Jan 162009
 

Happiness is a plowed driveway

Happiness is a plowed driveway

Yesterday, on my 46th birthday, I was out early in the morning in -4f temperatures plowing my 100′ gravel driveway for fun.

No, I don’t normally do that. I am not in the best of shape (understatement alert!) and normally something like that would kill me. But I got this new piece of outdoor power equipment, you see . . .

The story goes like this. We live in a rural neighborhood where everyone has a big tractor that can plow fields and a big truck that can plow driveways, and I have neither. The field we just let grow. Call it a meadow. The neighbors call it weeds gone to seed and hate me for letting it grow. The driveway is similarly-neglected, and if left neglected much longer then it too will be meadow.

About once a year, there is a snow storm big enough to prevent us from just running our cars up and down the driveway to pack the snow down, which is our normal method of dealing with the snow. When the big storm happens, I have to call a local to come plow it out with his big truck, and pay him $50-$75 for the privilege. Granted, it’s only once a year so it’s no big deal financially. But sometimes a man feels like he simply must be equipped to handle such things himself, and I’ve been thinking about getting a snow thrower for a couple of months.

A few evenings ago, before the latest storm, I stopped by Lowes on the way home from work to ogle the various snow throwers. I noted that they had a large number of them (about 30) assembled and ready to roll out the door immediately. Not feeling any sense of urgency, I simply identified the ‘right’ unit for me (a mid-sized 26″ two-stage model) and went on home without buying.

Then crazy shit started to happen. Overnight and through the next day, it snowed like the end of the world. When I got to work, I locked my keys in my car. When I got to my desk, my co-worker came in and asked me if he could look in my car for his keys, because he hadn’t been able to find them since being in my car for lunch the previous day. So both of us were without keys. I called the dealership and they were happy to make me a key as long as I could bring my current registration and/or certificate of insurance as proof of ownership. Unfortunately, those items were safely locked in my car. So I called my insurance agent and they were able to produce a copy of my certificate of insurance.

My co-worker and I took a company car to go run my errand to the insurance office and the auto dealer, and it just kept snowing and snowing. I decided I better get back to Lowes if I wanted a snow thrower for this storm! We stopped on our way between errands and I paid for one to be held for me to pick up later. Good thing I stopped because the Lowes employee told me they were down to three, having sold dozens in the morning. When we got back to the office, I got in to my car with the new key and my co-worker found their keys in my car. So all was well.

But it kept snowing and snowing. And when I left for work, carefully drove home, cleared out the minivan and carefully drove it to Lowes, things got really annoying. They didn’t have my snow thrower. Someone forgot to tag it as sold, and they were all gone. After 20 minutes digging around in the warehouse to make sure there wasn’t one they could assemble, they sent me to another Lowes about 20 miles away which still had dozens of them. They called ahead and got one held for me, and I got in the van and started creeping my way towards the other Lowes. It was rush hour, it was snowing furiously, and everyone was sitting in traffic jams in all directions at every intersection. It took me nearly two hours to cover the 20 miles.

Then when I finally got to the other store, the woman at the customer service desk went around the corner to get my snow thrower and came back with nothing because it too had disappeared. Someone bought it. Luckily for them (I was getting a bit postal at this point) they had more and they got me loaded up and on my way pretty quickly. Another hour or so in the car carefully driving home, and an evening decompressing from the tenseness of that journey.

On the morning of my birthday the sky was clear but it was bitter cold. I had to get the snow thrower out of the van and A. helped tremendously, even coming up with the idea to use car ramps as exit ramps, thus saving Dad’s back from tremendous strain. It was a snap to pop up the control handles (Tighten the hand nuts) and pop on the chute and chute control (a couple of pins and keys). After that, we checked the oil, filled it up, and tried to pull-start it for about five seconds before switching to the electric starter, which fired it right up.

The kids were all outside now getting ready to get on the bus for school and so they followed me like gauslings down the driveway behind the snow plow as it threw snow up and away from the driveway landing in a neat row about five feet away. Awesome. A little time clearing the entry at the road until the bus came, then back towards the house and one more round trip up and down, and the drive is cleared. And all I had to do was walk. Slowly. Beyond awesome.

Best thing, it looks gnarly and dangerous, all decked in red with winding exposed blades like scimitars for snow. I can’t help but go all Tim Allen on it: Ar ar ar ar.

So now I’m just waiting for another snow storm. C’mon Mother N, bring it!!!!