The Road to Hell is Paved With Snowplows

I’m having one of those days.

Everybody has them. Everyone is familiar with them. Nobody likes them. And we all nearly collapse with gratitude at the end of them.

I call them: Good For Nothin’ Days.

Or: Why Me Why Now? Days.

And even: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DOES ANYONE STILL MAKE CALGON?! Days.

I am having one of the last category days today. And I would like to get off the bus at the next stop and call an end to the day in general. Go no further on this ride.

I am a big list maker.

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I believe in the effectiveness of lists like most folks believe in the effectiveness of vitamins, or prayer, or eggs. The jury is still out on whether or not many of these things actually contribute benefit to our lives, but loads of us are diehard fans who will shoot down any negative data and cling to that which we know and are comfortable with. Because it’s safe.

And … change sucks.

The problem with today, and my list, is that nothing is getting crossed off. And the anxiety of having a day without the satisfaction of putting a line through tasks is much like having a warm heart to heart with an innocent, furry little lab mouse and telling him that today he will not be receiving his ever-available, always-flowing drip tube of liquid cocaine, and that he should just try to shake off the upset he’ll likely begin to feel at some point.

LIKELY??

I am in total sync with the bewhiskered wretch. His tears are my tears. We pace the same cage. We are tormented by the same misery.

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It’s not like I am making no effort to accomplish things today, but rather I am dependent upon other people, and although I have what feels like a bottomless pit of enthusiasm to spur on the lackluster drive of others, I cannot throw two or three or a half a dozen folks onto a sled and drag them up to the top of the hill to plant our collective flags.

One reason is because a snowplow is blocking the way.

Yes, I know it’s the end of March for you, but for me it’s smack dab in the middle of February. See? Time travel does work. Or rather, that’s how an editorial calendar works.

Part of the beauty of living where I do is that it’s remote.

Part of the bane of my existence, living where I do, is that it’s remote.

I prefer NOT to have interaction with most human beings because they interfere with my ability to work. But on the flipside, when I do need assistance, I can hear folks on the other end of the line all drawing straws to see who’s the unfortunate sod who will be assigned my work request order.

Usually I hear something like, “Uhhh … yeah, you should expect to see Jimmy—”

NO!

“I mean Buck—”

NUH UH!

“Hold on a sec …” (insert muffled growls) “Vernon’s comin’ by tomorrow sometime after lunch, God willin’.”

*sigh*

I’m not surprised. Or offended. I get it. It takes forever to get here, and the getting here part is usually rife with treacherous debacles waiting ‘round every bend—and by every bend I’m talking about the driveway. The first thing out of everyone’s mouth is always, “Seriously?” followed closely by a “ooohWEE!”, or a deleted expletive, depending upon what part of the county they were coming from.

My answer to the seriously? question was to have a 55 mph sign installed at the most dangerous and impossible part of the drive. I figured this was a surefire way of eliminating any person with an IQ that fell below that of leaf mulch from making it to the top and thus to my doorbell.

The ditches on either side of my driveway have housed more automobiles than many car dealerships around here. Tow trucks almost always call for backup tow trucks, which result in calls back to the shop for specialized winches, axles, and ratchet straps, and when they realize they’re both in a bind, someone usually phones David Copperfield to get a quote on levitation.

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If there’s even a whisper of frozen precipitation in the forecast for my local area, it’s generally guaranteed that all packaged mail delivery folks will leave a note on the gate at the bottom of the hill saying they dropped by, three days running, and go figure, no one was ever home. Anyone scheduled to head up here for maintenance suddenly has a “family emergency” and will have to reschedule. For some time in June.

For some time in June.

Snowplow drivers, on the other hand, are a fearless breed. Those that do not get hired by the county are the ones that generally have been weeded out because although they may lack fear, they usually also lack sound judgment. Most drivers will recognize the difference between pushing a load of snow, and say, taking down a small grove of fruit trees, or clearing the road of pesky fire hydrants and mailboxes.  The ones who feel it’s pretty much samey samey, hang up a shingle come wintertime and are up for private hire.

