Paulette Allickson: March 2020 Barefoot Writing Challenge Winner

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Congratulations to Paulette Allickson for Winning the March 2020 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The challenge was to write an essay in response to this prompt:

Do you have a good luck charm? Share the story behind it.

Paulette shared her riveting story about an unexpected guardian angel. Enjoy her winning submission:


I never used to believe in good luck charms. As far as I was concerned, you made your own luck.

Then one Christmas Mom gave me a little silver angel. It was meant to clip onto the car’s visor to protect you while you were driving.

Now, I’d never been in so much as a fender bender in 20-plus years of driving. I was an excellent and careful driver, and I didn’t need a charm to keep me safe. I kept myself safe. But to please Mom (and since no cute little bunny had had to sacrifice a limb!), I clipped the angel to my visor and promptly forgot about it.

Until one day, about a year later, when I was driving to work. It had snowed heavily the day before, but the snowplows had been out clearing the roads. And I was fully confident in my winter driving skills.

Suddenly, I hit a patch of icy slush. My car went into an uncontrollable spin, sliding rapidly across four lanes of highway, barely missing smashing into other cars. Panicked, I stomped on the brake — the worst thing I could’ve done, and I knew it. But it was a gut reaction.

And then it got worse — considerably worse — as I found myself sliding helplessly into the path of an oncoming snowplow (which in Minnesota are massive 30-ton behemoths, built to clear upward of a foot of snow from a single storm).

My little Chevette didn’t stand a chance.

But somehow, with just inches to spare, I missed colliding with the snowplow. I ended up on the shoulder, where my car finally came to a stop after sliding — rather gently, really — into a large snowdrift.

It felt like hours had passed… but in reality, it was just seconds.

My hands were shaking. My legs were shaking. I felt paralyzed.

The snowplow driver, who’d pulled up behind me, ran up to my car.

“Are you all right? Are you hurt?” he asked.

At first all I could do was stammer, “I… I… I don’t think so.”

“I couldn’t stop!” he exclaimed, voice shaking. “I thought I was going to hit you!”

He opened the door and carefully helped me out of the car. My legs were weak… but I could stand. My hands were shaking… but I could move all my fingers. I turned my head from side to side… and there was no neck pain.

I had escaped what could’ve been, at best, serious injury and a mangled car.

The snowplow driver hugged me and said, “Ma’am, you nearly gave me a heart attack! Your guardian angel was surely watching over you today.”

As I sat back down in the car, I thought about the driver’s words. I reached up and touched my little silver angel. “Thanks, Mom,” I murmured.

My good luck charm, my guardian angel, has been with me now through four cars over the ensuing many years.

I became a believer that day.

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