Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The Roads in Michigan were Awful

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When we arrived at the airport in Beijing, everybody tried to tell me the information I already knew. Our flight was delayed 5 hours.

But what can you do? You can’t drive back to the hotel that is 1 hour away and wait there. You can’t drive to a friend’s house and hang out with them for a few hours and then ask them to drive the four of you and 2 1/2 weeks worth of stinking, dirty luggage back to the airport. Because even if you had such a friend in Beijing, they wouldn’t be your friend much longer.

So we checked in. We were told about the delay once more. And then we waited. And waited. And waited.

Even though they try, the airlines can’t make time stop. Eventually we boarded the plane. And 12 hours laters we were landing in Detroit. Knowing that we would miss our connection, I called the airline while still in China and asked them to switch us to the next flight Wednesday morning, which they did without any problem.

But then, when we arrived in Detroit, I was told something I didn’t know yet. The early morning Wednesday flight had been cancelled. And we were booked on a much later flight.

So we stood in a line in sub-zero temperatures and waited for a taxi to take us to the closest hotel with a room, which turned out to be 20 minutes away. We settled down at 1am. We slept the best we could, combining our jet late with the frustrations of travel. If nothing else, we stayed warm.

The next morning we enjoyed a big, warm American breakfast. And we contemplated our options. We could wait until 5:30pm. Maybe the plane would take off. Maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe it gets delayed. Maybe it departs on time.

Waiting would be easy. All we would need to do was it. And then if the flight does not take off on time, we would sit some more. And eventually we would have our triumphant return at the airport. Late that night. Or the next day. Maybe.

Or we could rent a car and drive.

So we drove.

The roads in Michigan were awful. There was an inch of ice on the road. Not just side roads, but the interstates. On the northbound side (why would anyone want to travel north in that kind of weather?) we saw a portion where the interstate was closed due to a traffic accident. At times I could drive 40mph, but most of the time it was less.

As I gripped the steering wheel waiting for the car to start sliding towards the 18 wheeler next to me, I kept questioned whether I had made the right decision. Had I messed up by putting my wife, my 12 year old son, and my newly adopted son in a Honda Accord to drive through historically bad weather?

After nearly 2 hours of wondering and doubting and driving incredibly slow, we had the privilege of crossing the border into Ohio. Apparently the salt works better in Ohio. Apparently the snow plows are magical. Because suddenly the roads cleared. The ice was gone.

We started making reasonable progress. And sooner than if we had waited for a plane, we found ourselves home. We found ourselves in the arms of those we had missed so much.

Why do I tell you all of this? Because it’s a story. Not the kind of story that sells novels or makes for box office smashing opening weekends. But it is an incredible story, because we lived it. It isn’t made up. It is something we did. It involves choices we made. It is the stuff of our lives.

Would the story have been better if we had waited at the airport? Maybe not. Is the ending any different because we chose to drive home? No. Either way we eventually arrive home.

What makes the story great is that we lived it. It is our story. It happened because we were out there doing stuff. We were living. We didn’t choose to live someone else’s story. We didn’t choose to do the same thing as everybody else.

We did something. And now we have a story to tell.

My point is simple. Turn off the TV. Get out of the house and go and do something. Go live your own story.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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4 Replies

  1. Yes, the wonderful Michigan snowpocalypse. Glad you made it home safely.

  2. It was striking how much better the roads were in Ohio. Not sure what is going on up there with the DOT.

  3. I live 10 min from the Detroit airport! Yea, we got slammed with snow.

  4. You know, I remember the same thing traveling to my brother’s in South Carolina. Roads were nasty until we hit the border. Maybe there’s something about entering Ohio.

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