Lucky us.

And luckier me, I’m going to head down the mountain’s deadly driveway for the third time today to find out if this fearless fellow would finally like for me to call for backup to get him back on the road and out of the grove of solid trees he mistakenly took for the route we normally use with our cars.

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“Yeah,” he says, kicking a tire that just can’t seem to get a purchase on the air it’s spinning in. “I’ve tried and tried,” he waves his cell phone at me, “but I can’t get no service up here on this mountain.”

Tell me about it.

~Shelley

*BONUS ROBIN GOTT CARTOON!* (click)

Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.

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75 thoughts on “The Road to Hell is Paved With Snowplows

  1. Oh good gravy, what a miserable [bleepity-bleep] day. My heart goes out to you. Your humor never wavers and here you are entertaining us with your Calgon day. Good riddance to all of it. I hope you are soaking away in a hot tub this very moment.

  2. Ah poor honey-chile – I was going to suggest now was a good moment for the whiskey tasting to become more of a whiskey glugging – but I see you already started! Perhaps a winter home and a summer home might be called for? One at the top of the mountain and one a bit nearer the bottom? I too very much enjoyed the list makers!

    • A brilliant idea, Pauline. I cannot count how many times this winter I marched down and up this driveway to get the mail–all in the whiteout of a fabulous snowstorm. I’ve no issue with the snow. I will miss winter. I will miss strapping a small barrel of whisky to the collar of my hound as we trek through the snow. And I will mostly miss what I could have done with the many dollars that were shelled out for errant snowplow drivers who took a whack at clearing the road when it was clear it needed to be used.
      Ah well, next year I will see if I can strap a small plow to the hound as well–skip the drivers altogether. 😛

  3. Well, I found your Post stimulating and very positive when reflecting on my own life. Your problems appear to be emanate from a distinct tendency to believe that you are the centre of the universe, but clearly that is not true.

    You wanted to get off your bus. This is all about you! Lucky you to actually get on one! My history of buses is that while many show up, the one that I want has broken down, is quarantined, rescheduled or otherwise taken out of service.

    Your lists are not reducing in size. This is also all about you! The problem is that either the subjects on the list are too big and need to be broken down into small components, or you are adding subjects to the list at the same rate that others are coming off, or you are simply not addressing anything on the list.

    The analogy with the lab rat is, again, all about you! Unlike the lab rat, you can go out and buy a bottle of that golden elixir, although I suspect that you already have some around there somewhere. Of course you could always add it to your list?

    Your location? This is also all about you! Write down on your list “Move” and then you can endure the pleasures of the “City life” and all that entails. Anybody having to visit you will thank you for the thoughtfulness behind the move.

    Snow plow drivers? This is also all about you! How come you don’t know that snow plow drivers (like tow truck drivers) are the same the world over? Why didn’t you know that? Perhaps a result of living in isolation for too long?

    The next time you want to get off the proverbial (or otherwise) bus, just stand up and say in a clear loud voice “I am Shelley Sackier”. The bus will no doubt stop! Hopefully “Get off bus” is on your list.

  4. Well, Mohammed may never get to your mountain Mrs P! That particular day sounded like a real uphill climb. 😁 Mr G, love the big list, little list cartoony. You two just make me swoony. Adios for now.

  5. Hahaha, I kinda know what that’s like. If you travel in any direction from our town, you have to drive 1000 miles to get to the next biggest town. That means our services are well, let’s just say, you get what you get. I must remember to test for IQ’s lower than leaf mulch, however. So funny. xx

    • 1000 miles?! Holy comoly, Ardys. That is a massive trek! But I’m so glad you live where you do, as I feel so lucky to see your landscape through your magic lens. It is a touch of the otherworldly for me. And that is sometimes reason enough to overcome the irritable bits of isolation. Cheers! xx

      • is Ardysez like in the middulll of antarctica or something? i thought i was (well, I AM) remote in that the nearest “big towns” are 250 miles to the west and/or east. or the middull of australia??

