to catch him before he left the office. I asked him if there were any slots left for his LCAP and, he said, “You’re lucky there is only one slot left.” After hearing that I got the last slot, I let out a sigh of relief and filled out the paper work to make it official. Then Mr. Gross said something that would ring in my ears for the next hour: “How do you plan on getting home?”
To this I replied, “I’m going to take the 4:30 activity bus.” After that, I walked to the west side of the school where the activity bus would pick up students. When I had gotten to the waiting area that was located between the auditorium and the pool, I waited for the 4:30 bus to come. I did not mind waiting for the bus; I had my IPOD, which at the time had a full charge. I searched through my pocket for my cell phone to check what time it was, only to realize that it wasn’t there. The clock on my IPOD was always off by half an hour or more due to the battery being dead every other day. What I did not know at the time was that there was no 4:30 bus that day.
When the time rolled around to 4:45, I asked two other students who were sitting nearby if there was a 4:30 bus that day, and they said no. After I found out that there was no 4:30 bus, I made the second mistake of the day (The first was forgetting my cell phone), walking out the door and not down the hallway. It was freezing that day, and my trek home had only just begun. Things got worse when I got to the sidewalks on Plum Grove Road; they were not shoveled, and the snow was two feet deep in some places. Ten minutes later, although it felt like an hour, I reached the Chinese Garden, and it started snowing. After it started snowing, I decided to dig around for my IPOD and a set of headphones to distract myself from the thousands of tiny razor blades cutting into my face. I put on something fitting for the situation, “Indestructible” by Disturbed. When the music started up, I truly felt indestructible, except for my lungs, which felt like they were going to collapse. My fingers and toes had started to get a little numb, but I didn’t care; I had my music going. When I had my music going, the rest of the world seemed to vanish; nothing else seemed to matter except for where I was going, even if it was in a circle.
After another twenty minutes, I got to the district 54 office building, which marked the half-way point of my journey. Little did I know that the worst was yet to come. After crossing Schaumburg Road at the light, I believed that I had truly found a frozen patch of hell. What I saw was a labyrinth of three-foot-tall walls of snow that formed channels in the sidewalk. After another fifteen minutes of navigating the labyrinth, I decided that I would make a cover story as to why it took me so long to get home. The story was that I had gotten off at the wrong bus stop somewhere around Crystal Court, which was less than a mile away. After all, I didn’t want my parents freaking out that I had walked a little under two miles in the snow. By the time I had gotten to the corner of East Beech and Summit, the battery on my IPOD gave out. It was ironic that the last words that came out of the headphones were, “You’re gonna go far kid,” which was true; I had walked a little over a mile through the snow.
“Almost there, almost there,” I said to myself as I continued to navigate the white labyrinth of channels in the sidewalk. My target was in sight; I could have walked down the street the rest of the way but it was slick with snow and ice, and I did not want to risk being run over. So I continued to navigate the labyrinth, only this time the walls were four to five feet tall, and the channels had a few “road blocks.” I had no problem getting around the small blocks by cautiously venturing into the street. The only hard “road block” was at the cul-de-sac, a mountain of snow ten to fifteen feet tall formed by the snow plows. With each step up the mountain my feet sank in about a foot. When I got to the top I stopped to catch my breath. At this point I was half tempted to take off my coat; my chest felt like it was on fire. I decided to go part way by unzipping my coat a little, just enough to vent the hot air but not enough to leave me frozen on the sidewalk. With every last bit of strength I had left in my legs, I ran the rest of the way home humming the lyrics of “Indestructible.” Panting like a dog, I opened the front door thinking to myself, “It’s over, I’m home at last,” as I walked up the stairs to my room. When I got to my room, I took off my coat. I was boiling; I thought that if I put an ice cube on my skin it would turn to steam in a flash. I plugged IPOD into a charger and a set of speakers. After it had charged up enough to use the controls, I opened the Youtube application and searched for “Through the Fire and the Flames” by Dragonforce. After what I had been through, I did not even want to think about ice and snow. As the music started up, I walked over to turn on the fan and sit down directly under it. Then my mom came into my room saying that a friend of mine had called. So I called my friend and the conversation went like this.
He asked, “Hey man how have you been?”
I screamed back, “I just walked home! How do you think?”
To which he asked, “Why did you walk home?”
I replied in shame, “I thought I was going to take the 4:30 bus, when it didn’t come I said, ‘to hell with this I’m walking.’ ”
He laughed at me, “There was no 4:30 bus today,” as if I should have known all along.
Wanting to keep the conversation slightly clean, I used a funny little saying that I remembered from a movie I had seen, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and said, “How the cuss was I supposed to know there was no 4:30 bus today?”
Then the bell rang for dinner, and I presented my cover story as to why it took so long to get home. To this very day, my parents have no idea that I had walked home that day. For all they know the lie I fed them was the true story, and the story I just told was just a “What if?” scenario to use as an idea for a paper or speech. To this day, I do a double check to see if I have my cell phone before leaving the house, to make sure that I never have to repeat the events of this story. Also, I should tell you that this was the clean version of the story; I was swearing every few feet.
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