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Escape from St. Cloud

19 January 2020

Now sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…

Against my own better judgement, I decided to go to the tUMD – St. Cloud game on Saturday. I never go to St. Cloud, for various reasons including tUMD men suck every time they go there, many of the fans are on meth, and of course last time I went there Raboin’s dad went nuts on some tUMD fans.

The weather had already made travel somewhat iffy, and we decided not to buy tickets in advance and make a game day decision on whether or not to attend the game. I also thought the game started at 7:00 until… Friday night, when I just happened to see it somewhere. Whoops, that would have been a big mistake.

Once we determined that the snow from early Saturday morning hadn’t added any additional travel problems, we headed out. Or tried to, but it took forever to get the ice chipped off the car windshield, and then we needed gas, and then of course had to get coffee, so we were already behind. This is unsurprising, but in good weather we could have easily made up the time.

Instead, we dealt with semi-crappy roads, including some sneaky icy spots and one section where a state trooper for some reason decided to slow everyone down to 20 mph by driving down the middle of the road. We were still 20 miles from St. Cloud at that point, so we were facing another hour of driving. Fortunately that only lasted about ten minutes and we were rolling into St. Cloud only a few minutes late for the game.

I couldn’t remember if there was a charge for parking, but I assumed there was when I saw there was a large line of cars trying to get into one of the lots by the NHC. The line was still moving at an okay clip so we kept on going until…

It turned out that the parking lot was actually unplowed, and we didn’t realize that until we were already in the lot. And couldn’t go anywhere because of all the cars totally stuck in various places, and because the cars behind us wouldn’t back up. And then we got stuck trying to exit the lot. Because of course.

Inside, the fans and players and staff were wholly unaware of the post-apocalyptic scene in the unplowed parking lot. Cars abandoned haphazardly. Others stuck, completely blocking anyone from getting their own cars out. Everyone was frantically digging at their vehicles with whatever rudimentary tools they could fashion, or on our bellies digging at the snow with our own two hands. We were one conch shell away from creating our own council when a couple of liberators showed up in a pickup truck with a tow rope and took charge. They began the difficult task of determining which order to rescue the survivors, while others built snow sculptures in their honor.

We had just figured out a way to extricate one of the first vehicles from the Thunderdome, a silver crossover hockey mom-mobile, and the truck was in the process of pulling them out, when the St. Cloud staff finally showed up, driving their side-by-side/ATV/go-kart right where the truck needed to go to free the hockey mom along with Ralph, Piggy, and the rest. That was completely unhelpful, but at least we would finally have the proper authorities there to assist!

Or what actually happened, which was the go-karters told everyone we couldn’t park there, and then left. That was some real accountability. Once again, we were on our own.

I managed to help one tUMD fan get their vehicle unstuck from behind ours via some brute force, and then another crossover broke free and went speeding haphazardly down the aisle like a bat out of hell, stopping for nothing. I think it was called the SUV that wouldn’t slow down. A few more vehicles were cleared, and then it was down to us, “The Little Car That Was Really Stuck.” Not a great sign. We inspected the car for possible hookups, and finding none, I recommended we push it.

“Okay,” said Snake, the one with the truck, seeming skeptical. After all, the snow was all the way up to the undercarriage and we would have to turn right away to get around the truck parked next to us. “Maybe if we get it going, and you cut to the left right away, and then just don’t stop until you’re out…” And so the Aaaahj got behind the wheel, and we started rocking the car back and forth, and then it started to move and he gunned it and Snake yelled “GIV’R! GIV’R” because what dystopia would be complete without a Receiver of Memories and then we were free!

And then we got coffee and got the hell out of town, because the game was half over and we didn’t feel like paying, and that turned out to be the best choice of the night because tUMD men got shut out and swept, but we were already halfway home when that happened.

One day I will tell my descendants of the time we thought we would never escape the National Hockey Center parking lot, and they will listen, rapt, as we recount in hushed tones the horrors we saw while we were trapped, and warn them of the great peril that awaits them if they are folly enough to try to attend a Bulldog men’s hockey game in St. Cloud.


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