  6. I’m now imagining my hillside in relation to yours as little list to big list (great cartoon!) We have a steep climb half way up and some mean hairpins but no deadly ditch so I figure we don’t quite make your league Shelley! Perhaps you could open an occasional winter whisky bar to tempt folk to the top? Lovely post and I think RatDude is totally fab 🙂 😀

  7. I’m glad it’s late March when I’m reading this and I’m tucked up warm, that snow covered mountain image was sending phantom cold winds across my shoulders!
    I’ve always been grateful that our house is relatively accessible in bad winters, and you’ve reminded me it could be so much worse.
    I’m puzzled by your concept of freelance snowplough drivers, though. Round here the non-council snowploughs tend to be farmers bolting some equipment on to the front of the chunkiest tractor they own. The advantages being they know the difference between road to be ploughed and trees!
    As a fellow list maker I sympathise greatly.
    Robb’s Dickensian Copperfield brought a big smile to my face. I’d forgotten about the magician so when I saw the name my first thought was to wonder if I’d missed the levitation scene in the book somehow. 😊

    • Hahaha! Oh, Laura, you had me in stitches thinking about Dickens throwing in a bit of Las Vegas illusion and slight of hand to his story. Great imagery. And yes, your understanding of the surplus drivers is precisely correct, but it sounds as though you’ve bred a slightly higher class of farmer. In truth, I do love our farmers here. In fact, I’m amazed that some of them have found a way to run their tractors off the potent fumes from whatever they were drinking the night before. 😛

  8. Oh Shelley, I found myself nodding and smiling as I read this. Not because I was enjoying your pain, of course. But because I recognise so much of what you said and there are so many resonances.

    I, too, am an inveterate list maker. My desk at work was known by my colleagues as ‘post-it city’ – without these little stickies my life would fall apart. I’ve even been known to add something already accomplished to a list, just to have the pleasure of ticking it as done.

    And, Rob, the listmaker picture rocks. I guess I’m the little one as I’m only 4ft 11 🙂

    And as to remote living. Oh yes. Lots of advantages to living in far off and beautiful place BUT –
    until 3 years ago we lived in the furthest northern tip of the island. The final approach to our house wasn’t a driveway but a single track road – ten miles of it. There were some passing places of course but you always met the logging rigs or the hay lorries at the most inconvenient places and had to reverse back for a long way round twisty bends and avoiding the ditch. One morning on my way to work I came across the postman complete with van in the ditch. I offered to tow him out ( with the 4 wheel drive, not just me pulling) but he gave that look of horror which to me said, ‘but you’re a girl! You can’t possibly cope with a tow rope, tow bar, vehicle pulling scenario.’ And he said he’d wait for a colleague who was already on his way. I must admit snowy days were terrifying. You couldn’t see where the ditch began and there is no street lighting either. One former colleague had to park at the bottom of her steep driveway on snowy days and sledged down in the morning to get back to her car.

    Nowadays we live in relative civilisation in the main town, but I was once told by a mail order company that they couldn’t deliver to us as we weren’t part of the UK!

    And my parting advice – Pour yourself a large one and make a list of spring-cleaning chores so you’re ready when the season finally arrives.

    Slainte!

    • Wow, Anne, your home three years ago sounds like my ideal – and also sounds like it’s not too terribly far from Kilt Rock? That’s probably my favorite spot on Skye. Aw heck, whom I kidding, I loved every part of Skye.
      Love the story of you and the postman. I can’t believe he chose to wait.
      And yes, spring has arrived. No mounds of snow left and the weather is specifically springlike in its definition to a T. I shall miss winter. Everyone believes I must have fallen down and hit my head on a patch of ice when hearing me say that. I adore the snow (and seclusion!).
      Regardless, I’ll take your advice on the dram size. There’s always a reason. 😀
      Slainte!

