It fucking snowed in Denver in September this year. I don’t live in the mountains, but I know what that’s like.
A few years ago, we put on a 3-day conference in Denver in March. First two days it was 70-degrees and sunny. On the third day, the clouds rolled in — it began to snow… and snow, and snow.
People were scrambling out of the hotel like rats. I had to stay till 12:30 p.m. when the conference ended.
The airport website lit up with red ink over dozens of cancelled flights — except mine. It was the only Southwest flight. Maybe those fuckers have a magic formula for flying out of a blizzard?
I called. Non-refundable ticket. If the flight is not cancelled, I had to be on it or buy another ticket. Fuck.
No cabs would leave the downtown hotel. No Ubers or Lyfts were on the road.
“I know a guy who will try to get you to the airport,” the concierge said. “He’s not an official Uber or anything, but he’s willing to drive.”
That’s right people — there was a driver who was not “official enough” for Uber.
There was a woman on my same flight.
“What the hell,” she shrugged. We took our chances together.
I was hoping for a 4-wheel drive jeep or something that could roll through the snow. We got some cheap ass Korean knock off with bald summer tires.
Haaziq was driving.
“Cash only,” he said. “There’s an ATM right there.” He walked me right to it. It felt a little like an unarmed, unaggravated robbery.
I took out $80, and got in. We had 4 hours to go 25 miles to the airport. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Roads downtown were not bad — lots of snow on the sides but the tire tracks still hit the black pavement.
“This is nothing,” Haaziq said. “I take people up in the moutains in 10-feet of snow.”
“In this car?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “It just rides on top of the snow.”
The woman and I looked at each other just at the second we realized we in a broken down Kia with a crazy fucker named Haaziq. I don’t want to be a racist or anything, but we would have felt safer with a guy named Bob, or Hector or Jesus.
At mile 10, we were on the highway, I think. You couldn’t tell where the road was, but since there were no traffic lights or stop signs, I’m guessing it was the highway.
We were moving at 10 miles an hour and following the wheel tracks of bigger trucks. At mile 11, we started to see cars stuck in the snow off to the side of the road.
At mile 12, traffic stopped.
“Don’t worry,” Haaziq said. “It will open up. We will make it.”
An hour passed, and we moved about 300 yards.
Haaziq jumped out of the car and trotted toward a bridge.
“You are not leaving, are you,” the woman yelled after him as his shape disappeared in the snow.
Then he stopped and turned his back toward traffic.
“I guess he had to pee,” I said.
5 minutes later, Haaziq is back in the car. “It was too cold,” he said. “I couldn’t go.”
We could see the airport hotels along the freeway. The woman and I get on our phones to see if there are any rooms available. Nothing.
The only rooms are back at the conference hotel downtown.
“It looks like we may have to spend the night in this car,” Haaziq said.
The woman looked at me, she looked at Haaziq, and she started furiously tapping on her phone like she was repelling down this mountain and that phone was her only rope. My battery was dead.
We moved another 500 yards and stopped.
Haaziq jumped out of the car and trotted toward another bridge crossing his legs and holding his breath like a baby with a half-full diaper.
“He did it again,” she said. “I can’t believe he got out of the car again.”
The road opened up. Cars and trucks were blowing their horns behind us.
Haaziq jumped in. Our phones said our flight was still on, but there was no way we would make it in time.
“Let’s just get back to our hotel downtown,” the woman told Haaziq.
“No problem,” he said. Fucking liar.
And we sat in the snow as more and more piled down on everything around us.
Suddenly a garbage truck created a new lane on the left side of the road. It didn’t have a plow, the driver just rolled over and left a fresh set of tracks. I have no idea if it was even part of the road or just the grass off the side.
“Do you feel lucky,” Haaziq squealed as he cut off a line of cars and rolled over the drfited snow between tire tracks. I could feel the car body lifting off the ground and compacting the snow that was deeper than the wheel wells. Only one wheel had any traction and we slid and slipped into the tire tracks of the truck with horns blowing and fingers waving in our face.
We rode at 25 miles an hour for maybe a mile. Then Haaziq cut all the way over to the right, just eeking past the cars stuck in the inner lanes and started going up what could have been an off ramp. Or it could have been just a hill between a road and the freeway.
A line of cars followed us, and Haaziq plopped off the hill and onto another road. We either rolled over the curb, or it was the start of the Donner Party — and the first victim was in that pile of snow.
Half a mile down the road was an entrance to a gated community. A dude in a little bobcat was sitting on the side of the road, and his roads were clean down to the black asphalt…
“What are you doing,” the woman said. “We can’t go in there.”
“No problems,” Haaziq said. “I know the code.”
And he did.
We rolled through that neighborhood and back onto an entryway to the freeway. No traffic heading back downtown. The skies lightened, the snow stopped falling, and 30 minutes later we rolled right back to the concierge where we started.
I was never so happy to pay for a 4-hour ride to nowhere in my life.
I gave Haaziq the full $80 I had, said goodbye to that woman and headed for the bar to see how many rounds of drinks I could pound before my room was ready.
Four days later I was able to get on a Southwest flight and head home. No charge. An hour before we got back to the hotel, they cancelled the flight.