When long-term memory fails

In April 1971, as we looked forward to our move to South Africa, we planned to visit a conference in Saskatchewan. By attending, we could pick up our transportation costs to Africa. On a Thursday following a full day of work, Anna and I left with our oldest son. We drove straight through, switching drivers, stopping only for short rest and refuelling breaks. For once in our lives we had a large car, bought for this and similar trips.
On Friday evening, heavy snow began to fall as we angled from the U.S. border toward Regina. Our headlamps carved out a cone of yellowish light only yards into a wall of white fury. We passed easily through the lighted and more sheltered city of Regina and took the dual highway toward Moose Jaw. Only minutes after committing ourselves, we realized the snowstorm had become a raging blizzard and the highway’s department had removed the snow plows, leaving us alone on the road. No question about turning back; we couldn’t pull off because off-ramps and business exits remained virtually invisible and blocked with snow. Drifts began to appear across our lanes, sometimes as high as the middle of the car’s grill. I just aimed it at the drifts, exploded through, and continued on.
At 11 o’clock Friday evening we reached our destination, attended the conference on Saturday and Sunday, picked up our cheque, and headed back on Monday. On our return trip through northern Ontario, my eyes, damaged by the glare on the snow, gave out. Anna drove the rest of the way home. 
Bad judgement on our part? Absolutely. “Never again will I get into circumstances like that,” I swore.
Almost 37 years later, when a conference promised personal benefit, I decided to attend. On March 8, I set out alone for the Toronto Congress Centre, leaving early to arrive before the weather closed in. I pulled in at midmorning just as the nastiest storm in decades struck. Other than the exhibitors manning the booths, few others arrived. I had intended to spend one hour signing books and talking to readers, but none came. No problem there, because I also hoped to meet with media people who sat gloomily in their exhibits and now had plenty of time for me.
I went from booth to booth, meeting with them as the storm raged outside. “You won’t be able to go home today,” one of them said. “I have an extra bed in my hotel room. You can bunk with me tonight.”
I thanked him and said I would likely do that. But by four in the afternoon, my mission completed, I went outside to check out the weather and driving conditions. It didn’t seem all that bad, so I decided to give it a try, knowing I could always turn back. I had forgotten the lesson learned 37 years ago. As I drove westward, the storm increased in fury.
Again, I could not turn back because every side street and exit had drifted in. No longer driving the big V8 of years ago, my little Dodge with its low, rakish nose could not smash the drifts aside, but tunnelled under, throwing the snow onto the windshield. I’m sure the little car was singing, “Wee, I’m a Jeep, I’m a Jeep, I’m a Jeep.”
For three hours I battled on in second and third gears with no way to turn around and afraid to stop. Thankfully, I arrived home safely.   
It’s not the weather that puts us in danger. The real peril lies in forgetting lessons learned and abandoning common sense. 

Ray Wiseman