A McDonalds Saves Our Lives

We went on a road trip for Thanksgiving, and because I like the idea of keeping my sanity, I went to the library for an audiobook of the 5th Percy Jackson book to keep the kids occupied on the drive. They all love the stories, but they really like the chapter titles, things like “I Play DodgeBall With Cannibals.”

Also because we like the idea of keeping our sanity, we decided to leave for home on Sunday at 5:30 in the morning, knowing that I-95 does its annual impression of a parking lot for most of the daylight hours on Thanksgiving weekend. We actually got out the door at 6AM, and although it was drizzly it was fairly warm, maybe in the 50s. I plugged in Percy Jackson, turned on the heater, and away we drove.

The sun rose somewhere over the Bronx, and by Stamford it was light enough to see the true ugliness of the view from the highway (I wasn’t kidding in “Winter Branches” when God and Reflection are debating whether Stamford or Bridgeport from I-95 is the ugliest place on Earth) and then around New Haven we encountered the first accident. It didn’t slow down traffic, and it didn’t look serious, but it was sobering.

After New Haven, we encountered another one, right in the middle of the highway, and then further up the highway were flares around debris in the roadway. At Meriden there were several emergency vehicles on an overpass. By the time we got to Hartford, we’d passed almost a dozen accidents, some single-car.

I don’t remember whether it was me or my Patient Husband who first said, “I wonder if this stuff is ice.”

Black ice. Black ice. You can’t see it on the roadway, so you’re not being careful, but your tires figure out it’s there. I put my hand on the window and it was really cold. Next I reached for the iPhone. 32 degrees.

Black ice.

My Patient Husband said, “The overpasses. That’s why there were accidents on the overpasses.”

I said, “Not this exit, but the next one. Get off there. There’s a McDonalds. We’ll wait half an hour because it’s only going to get warmer.”

The kids didn’t realize what was going on. We got off the highway and gave them McDonalds breakfast sandwiches and let them run crazy in the Playplace. We waited until it got a bit warmer, and then we got back on the roadway. No more accidents. But the antenna and mirrors still wore a thin sheet of ice.

I know Fast Food Nation claimed eating at McDonalds is going to kill us all, but just this once, I was thinking more like a Percy Jackson chapter: A McDonalds Saves Our Lives.


  1. Pat

    When we were driving from New Jersey to Indiana, we had a flat tire right by the exit. When we got off the highway, there was a tire repair place . . . and a McDonald’s. We were all sick of McD by that that time (it was day three on the road) and had pretty much decided we didn’t want to see the inside of another one for at least six months, but at that moment it was Providential, literally.

    We thanked our guardian angels for both places, and when we got to our destination we didn’t go to McD’s for months. But isn’t it something how good they can look when you need them!

    1. Jane

      I can see where McD would get to be just a bit too much after three days! But hey, having one right where you get a flat tire is a great reason to eat there. 🙂

      About six years ago, I knew I’d hit a parenting low when I brought my kids to the Burger King near the karate studio in between two kids’ lessons and prayed, quite honestly, “Thank you God for Burger King.” 🙂

  2. Elizabeth D.

    I’m glad you are all safe! How scary! I laughed when you called 50 degrees “fairly warm,” though. I consider that fairly frigid!

  3. mrudegeair (@mrudegeair)

    McD gets a bad rap (or is a bad rep?), but visiting in moderation isn’t such a bad thing. I’m glad it was there to distract you kids and get them out of the car for a bit.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  4. cricketB

    McDonald’s saved my sanity for two years of between playschool and pre-school music.

    Black ice is nasty. Every few autumns I spend an evening kicking myself for not anticipating it, usually after a beautiful day and on a well-travelled route in the early evening. I’ve been lucky so far, only needing one alignment. Very glad our city is very pro-active with the salt brine, but then we forget what’s outside.