The big winter freeze left many parts of the country buried under feet of snow. In my little corner of the world, the weather resulted in closed college campuses, public schools, churches, and businesses for two days. Temperatures were flirting with -20 degrees, and handfuls of cities were forced to declare a state of emergency as homeless shelters and missions were filled with people hoping to find protection from the weather’s wrath. To even escape from our snow-covered homes, driveways and roads had to be constantly plowed.
This story, dear reader, is the tale of one mustached man and his fight to clear his driveway.
It was five o’clock in the morning, the usual time I layered up in my thermals and Carhartts to fire up the old Arien snow blower. The snowstorm, Hercules, had barricaded my passage to work with a couple feet of snow. Across the yard the streetlight illuminated a peachy orange glow, lighting my way as I started attacking the drifts. I struggled to remember a morning as cold as this one. The negative temperatures made me feel like a popsicle, despite the strenuous toil of clearing away the heavy snow. My mustache was now ridden with frozen mucus, but I pushed on, humming a Frank Sinatra ditty to myself as I went along. I stopped briefly to catch my breath. Over half of the driveway was cleared, and the final few rounds would finish the job. I was feeling good. The cold air was stinging my eyes and lungs, but the progress was encouraging.
That’s when I saw him.
From the top of my hill, I watched a county snowplow truck barrel down the peaceful street, causing the far side of the road to erupt with blowing snow and ice. As he whizzed past on the opposite side of the road and turned his behemoth-of-a-rig around, I realized what he was about to do. I looked over my nearly cleared driveway and I swore under my breath. My stare turned colder than the assaulting glacial wind as I met the county snowplow guy’s gaze.
It looked like shards of doughnut had still managed to cling to his scruffy face, and his baseball cap was discolored from years of constant wear. When his eyes met mine, a sinking feeling settled in my gut. There was something dead in his eyes; a fish-like glint that reflected his compassion-less, careless attitude. We were in standoff; two lone cowboys looking across the frozen tundra of Tyler Pines Avenue. It was like a scene from an old western movie. The "do-a-do-do-a-do" cowboy music started blaring in my head. In our case, the rolling tumbleweed was substituted by a gust of frigid air and powdery snow.
Our eyes were still locked. Slowly, the right corner of his thin lip twitched into an ugly smirk.
“You son of a bitch,” I whispered in disbelief.
The driver snapped upright. He reached above his head and cranked hard on the horn of his freighter as his engine revved. Lurching forward, he rammed into the drifts. In a fume cloud of salt, snow, and ice, the smug driver accelerated past with a grin spanning ear-to-ear and a “friendly” wave.
Every inch of my body went hot. My insides had transitioned from man-sicle to curdling brimstone. From the safety of my hilltop, curse words began to fly out of my mouth like gospel songs in a Baptist church. If he had waited for five more minutes, I could have cleared the end of my driveway and spared myself from starting all over again. It was no use. My driveway looked like a snowman had thrown up on it: Splatters of the salt-snow mixture now speckled my driveway in chunks. Still mumbling curses against the snowplow guy, his mother, his dog, his stupid hat, and any other relation or object he held dear, I made my way to the bottom of the drive. With a clenched jaw, I started the old Arien up once again as the snow began to fall.