So - as I remember, I was about seventeen and had been sent home from school because of the snow. This was always a huge pain, as it used to take me hours and two cross-town buses to get there on a good day. Why on earth we didn’t have phone trees to tell everyone just to stay at home, I don’t know. I think the nuns were keeping track of who was diligent enough to plough their way to school. Ot it could have been the inference that non-attendance would have sinister repercussions in the after life, or something. Very few girls lived close enough to walk so it really was a Herculean effort to get there, especially if the buses decided there was too much snow. On one occasion I remember a big posse of us decided to walk from the center of town, about three miles in the snow. We must have had an extremely pressing reason to get to school as none of us were that saintly.
Anyway, having been kicked out of my school, I eventually ended up at my mother’s school for some reason. Her grade/primary school had also been closed because of the snow and there were several kids whose parents couldn’t be contacted; no cell phones in them days. We ended up having to take one family of small kids to their home because mom was home with a baby, and I remember carrying a four year old at least a half mile, while still carrying my own two ton school bag. Moments after we had dropped the kids off, we crossed a very busy road. I noticed a manhole surrounded by a huge puddle, and, like the loving daughter I am, pointed it out to my mother. What was not apparent was that this was actually just the man hole lid, which had risen and floated off. The actual manhole was directly in front of me and submerged in the filthy brown puddle.
Two seconds after my dutiful act, I was up to my chest in freezing cold, filthy puddle water (at least I hope it was puddle water). For some reason there didn’t seem to be a grave danger of me plunging to the earth’s epicenter, partly because I had hurled my school bag clear and on to the sidewalk/pavement therefore my arms were outside of the manhole.
Cars driving by slowed down to have a look – (I noticed that no one actually got out to help.) And where was my mother in all of this, you might ask? Surely she must have fallen down a neighboring manhole or suffered some other dire fate that rendered her unconscious and prevented her from racing to the assistance of her first born? No actually, she was doubled over laughing by the side of the road, reaching out in a half-hearted way, the waves of mirth preventing her from rendering any assistance whatsoever. She may have picked up my book bag but thinking back now, that was probably only because she didn’t want to jeopardize my chances of scoring a place at a decent university. (This was before personal computers, so all my notes were hand-written, in ink, and therefore extremely susceptible to water damage.) When I finally dragged myself out I was dripping wet and very cold. My mother, by that time, had regained her composure and we walked the remaining quarter mile home. Thankfully, I was not confined to bed with pneumonia or anything of the sort. Obviously that’s just as well given the sympathy my mother was displaying over the whole event.
Only a few years ago, when I was recounting this tale to some friends, my mother inflicted further psychological damage by announcing that she could only “vaguely remember” the incident. I’ll get her back by accidentally tripping on her walking frame or other such geriatric aid when she’s older!