It’s Time to Play WHEEL. OF. (MIS)FORTUNE!

Mar. 20, 2014 @ 11:59 AM

People often ask me where I “come up with” the ideas for my columns. I don’t have to “come up with” anything, because my life is naturally filled with material from the moment I get out of bed. I’m a woman, a daughter, a sister, a mother, a teacher, a dog-owner, a consumer, a driver -- combine that with the fact that I am a gal for whom the simplest things become complicated, bizarre, hilarious, dangerous and unheard-of events, and you’ll begin to get it. My life just kind of writes itself. Watch:

It’s Thursday, March 6. My house is up for sale (I can’t talk about it without getting choked up, but downsizing is the right thing to do, blah blah) and I’m driving away from school around 3:30, checking a phone message. It says, “Hello, we’re just confirming your house showing for 1:30 today and another for 3:00 tomorrow.” 
This is never supposed to happen, not unless they talk to me first. Hence, there were dishes in the sink, sheets for the dogs on top of beds, bills and newspapers on the kitchen table, dog bowls and beds on the floor, no lights on, and I could continue, but I won’t because it makes me cringe. 
(Luckily, my neighbor had come over to walk the dogs for me during that exact time, so the prospective buyers were not blasted into permanent hearing impairment and possible aneurysm the millisecond that they opened the door, but that was the only positive.) 
Interestingly, we never heard from those folks again. But, there was another showing scheduled for Friday, so chin up, right? 
And, that night the ice began to fall from the heavens. I was awakened at 2:15 a.m. by what I thought was the clatter of someone really incompetent breaking into the house, but turned out to be just another of the pines crashing to the forest floor. At 2:19, the power went out. No lights, no heat, no phone. It was 28 degrees outside ... and 13 degrees inside ... by morning.
As the adorable pitter-patter of tiny ice pellets continued, I took the fastest shower on record with the hot water left in the tank, dressed and applied make-up by candlelight (more frightening for the students than for me, to be honest), flew around readying the house for the 3 p.m. showing (positive the power would be back on) then dried and styled my hair using the heater in the car, and headed off to school, following my neighbor who’s also a teacher.
The first two routes I tried, down long, winding country roads, were blocked by downed trees and/or power lines -- out in the country, apparently, trees and power lines commit suicide at an alarming rate upon hearing the word “ice” -- so I was frantically calling school to tell them I’d be a tad late; they said no problem, so is everyone else.
The third route looked like it might be a winner. Then, up ahead, a tree fell across the road. Lindsey kept going, seeing room to get around it on the right-side berm, although it was pretty steeply slanted ditch. She made it just fine, but she must have joggled the power lines tangled in the tree, because they fell on my car as I came through, wrapped around my driver’s side mirror, ripped that sucker right off, and banged on down the length of the car.  I slammed on the brakes, leaning sideways in the ditch, expecting to be sizzled like a backyard steak, and in the last few seconds of my life, fervently wishing I’d chosen the medical profession, or insurance, or maybe police work -- you know, something not as high-risk as teaching.
Lindsey jumped from her car and came running back - in the frigid, still-pouring sleet - and being nothing if not self-sacrificing, I yelled, “Stop! Stay back! Power lines!”
She said that they’d fallen behind my car, and after ascertaining that I was uncooked, she proceeded to wrap my whole mirror assembly (still attached and dangling by the electrical cord) in a towel, which we affixed against the car with my window, and veeeerrrry slooowly continued to school. (We are both all about “doing it for the children”, but hey, no praise necessary.)
The traffic lights were mostly out, and lines of stopped traffic were 1- to 2-miles long, but I was warm, my hair hadn’t gotten wet ... and not to belabor the obvious, I wasn’t dead.
As I arrived at school, the scheduling service called - our showing had been called off because of the weather. Whatever. At least I was at work, where I could fill young minds with knowledge and nurture a new generation. We’d been there about two hours before school was canceled and everyone was sent home.
Three-hundred-fifty dollars later ... I’m applying to Nationwide.

Vicki Wentz is a local writer, teacher and speaker.  Readers may contact her at, or by visiting her website at