  9. Ah Shellley,

    This winter has been almost snowless. Thus, as apposed to last year whence we had a record snow fall and cold snap (on the tip of the NE peak of Wisconsin’s DC Peninsula on Lake Michigan which lasted for five months… ugg!). Last year we were blessed with a neighbor who kindly plowed the tonnage of snow to the front of our drive and ALWAYS mounded it to the walkway to our septic pumpout pit pathway, which… I, spent at minimum of two hours shoveling out a path for the septic guy just to get to. I feel your pain… and, mine as well.

    I haven’t the hill that you do, although I think we beat you with the mouunds of snow and temps below zero. Thus, respectfully you live in paradise. (I do respect your driveway as it is like driving in Vail).

    Here in Door County we are well prepared for snow, (160″), ice and such. It is, just the piles of where to put it, especially after it is plowed off the roads. And then, within two days the fifteen foot high piles of snow become bolders or, rather glacers of cement. Oh, and when they melt, our yard and the surrounding enviornment becomes a lake. I digress.

    It was a challenge this year for me for having my truck outside for the first time all winter to survive the extreem cold. Try to start anything at 3:30 am at – 20F and your vehicle laughs at you as for the past eleven years it’s been in a 45F degree garage, pampered.

    Life changes, so be it and we do our best to adapt.

    As always, love your thoughts and Rob’s drawings.

    Best regards to you both, and to your readers. I very much enjoy everyyone’s comments. Happy spring.

    Stoshu 🙂

    • Okay, just one worry I have that remains with you and your tiny chitlins. Puullleeeze don’t tell me you have the insane rule that bikes don’t get to come out until all the snow is gone. You’re not doing that to the girls, right? RIGHT??
      And yes, the piles of snow and where to put them have been one of those rather amazing problems to handle this year–not here, but where Chloe goes to school, the pictures I’ve seen have been hysterically funny. But I seriously did feel terrible for those poor folks. Thankfully, many of them had a wonderful sense of humor to aid them through the rough winter.
      I hope yours is still intact.
      PS I grew up thinking that everyone plugged in their cars at night. Apparently, this is not the case.

  10. Like other readers, I am loving the big list and little list! Shelley, I hope you can get David Copperfield on the line soon. We all need him on speed dial.

    “And by every bend I’m talking about the driveway” was a true winner. Even though my driveway is more like thirty feet and is well cleared, I cannot get better mail service than you. They like to leave a card in my mailbox without ringing the doorbell when my car is in the driveway and I am clearly at home. So take heart, you will have bad service no matter what! Hmmm…wait…I guess that’s not very comforting, is it?

    • It leaves me flummoxed, Sue, the whole mailman thing. On the one hand, I wholly understand the time pressure, and the risk assessment when delivery folks make a quick appraisal of the driveway, and I have told each and every one of them that I meet face to face, that if it’s a hairy situation–or they’re running behind, then leave the bits at the bottom and I’ll come collect it later. I just steam a little when there’s a pink or yellow slip tossed into the mailbox that says “You weren’t home.”
      I’m still trying to think up a way to handle it humorously. I may just have to stick something in the mailbox to provide proof and encouragement. Like a laminated card that says, “We both know I’m up there. You bring up my package, and I’ll give you a cookie.”
      I’m mulling it over. 🙄

  11. OMG that is a crazy story! Yes, plow drivers do have a crazy side to them. . My bro plows for a nearby city. He plows his own street also. Funny thing was one day he’d worked all the hours he could and went home for someone else to take over. .. Next morning, his bass fish mailbox was gone! His coworker had dragged it down the street 50 feet! Gesh!
    I wish you a Calgon day! 😀

    • Oh, the poor fella!
      I want a bass fish mailbox. Did it sing when you opened it?
      I have a big deer head mount that actually sings about half a dozen songs. Best gift I’ve ever received. It’s not real, but sooo realistic and its mouth moves while singing and the head tilts and shuffles up and down. It’s truly like something from a Disney World set. I love it!
      (sorry, total tangent–hope you all were able to recover the mailbox)

      • It sure would have been fun for it to sing, however no sounds. The deer head sounds like a riot. My friend had one that spoke what you said into a microphone. It was a blast bringing camping and entertaining both children and drunks! Giggle!

