In 2010 I was much luckier than last in driving on Christmas Eve from Portales to Dallas.
In 2009 I joined thousands in getting stranded at night on snow-packed I-20. After an eternity of sucking up 18-wheeler fumes, I forced my way on the shoulder around frustrated drivers to a distant exit, backtracked to Abilene, and finally skidded into the Hendrick Hospital parking lot.
After freezing for an hour, I talked a maintenance worker into letting me inside the locked doors to a waiting room. After dozing there for a couple of hours in front of The Weather Channel while pretending to read “Modern Bride,” a security guard greeted me.
After convincing him that I was not homeless, and showing him the cell phone I was charging after unplugging their Christmas lights, he led me to the nurses’ station — where, for a mere $35, they rented me a guest room in their visitors’ lodge — complete with phone, cable TV and, best of all, a warm bath.
I also helped myself to the staff’s fully-stocked refrigerator down the hallway.
The next morning, while the 18-wheelers and compacts were still stranded, I became Hendrick Hospital’s “Miracle Christmas Baby” when I awoke and took my first steps to my official Christmas meal of scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns and biscuits and gravy in their cafeteria.