Stuck! A Metaphor of Mud and Snow


Article by Grace DurfeeHave you ever been stuck? Ever been in a rut that you couldn’t get out of easily? Ever felt that the harder you tried, the more you spun your wheels and the deeper you buried yourself?

A friend of mine once found herself, quite literally, in this situation. As she backed down my steep driveway in a snowstorm (ironically on the first official day of spring), her car slipped into and became stuck in my garden. From her story, I hope you’ll find strategies to apply as you move through sticky situations in your own life.

Assess the Situation

Her car was in a tough spot. There was a small boulder to the right of the car, a boxwood shrub to her left, and our mailbox was two feet behind her. To make matters worse, her front tires were dug so far into the snow that the nose of her car was level with the driveway and ground. The only way out appeared to be to reverse course — to move up the slope in order to get back onto the driveway.

Ask for Help

Fifteen or twenty minutes must have passed between the time I said goodbye to my friend and the time I realized she was stuck. It was past my boys’ bedtime, so it wasn’t until after reading to them and tucking them in that I looked out of a window and saw headlights in my garden. My friend had been going it alone the whole time, attempting to move forward, but had only become more deeply mired in the snow and dirt. Realizing her plight, I immediately put on my coat and boots and went out to help.

Look at What You Have Going For You

We had some tools at our disposal — shovels, some sand, a blanket for traction, and people I could round up to push if needed. Since we’d both had some experience with cars in snow, we decided to first go with what we knew best.

Clear the Way

Snow was packed tightly between her front tires and the rim of the car, so first we dug that out to free up her wheels. We also cleared away the snow in front and in back of her tires.

Use an Incremental Approach

Our initial attempt was to spread sand in front of the tires, hoping that would give her tires something to grip onto, so she could slowly inch her way back to the driveway.

Be Willing to Abandon Plans

When shoveling and sanding didn’t make a bit of difference, we knew we had to take another tack. My husband had just finished a business call, so I asked for his assistance and suggestions.

Explore Different Options

Instead of fighting an uphill battle, my husband recommended removing the mailbox and backing out through the garden into the street. My friend and I had assumed that the mailbox was a fixed obstacle. Not so! Since it had never been cemented in, it easily lifted out.

Create Movement

Even though the ultimate plan was go backward, moving slightly forward and backward to create a rocking motion is what finally got the car to budge. It’s counterintuitive to move in a different direction that you want to go, but often any sort of movement is enough to get things rolling.

Give a Good Push to Keep It Going

Once the car started to move, a few strong pushes helped send it on its way.

Everything turned out fine. My friend made it safely home. My garden escaped remarkably unscathed — the only plants affected were the annual mums that I pull out every spring anyway. Since she’s not the only friend who has done battle with our driveway, we now offer a valet service.

I hope one or more of these approaches come in handy the next time you are feeling stuck in mud, in snow, or in life.

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