  12. Ah the glory and splendor of Mountain living. Having never lived on a mountain I can’t fully relate. I can relate to a desire to live apart from folks. Oh and that list making thing. Maybe you should check out CB radio. You know that Breaker 1 Nine stuff. Don’t tow trucks have them? That way you could communicate with them anytime. Anywhere. Breaker 1 nine this is Mountain Momma, calling Flatland Fool; over. Check it out, if nothing else think of all the great dialogue you would hear. Every driveway plowing adventure would sound like Smoky and the Bandit. At least it is worthy of adding to a list;isn’t it?

    • Benson, your comment has allowed me to cross off ‘abdominal exercises’ on my list today. Good heavens that was funny. Just for the sheer pleasure of being able to quote you, I would invest in a CB radio. Think of all the posts I could write about those radio conversations. Totally worth it.

  13. Gahhh! … in your position, I would likely have created a parking spot at the bottom of the mountain by now and resorted to skiis and/or snowshoes to get back and forth to the house in winter!!

    Snowplow operators absolutely fascinate me. How they manage not to take out more parked vehicles and fire hydrants is a wonder. In Quebec City close to my in-laws, there is a house that sits very close to the side of the road.
    They get a lot of snow in Quebec and many of the *plows* are in fact *blowers*. It seems that most winters at some point, the operator will forget to turn off the blower as it passes this house and therefore manages to send a torrent of snow through their front window. Now that would be a crappy surprise to the day!

    • Yes, you’re spot on, Joanne. There have been many times where the car is unfit for the trek to the top and I’m on my own. I always carry big boots in the back of my car and a set of extra winter gear. I start off thinking, “Oh, this will be a great bit of exercise. I can do this.” And then halfway through the one mile long and one thousand feet up through half a foot of freshly fallen snow I begin to realize that I’m insane. The fact that I’ve stripped off my coat and hat is usually the first clue. The second one is when I attempt to talk myself into a quick kip in the warm blanket of snow.
      And oh good heavens, your poor in-laws! Just the idea of having to shovel one’s way to the coffee pot is laughable, but so sad.

  14. Big list/Little list….best cartoon ever!

    And Shelley, this is exactly how I felt when I lived in Saint Michaels last year….getting someone to show up to do anything at all was like hitting some astral lottery that I had no idea even existed….And Saint Michaels didn’t even have gates, mountain, or snow as an excuse!

    The bad news is, if that operator was right and Vernon is your ‘man’ of the day then you may be in for a bit of a surprise if Rob’s Gruntles post is anything to go by…….

    • I love those guys! The Gruntles had me snort with laughter.
      Actually, I’d kinda give anything to have Rob’s version of Vernon be the lucky loser and come up here. I can only imagine the experience would be post-worthy!
      And oh, how I adore Saint Michaels. I haven’t been there in a few years, but my memories are so warm. In fact, I recall staying at the Inn at Perry Cabin just as the massive snow storm of 1995 began. Boy, did those folks treat us well.

  15. I could mention that all that driveway walking was great exercise, but I reckon you’d throw a snowball at me ;). I’ve lived in remote areas more than “civilized” ones and I agree it’s a double-edged sword. Your area is beautiful; take heart, this to shall pass. 🙂

  16. And to think I’m peeved because my cable line is hanging way too low after the ice storm that blessed the area, and no one showed up to fix it at the appointed time. I’m humbled, to say the least.

    Still, remote sounds wonderful to me. If I ever have the chance for a remote existence though, I won’t choose to live on a mountain. 😉

    • I remember you writing about that, Glynis, and how it made me run with shivers thinking about it. Those big cables are scary–to say the least.
      And the mountain living truly is the most glorious thing. I would write about how blissful it is nearly every day, but likely I’d get a slew of hate mail requesting that I find the nearest cliff and leap. So I choose to write mostly about the goofy and the absurd. Most of that is just some version of everyone’s experiences.
      Hope that cable was finally attended to!

