Friday, February 2, 2007

Beware the Plow Guy

By Chuck McKay

It's a scary combination, a retired guy with a plow.

I once had a retired neighbor who plowed his entire two-acre yard, including the lawn, every time it snowed more than a dusting.

This sometimes resulted in large snowbanks spilling over onto my property, but that didn't bother me because it blocked my view of him snorting baking soda through a garden hose.

At least that's what I imagine he was doing, because there is no other way to explain his insane behavior.

He once offered to plow us out after a particularly heavy storm, and we graciously accepted his offer, being new to the neighborhood and somewhat fogged in the head from the early hour (9:00 is harsh when you live in a bachelor pad).

Ninety minutes later, he had pushed into the woods behind our house all the snow he could find, baring areas where we would not have dreamed of parking, such as the ditch.

Then he knocked on our door to ask for $20. “We don't have the money,” I said. “We thought you were just doing us a favor.” He didn't budge. Eventually I gave him our box of baking soda from the fridge and he scampered away.

When I was a kid, a plow guy tried to get my parents to pay his towing bill after he got stuck. We pointed out to him that he had driven off our property and into a swamp, but the mad plow-guy distemper prevented any logic from penetrating his puny skull.

You can imagine how nervous I got when my father retired and bought a truck with a plow on it. Fortunately, Dad has plowed only reasonable, necessary amounts of snow so far. But it was hard keeping him from plowing his bare gravel driveway every few days to “smooth it out.”

Anyway, let all this be a lesson to you. When confronting all of life's little catastrophes, the simplest solution is usually the best, unless it involves bending over and lifting things with a shovel.

That's what I spent the rest of my winter doing after the falling-out with our obsessive-compulsive neighbor. It has resulted in life-long back problems, to the point where every time I do any degree of physical labor, such as carrying our bills back from the mailbox, I am required to lie down and receive a back-rub from a beautiful woman. It's my cross to bear.

That's why, after I moved to a new house, I started salivating when I saw our new neighbor, Phil, zipping back and forth along his driveway with a spiffy little walk-behind snowblower. Before I could find my shovel, he had his whole driveway looking spic & span, with all his excess snow neatly piled up on trees and other people's windows.

I couldn't afford a new snowblower, so I got a used one for $100 from my brother-in-law (whose sales motto is “good riddance”). When I finally had a chance to use it after a storm, I quickly discovered two complications:

1. Phil's driveway is newly-paved, whereas mine contains various pieces of rock, dirt, garbage, etc.
2. Not all snowblowers are created equal.

This second point dismayed me the most. My snowblower tried its best, dutifully picking up chunks of whatever-it-ran-into and depositing them right in front of itself. Even after I figured out how to maneuver the chute-thingy, I still had, at best, a rather inefficient means of moving snow.

So I scrapped the snowblower and invested in a collection of snow-scoops. This has been the best solution so far. All I have to do is ram the scoop into a section of snow, then slide it along until I find a suitable place to dump it off (Phil's driveway). Moderate exercise, no back problems, no little engines to maintain, no bizarre plow-guy behavior.

I highly recommend the snow-scoop method. But if you must hire a plow guy, you could always give my dad a call. We all know he's not too busy.


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