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.