slippery business

Feb 16th

Temperature: -1

Weather: freezing mist

At 06.40 this morning, I got a message from my flatmate warning me that the pavements were slippery cos it has been raining and that she’d fallen over on her way to the bus. I was so disappointed it wasn’t a message from a student cancelling a class so I quickly forgot about it and carried on getting ready.

On stepping out of the building with my other flatmate at 07.15, I quickly realised what she’d meant as my foot disappeared out from under me. We both flashed each other a look, as our second step sends us both wind milling our arms. So she wasn’t just being dozy on her way to the bus, it really was slippery. I screeched in alarm as I rounded the corner and slid 3 feet. The pavements were covered in invisible, yet lethal ice, as it had indeed been raining and the temperature was sitting below zero. I decided to cross the road, assuming it would have been treated, but met the same surface. On the other side, the pavement offered me the same fun, so I opted for the grass, knowing there was plenty of frozen dog poo waiting for me, but wondering what would be worse: falling on my face/back/laptop, hurting my face/back/laptop or going to my next four classes with dog poo on my shoes. I pondered this as picked my way through the frozen grass, surrounded by sounds of people scraping invisible, but thick ice off their cars that was stopping them getting in. I then crossed the parking area, thinking as this was gravelled, it would be safer, but no, even harder to traverse. I was only half way to the bus stop as I watched it pulling away, but decided now was not the time to be rushing. I eventually arrived along with a few others slidding along with their arms out, like children playing aeroplanes.

I fired off a quick text to my flatmate, thanking her for the warning and reporting my perilous journey to the bus stop. What awaited me when I got off the bus was worse. I was greeted with a scene of chaos as people tried to navigate the sloping footpath once getting off the bus. I saw one girl just stand and let the ice take her down it. I decided carrying my laptop was too much of a risk, so went through the bush, grabbing it for support as I made my way through to the very smoothly iced car park. I saw a colleague arriving at the company skating her way across the carpark and immediately started to dread crossing it. One foot on, I skidded a foot to my right, then back the other way and went through the flower bed on the other side. Inside was a group of teachers all sharing stories of watching people go flying on their way to work.

Worse was to come when I made my way to my second class. First I had to change from the bus to the tram. I had thought that now, after 9, everything would have been treated and running smoothly. Wrong. Still very icy. Still impossible to see. I stepped off the tram very cautiously, as I’d received another message from my flatmate reporting she’s seen a man step off the tram and go straight down. As I got off I saw a man shovelling gravel onto the platform. This didn’t make it any less slippery, but incredibly painful if you DID go down!

I watched a woman step onto the pavement after crossing the road hit the deck. The woman next to her did nothing to help her, but I realised she was struggling to keep upright. I crossed the road dreading the slippery ascending and descending footpath ahead of me. As I started to ascend the slope I heard a thus and a scream and turned to see a woman on her back. Yikes! I looked around hoping someone would rush to her aid. No, only me around. I can’t help her, I thought wanting to continue on my way. How selfish I thought, battling with my conscious: she was a big woman, if I get to her without falling, how am I going to get her to her feet?? How am I going to do that in Slovak?? Oh please, get up!! I started to edge my way back down the slope to her, and to my relief she was rolling onto her front and back on her feet before I’d got too far. Phew!

I made it to the top of the slope and then slid my way across a grassy area, somewhat alarmed how grass could be so slippery! I whimpered my way, skidding and sliding at every opportunity, to the primary school I was heading to. I descended a slope adopting the technique I’d seen earlier, of standing at the top and letting gravity do its job. By the time I reached my class, I was thoroughly exhausted!

It seems the universe gave me a little break after my morning ordeal. I came out of the class, and it was still slippery! At 11.30!!! But, hallelujah, My next class was cancelled! Thank god I didn’t have to attempt another journey other than back to school, in the centre and well-treated pavements!

Since writing this blog, I found out that the number of car accidents that morning was double and 200 people were admitted to hospital with injuries or broken bones! Wow Slovakia!

About graceeliz

Many years ago I met someone who said: "Don't know what you want to do with your life? Teach English as a foreign language, then you can travel the world. Best thing I've ever done!" That got me thinking. Research was done. Course booked in Barcelona. Certificate gained. 5 years living in Barcelona working as an English teacher. Done! Where to next? Check out my blog! 5 years in Barcelona, 6 months in Slovakia, 2 years in Australia... and now I am home in Somerset. We'll see if I can stop the itch in my feet...

Posted on February 20, 2011, in Slovakia Stories.... Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Just read this after sending you an email. I never had to cope with that, must surely be very unusual and I REALLY HOPE you won’t have to experience that again!!You write really well Grace, I can really see all this and you manage to give it humour as well

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