After serving in the Second World War, my father spent his next few years in the all but unpronounceable Schenectady, New York, where snow is just another word for winter. Up there, they don’t close schools ’til the front door is blocked by a six-foot wall of white in the morning.
Dad soon became an expert on how to shovel a driveway, and Bob G. could also fleetly clean off a car enveloped in several feet of fresh fall. No prob.
Dad wasn’t a guy to miss work, so he did what needed doing. I took after him in that way. The snow removal way, I mean. It didn’t hurt that I had three sisters. On snow days, they did the dishes; I shoveled like a man possessed.
Thus, emerging here in Durham early last Thursday, about noon, to tackle my car laden with untouched snow, I feared not. OK, it wasn’t that early, but I did notice that few of the dozens of cars in the parking area were snow-free. Must have been a “Storage Wars” marathon on.
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Fact is, that morning I’d watched a little post-storm tube on ’RAL, mostly because Lynda Loveland has been anchoring a lot recently with David Crabtree, doing snow coverage. I’d watch Lynda deliver mail, not just the news.
Outside in the elements, knowing I had my sweeper/blade combo snow thing poised and ready, I was pleased to be only 10 minutes and $4.75 away from coffee at Starbucks. Seven to clear; three to drive.
There I was minding my business, actually just using my arm to attack the snow on the car. Then I saw her. The woman who drives a rusty, near-ancient gray Lincoln. She was heading right toward me.
I hadn’t noticed her vintage vehicle next to mine, suffering under the weight of its own white. I nodded to her. She went to work barely three feet from me.
I continued with my Olympic record removal when I noticed: Lincoln lady wore no gloves. Had no nifty snow removal gear. She also had her windshield wipers on so fast I thought they were going to fly off and hurt somebody.
I watched her spread the snow around with an exposed index finger. I saw said finger approach blue. I stopped addressing my car.
“Ma’am,” I said. “I see no gloves on your hands. Must be a mistake.”
Her English was a little halting. “It’s OK,” she said.
“No,” I said. “It’s not.”
I gave her spare pair and then took to the Lincoln lady’s Lincoln. No permission asked. In a few moments, I asked her to turn off the wild windshield wipers.
The clean-off was a piece of frosted cake. Then I looked back at Lincoln lady. She had the gloves bunched in one hand and was picking at the side mirror with her other one. Her fingers now frightened me.
“Ma’am,” I said. “The gloves are for wearing.”
She said, “thank you,” and then put them on the roof of my car.
“You better get on going,” I said. “Be careful out there, will you?”
She thanked me again and got in. Her Lincoln looked good as old. Off she went.
Head shaking, I set off toward my garage to get something. Then I saw him. Person No. 2. His silver, late model sedan was parked right next to my garage. I could not avoid him. Good thing.
P2 had just begun to tackle the snow on his car … with a small wooden spoon. The kind used with a similar fork to stir salad and move lettuce from bowl to plate.
It was going to take P2 a week to get the snow off his car with a salad spoon.
“Sir,” I said. “Better to put the spoon down. Place it on the car right there where you cleared off that two inch space.”
“Thank you,” he said.
“Now turn the car on,” I said. “Blast the heat.” Done.
“Where are you from?” I said. “India,” he answered. “The warm part. I’ve never seen snow like this.”
“Really?” I said. He also wore no gloves.
“Tell you what,” I said. “Why don’t I just clear the car? I’ve done this a few times before.”
I started again with my wide arm-sweeping motions. Fancy car clean-up was soon finished. No snow. Spiffy.
“Thank you,” P2 said.
“I have to go to the post office,” he added.
“Well,” I responded. “You are now ready to go.”
As P2 got into his car, I saw the wooden spoon on the hood.
“Better get that spoon, “ I said.
“Thank you,” he said. “My wife wouldn’t want me to lose it.”
“I’m sure,” I said.
P2 drove away, waving. Somewhere, Bob G. was smiling. I puffed my chest out.
Lessons learned, dad.
You can reach Tom Gasparoli at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-219-0042.