20191020 00160 11 minutes
Murphy’s Law, Parkinson’s Law, Country Life, Winter, Snow Plowing

As the saying goes, it will. I’m told that is Murphy’s law, but I know it as Parkinson’s.

For the last three years I have shoveled my driveway. The several plow people did such rotten jobs and caused so many problems, which I had always had to shovel and clean up afterwards anyway, that I decided it wasn’t worth the money or stress.

Before the first big storm, this year, my daughter informed me, in no uncertain terms, that I must NOT shovel any more. I was more than happy to comply. I decided that, having shoveled for the last forty nine years, I have done my share and I was going on strike. I figured that I’m old enough to call it quits.

Before the driveway fills up with snow, I will leave the car half way down our private road, off the road, and walk to it. My driveway is steep, not terribly long but difficult to get out of in the snow. I live on the side on a mountain and there is a steep drop-off on the downhill side. Just beyond the drop-off is my propane tank. I have been building up a bigger turnaround, with all the leaves in the fall, and hay on top. To stop vehicles from going over the edge I have four reflectors, and in the fall I built a barricade with tree trunks and branches, and put four tires and buckets of sand beyond them.

Before the first big storm my landlord agreed that I shouldn’t shovel and he would take care of having the driveway plowed. He was concerned about what would happen if there was an emergency. After the storm the plow arrived and brought the snow down the driveway. I would be able to get out! Then the driver tried to turn around and managed to slip off the driveway above the turnaround, into the trees. The plow was one side of a tree, the truck the other. It took a couple of bigger trucks before the truck was freed, and only after the plow was detached from the truck. Of course the snow was left in the driveway and I didn’t hear any more from my landlord about having the driveway plowed.

The forecast for the last storm was more serious and I was supposed to be taking care of my daughter’s dogs at the weekend but I didn’t know if I would be able to get out by then. I would have to park the car by dragging my case etc. on the sled, half way down the road. Not a fun project. When I told my daughter my predicament she said I should have the driveway plowed and she would take care of it for me. “Find someone to plow.” I contacted the man who plows the road and went to bed happy.

The dogs were barking when I woke in the morning, signifying that the plow was indeed in the driveway. I dressed quickly, hoping to catch him before he finished and was gone.

Indeed I was in time.

He had tried to turn around and had slipped off the edge of the non-existent “turn around.”

What followed was better than a three-ring circus.

To start with, he tried to reverse the truck out, not realizing that in so doing he was slipping farther and farther off the driveway, and over the smaller logs and the big log/tree trunk which was the basis for the barricade. By the time I got out there he was mad. And got madder. In fact I began to be concerned that he knew no words of more than four letters, and only two of those. His parting shot was: “This is going to cost you a whole lot.” I called my daughter who disagreed, and my landlord, who concurred with her. I called my lawyer and left a message and figured if the plow man followed through I would simply refer him to my lawyer.

Eventually another truck came to pull him out, but by then his wheels were astride the big log, which was frozen to the ground and the truck was probably resting on it. The small logs, about 8’-10’ long, were moveable, but not the big one. The new truck also tried to slide sideways so it was disconnected from the plow truck and, when I went out with coffee and cake for them, I discovered it had left.

While the truck was away I tried to clear as much snow and as many logs and branches from under the stuck truck as I could. Obviously the less weight the tow truck had to move the better. And if the truck was pulled back over the logs I was afraid they could rip the underneath of the truck. As it was the gas line had been punctured. I got a big pile of “stuff” out before they got back, including several 6-8’ long logs, and lots of snow. The truck was almost clear, except for the big log. That was immoveable.

The next truck was a flatbed with a let-down extension to pull the truck onto it. It let down the extension and tried to pull the plow-truck out. The new truck started to slide towards the drop-off. I suggested anchoring it by first taking a chain around a tree to stop it from slipping. They tried it but the big log was too big to get the truck over it. The second tow truck left.

Then they brought in the BIG GUNS. A big tow truck, with lights flashing all over it, arrived.

I was told: “If this can’t get it out, nothing can.”

It came down the driveway but I suggested that it should rather be positioned on the road above the driveway, so it could pull the plow-truck out straight instead of from an angle. And that it also should be anchored around a tree to stop it from slipping.

Well, the road hadn’t been plowed beyond me, so the second plow-truck had to clear it. But it plowed most of the snow straight, instead of moving it off the road. They just wanted to clear enough so the big tow-truck could get in and operate.

The big truck drove up the road and into a snow bank. It got stuck and almost went over the edge. By the time it had been cleared, with lots of salt, it backed off and tried again. They eventually anchored it round a tree to stabilize it and then got a chain to the unhappy plow. By then there had been seven people involved, from the various trucks coming and going.

One of them, the father of the one who went over the edge, had told me, in no uncertain terms, that under no circumstances should I be living here. At my age I should be in senior housing, living in an apartment, and not out in the woods. I told him: “I like it here and intend to stay.” He was quite rude and insisted that I was wrong and should move immediately. The fact that he is fifteen years younger than me and looks about ten years older of course has no bearing on his opinion. But I was mad that he should presume to tell me where and how I should live.

The big truck started pulling and the plow truck slid along the frozen log. Eventually it rose up over it and was free. It began to manoever under its own power, straightened up and reversed back up the driveway. One truck out.

Next the flat bed left, to free the road for the big truck, which proceeded to go into another snow bank. By dint of lifting its wheels off the road, with its built-in jack-type feature, and lots more salt, it was freed and started back up the little rise on the road. It stopped before getting to the top of the rise and again got stuck. More jacking and more salt freed it again and this time it made it over the rise.

By then I realized that they had plowed the snow for the big truck and left most of it across the road so my neighbor would not be able to get out or in. I complained loudly and they said they would be back to fix it. They eventually left at 4.30 p.m. It took nine hours and my driveway wasn’t properly clear of snow.

Of course, they never came back and my neighbor was livid. She has enough problems shoveling tracks for her car to get in and out, without having an impenetrable wall of packed snow to contend with.

And the mess they left, for me to cope with, was amazing. The logs, the tires, the buckets of sand, were all churned up together in the leaves, and thrown against the propane tank. It took a full morning to clear it up – which I eventually did today because the next big snow is forecast for this evening.

The joys of living in the country.

All I can say is: “Thank heavens he didn’t hit the propane tank!” He had stopped only about three feet away from it. That would have been a horse of a very different color.