  17. Aw Shelley!…. I’d hire a hummer to take me up that road to see you, and I would make it! PS – any chance you’ll be near Wisconsin in May??? I would drive to see you! Love, your long lost kids friend. xoxo

    • And a sherpa. You’ll need one of those too. 😛
      Actually, I was reading yesterday about ‘tundra buggies,’ which sound really cute, but are actually these massive military type buses used to traverse the rigid terrains of the Canadian tundra, and although a couple sizes too large for me and the hound, it appears that it would scoff at the idea of a road and make it to the top with ease. Trees be damned. Ebay maybe??
      And sadly no, Wisconsin travel plans are not on the calendar at this point, but I really should make an effort to get out there soon. I still have two siblings who reside in our own little frozen tundra, and I suppose I ought to see if they’re still around. 😉

  18. YESSS. I am a huge list maker. Except I have finished my list (and emptied all of my emails) three times in the last two years and every time I felt lost and depressed because there was nothing else on my list, as if the list was the only thing keeping me from turning into a lump of cookie dough in a 90º oven. 😛 On the other side, sometimes the list gets so out of control I feel like I’ve created my very own, personal rat race, and the shackles of obligation will soon smother me….

    Yeah, it’s a careful balance, haha.

    • You make a great point, Alex. I’m guessing I’d wither on sight if I came upon an empty mailbox or a list completed. I’d probably panic as well, because there is no way in hell I’ll ever become that efficient, which probably means I’ll actually have died and not realised it. I’ll be one of these ghostly souls who can’t let go of earthly things. My email and household accounts will all have shut down, and yet every morning I will rise, sleep-deprived and muddle-headed, sit down in my chair and stare at a blinking cursor, willing it to move and believing my computer has some wonky, slow virus.
      Okay, now I’m depressed.
      I need some time off.

      • Don’t be depressed! I’m pretty sure you’d keep busy on the other side, too. 😛 Hauntings are a timely thing, you know. Gotta make sure those pipes and floorboards swell at the appropriate temperatures, and weather balloons end up on strange properties…. Now that I think about it, maybe productive ghosts are the only reason any of us end up on adventures at all. 😉

  19. (1) lists: yeah, me too. however, iffenwhen the list got too (pre?)ponderous, i’d scribble sumthin like “put down something on the list easy to check off” then i’d put a big check next to it

    (2) march for us, february for you: there is a stoplight about 3/4 mile from our house and i practically NEVER wait for it to turn. because: if i waited the inexorable many minutes every time it takes for that infernal light to switch — i would be back in February! (due to all the time spent waiting). yeah, i get it

    (3) “you” (people back east) have had, apparently, a winter. we haven’t, nor, at this late junxure, won’t. however, i knew the previous winter (13-14) was bad when early in the season i crept by (my car did the creepin) a snowplow half-over-turned in the highway median …

    • I’m kinda liking the idea of a list that can bring one’s sorry tuchas out of the depths of despair–one that simply holds odd bits to do like: read horoscope, make cup of tea, eat last cupcake. Stuff like that there.
      Great advice, B.

  20. So funny! I have entire weeks where nothing gets crossed off my list and I can’t blame the snow. Loved the David Copperfield cartoon. Thanks for my morning giggle and I hope you get a break from the snow.

  21. At the behest of my wife I went an entire week last month without making a list. I still managed to get a lot done, but felt absolutely no sense of accomplishment….Back to the list making.

    • Oh, good heavens, you are a brave soul, aren’t you? I think I would have been crawling the walls with panic. Although, to be honest about my mounting lists and ability to scale them, it’s rocking horse manure rare to find a day where I feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day for completing a list. They just transfer over to the next day.
      One day maybe. I live with hope.

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