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Ignoring Risk Leads to Icy Situations

By Joey Havens

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There’s nothing more determined than a horse headed back to the barn for some rest and feed. If you have ever ridden a horse, you know that as you get close to the barn at the end of a long ride—hang on, you may no longer be in control. When I’ve been on the road traveling away from home and CeCe (my wife), as I start back, I certainly develop that same mentality to get to the barn ASAP no matter what fence I have to run through.

Recently, after three nights away, I was trying to get home and an ice storm was complicating matters. My flight from Atlanta to Jackson was cancelled, but I was fortunate enough to catch the last flight to Baton Rouge. As we landed, I was excited because I knew I was less than 3 hours away and as I loaded into my rental car at 11p.m., I was energized by the fact that I would be home tonight.

I only made it about 30 miles outside Baton Rouge before I incurred icy roads and my speed was reduced to less than 40 mph. As I continued to make my way towards Jackson, I saw more and more abandoned cars and trucks on the side of the road. When I eased up to one of the primary interstates, blue lights were everywhere as the southbound lanes were completely shut down with two 18-wheelers across the road and into the median. Not to be deterred, I was able to slip by one vehicle on the side of the ramp and slowly make my way northbound.

The interstate was one big block of ice. I slipped and slid my way to just outside of Jackson where my route required a scary ride over an overpass onto another highway. As I got up to the sheet of ice that might be called an overpass, I knew if I made it across I would be extremely lucky.  I remember thinking, “Enterprise, this vehicle might be returned with a new dent or two.“

My rental car (hope Enterprise doesn’t read this) slid sideways twice as I crept forward at barely 10 mph. To my dismay, after praying my way over the overpass, I saw nothing but tail lights ahead.  The northbound lanes were shut down and after 4.5 hours of nerve-racking driving, I was just 5 miles from my warm, cozy barn. But as my good luck would have it again, right before the backed up traffic blocked the ONLY exit, I was able to get on a side street and make my way home.

Sometimes, we are simply lucky in spite of ourselves. Reflecting on my trip, I recognize I did not use the best judgment as I certainly could have spent the extremely cold night in the median rather than in my warm barn, or worse, been injured. 

Today, we must take more risks than ever before to remain relevant and have impact. But we can also take risks that are too big or for the wrong reasons. I got lucky on this one, but the risk was greater than the reward. Sometimes, we must step back in business and make sure we are not that horse headed for the barn and ignoring the barbwire fence right in front of us. Safe travels to each of you.