Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snow Warriors

This is written in honor (and understanding) of the hard work and sacrifices made by all those who put their lives on hold every time there is winter weather in our forecast.

Anyone who has worked third shift, excruciatingly long hours, or a winter employed in the glam job of pushing snow will commiserate and understand that this, while perhaps amusing, is painfully near the truth.

January Snow-Event #21

A call to arms! - You just finished your regular 8-hour shift when you get the call to report for snow-duty. You are swept up in the excitement of the mass exodus of personnel and machines leaving the salt barn. You look at the sky a lot.

Hour 2 – Work is well underway. You are convinced that the motorists you’re dodging are very appreciative of your kind attention to their needs. There’s a lot of radio chatter about how the weather isn’t too bad and will probably pass soon.

Hour 4 – Third equipment breakdown. The weather is winning, but you continue to fight the good fight. You’re gloves smell like diesel fuel.

Hour 6 – To stay alert, you start to calculate overtime pay. You notice that you’re cursing more than usual.

Hour 8 – You’ve been talking to yourself for awhile now – you tell yourself to stop. The theme song from The Price is Right begins to play interminably in your mind.

Hour 10 – Whatever is decaying under the seat of the truck starts to smell good. You look longingly as you pass a closed Taco Bell before reaching an arm under the seat.

Hour 12 – You wonder if your brother-in-law’s offer to join him in his Port-O-Potty business is still open. You scrape both shins while climbing into the Bobcat to load your truck with salt.

Hour 14 – Your speech is becoming slurred and you have sudden, explosive episodes of uncontrolled laughter.

Hour 16 – Communications have come to a standstill. You make a mental note to stop rubbing your eyes and to call your doctor about whether calcium chloride causes permanent damage.

Hour 18 – You slam on your brakes when you see Bigfoot at the edge of the road... or was it a deer? You’re not sure because when you come to a stop, nothing is there.

Hour 20 – You no longer know what day it is. You search for what’s stinking up the truck before realizing it’s you.

Hour 22 – You encounter another salt-truck driver and you both pull up to have a word. You stare at each other blankly before moving on without saying anything.

Hour 24 – Involuntary muscle spasms rack your body. You think you may be losing control of your bladder and your hair hurts.

Hour 26 – You are jolted out of a semi-conscious state by the squawking of your dispatcher’s voice over the radio. You can remember nothing of the last two hours – but it looks like you got a lot done… this is good.

Hour 28 – You pull a fallen member of the salt-barn crew from the snow. He was face-down, but as near as you can tell he was only unconscious for about twenty minutes. He warms up in the truck but is too tired to remove his gloves and inspect for frostbite. Besides, he’s concerned that a couple fingers may come off with the gloves.

Hour 30 – You are experiencing symptoms of organ failure. The call comes to return to the shop, wash and fuel your truck, repair your equipment and fill out your time sheet - this should not take more than three hours. You ask for driving directions to your home.

Finally! – You’re home, showered and in bed for some much deserved sleep. The phone rings, “We need you to come back in. There’s drifting, and we need to plow before the morning commute gets underway.”

You’re blind in one eye, have oozing wounds on both shins, and have lost the ability to speak – these are not excuses to shirk your responsibility.

You cheerfully report for duty – and I thank you!

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