Digging Out

You use the tools you got:

Back in Milwaukee, I had avoided the discomfort and annoyance of dealing with the accumulating snow for weeks. Busy with schoolwork, inexperienced in managing multiple responsibilities and just a little lazy, I waited, hoping that I would never have to deal with it. As a result, the tools that could have helped me — an ice scraper, snowbrush and dashboard defroster — were buried by falling and plowed snow. The inevitable task became all the more difficult, and my friends and I had to improvise — kicking at snow and batting at it with mittened hands. Someone brought a handful of kitchen utensils, and we chipped ice with wooden spoons and flipped snow with spatulas until eventually the doors opened. We looked ridiculous, and I had to buy a lot of beer and pizza the next semester to make it up to those friends, but clearing that path on our own — three college kids with tools from a kitchen junk drawer — taught me more about my capabilities than did many of my courses that term.

When Mr. A and I first moved down to Illinois, we both owned cars for the first time as adults. And it snowed like a mofo on New Year’s Day, and we didn’t own shovels. We’d always lived in apartments, carless, so why would we have shovels? Result of which, one of our first joint tasks in married life was to figure out how to dig our cars out enough to drive to the Target to buy some shovels.

We used a cookie sheet.

The neighbors, from a warm climate abroad, were in even worse shape than we were. They were using a skillet. Not a big one, either. And they didn’t have gloves.

We just looked at each other at one point and laughed. I still have that cookie sheet. It’s bent in three places. It worked great.


6 thoughts on “Digging Out

  1. My first year in Missouri, we got hit by a “devastating blizzard” that pretty much shut the town down for three days (about 8 inches, or as we call it “flurries”). My car had been plowed in since I was there for the first bit of snow and the plow guy had no real experience in plowing snow, apparently.
    The closest store was a Walmart, where the employees looked at me as if I were an idiot asking for a snow shovel.
    Thus, I went back home, grabbed the pot I used for boiling eggs and dug my car out accordingly.
    As Gunny Highway would say, “You improvise. You adapt. You overcome.”

  2. I had a landlord provided snow shovel the first winter, to which I added a pretty nice scraper/brush. But that didn’t help with the ice storm. Good god that was…scary. The landlord brought us something that looked like a hoe, but flat instead of bent.
    Also had a boy scout shovel/pick to chip ice from car tires. And later gave up on a fancy brush and used a push broom that fit in the trunk or the truck bed when I got a truck.
    Another “trick” I learned was to scrape/brush enough snow to get in and start the car so it’d warm up while you brushed the rest of the stuff away. Also helped melt the snow on the hood.
    But what really did the trick was moving south of the snow line.

  3. Growing up in NYC and living in Boston, we knew you had to own some kind of shovel if you owned any kind of car. Of course, some folks from Minnesota were amazed that we didn’t own one of those dipstick engine heaters they used to use so the oil in the crankcase didn’t freeze.

  4. the antique wood handled shovel from an estate sale turned out to be handy for alley ice. and the garden hoe thing.

  5. Can’t tell you how many times I used a debit card or my drivers license to scrape ice off the windshield of my car back in ND during college.

  6. I got assigned to DC back in the mid 90’s. I grew up in snow and had returned from a 2nd tour in Northern Japan, but I didn’t have a snow shovel. I rented a house in Alexandria with a 100+ ft driveway. So of course, I think it was the winter of 95 when it snowed maybe 2 ft. The city shut down as did the government, so I didn’t have to worry about work for a couple days, but that show wasn’t going to move itself. I had a Camry and used it as a battering ram to get myself out of the drive so I could make my way to more than one store that didn’t have any shovels. Ultimately, I had to buy a (coal?) type shovel at an Ace since that was all they had left. Good times!

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