A Piece of My Mind: Freezing rain vs. the average off-campus college student

Photo courtesy of KU
Jake Austin
Photo courtesy of KU Jake Austin

Freezing rain is the be-all/end-all of inconvenient weather. Sure, rain and snow produce fair amounts of stress and tension as standalone actors, but as soon as they hybridize, prepare for a world of zero traction and misery. College towns may very well be the worst places to live in such weather. Hundreds of car tires, thousands of bustling, preoccupied feet, and a million different accidents waiting to happen. Kutztown is no different, especially if you live off campus like me. My personal experiences one morning reached a point where “wintery mix” and “Murphy’s Law” might as well have been synonymous.

Things began around 6 a.m., when I was roused from sleep by a rapid dripping sound. The rain had penetrated my roof- apparently by means of freezing and slowly re-melting. To make matters worse, I couldn’t tend to this issue because I was standing in pitch darkness. Ice had crippled the lines and cut the power. I was already the victim of a two-pronged attack. Fortunately, power was quickly restored and I was able to contain the leak with a bucket.

After two hours of phone tag with roofers and repairmen, I set out for food. Navigating the streets was a great adventure, one where each completed step felt like a major achievement. With every small victory, three new slippery challenges took its place like the regenerating heads of a hydra. Slow and steady, slow and steady. The classic moral became my mantra.

I wasn’t the only one struggling. I watched a fellow student slip and drop a full cup of coffee. Another student lost her footing and grasped a banister for dear life. A man fell face-first over a concealed curb. Mankind’s most sacred and crucial inherited ability, upright mobility, was being tested (and humiliated) all around me. I fell myself soon after making this observation.


After breakfast, I found myself face-to-face with my car, a now crystalized, two-wheel drive Malibu. I admit I had procrastinated freeing it from its frosted cocoon, but I was determined to make it to the office after being unable to do so the previous day.

I managed to free it, only to get it stuck again ten seconds later, now worse than before. I quickly remembered that it was about as effective as a Flintstones vehicle on the ice. Now helpless, I conceded defeat, retired to my bedroom, and began writing this column.

The car remains stuck, my ceiling remains saturated, and my stress levels remain in orbit, and I know I’m not the only one. But isn’t this usually the case with all college students anyway? To face down a multitude of daily challenges and inconveniences for the greater good of our future? Think of it this way: now that first warm day of spring will taste even sweeter. This exceptional winter is just another challenge, and it can be beaten, or at least dealt with. My only advice is to convert the frustration of its numerous hindrances into a meditation on patience. Treat it like resistance training. You will prevail as long as you stay calm, be safe, and watch your step. As they say, revenge is better served…

Jake Austin is an intern for Berks-Mont Newspapers and a senior at Kutztown University. Follow Jake on Twitter @Jake_Austin2014.