How Are We Going To Get Out Of Here?
The Day Before
Lain has speech therapy on Thursdays, and so we go to the elementary school that morning. Some kids are trying to taunt admin about the schools being closed on Friday. The office folks say the kids are dreaming.
Bernie Sanders rejoices as approaching snowstorm frees people from the tyranny of abundant variety pic.twitter.com/ilRjvxOd0j
— Daniel Lin (@DLin71) January 22, 2016
How would you like to be the product manager for that last loaf of bread? When a snow storm is coming, and everybody is looking for something and… oh, god, not that. That seems like an “It’s back to the drawing board” moment for your product.
Clancy ends up doing the pre-snow shopping, mostly because she was already going to be doing the shopping. It is… as you might have figured. Even before the Washington Post explains that people inordinately seek out junk on such occasions, Clancy reports that only the healthy stuff was left on shelves. Some of that is the general phenomenon, but some of it is the culture in which we live. There is a helpful sign above the line with the fewest people waiting in it. “Healthy Options” is local lingo for “This line has few people in it.”
One downside to shopping in a store that has been picked clean is that you’re disproportionately likely to get rotten stuff. Turns out the coffee cream Clancy got is bad. We discover it in the nick of time, before I have any. I’d noticed when I poured it that its composure was… odd. I assumed it had something to do with freezing at some point in the process. Clancy confirms through a little taste that it seems to have bad. But I don’t think I’ve had any.
That night we get an automated call. School is canceled for Friday the 22nd.
Grade Schoolers 1, School Administrators 0
Day of Impact
At around 12:45, I’m outside vaping and drinking coffee. Suddenly, I’m not interested in vaping anymore. Just as suddenly, I don’t need coffee anymore. I need to just… go inside, or something. Then I need to go to the bathroom. Then I need to vomit in the toilet. Then I need to collapse and lie there next to the toilet for a little while. If you’ve ever had a “motorized vomit” (where not only stuff comes out, but your body is aggressively sending it up), you know it takes a surprising toll on the body (well, it’s not surprising because you know, but anyway…). I just lie there, in the bathroom, by the toilet, for maybe fifteen minutes.
I eventually get up and moving again. Still not feeling well, but… sigh… I have to do some chores. That involves going down to the mailbox (expecting some ejuice, which shouldn’t be left outside in freezing weather), and also throwing some salt on the extensive and steep driveway. I get out and the snowing has begun. Doing chores in the snow is unpleasant under regular circumstances, but moreso when my body still feels like it’s going to crumble.
Oddly, within a couple hours, I feel better. I’ve gone from fine to sick to fine in two hours. Hungry, even. I have no idea how that works.
That night I call Jules, our snow plow guy. His phone isn’t on, so I leave a message saying that we”ll be fine on Sunday and Monday, but we really need the driveway cleared by Tuesday morning.
The Second Day
No word from Jules. It isn’t a storm in the sense that you might think about, but the snow keeps coming down with a very impressive consistency.
The Third Day
Still no word from Jules and I’m starting to get really concerned. I’d called him again to ask for an update, so there were two messages out and no returns. The snow finally let up. The city’s plows have been through. As usual, they had taken care of Ford Road up to the Burton house next door and then left. As it happens, Mrs Burton is the mayor of our tiny little town.
Not knowing what to do, I go out and start digging.
As it happens, digging through three feet of snow is not a very easy thing. Clancy is of the mind that with enough effort and perseverance, we can dig a way out by Tuesday. With each passing hour, I am less certain that’s the case. At first, I start digging a path for us just to be able to walk about. The ground is slippery, but not as bad as it could be. Besides, given the wall in front of me, if I slip and fall I’m not going to slide all the way down. That’s my only consolation.
Dig, dig, dig. Slip. Hurt. Dig. Ouch. Dig. This isn’t working.
That night I call our neighbors, the Sawyers. Jules was their plow guy before he was ours. No, he hasn’t heard from Jules. But he’ll give Jules a call. Jules is apparently taking his calls and tells him that he will be by Ford Road tomorrow. Oh, thank heavens, no more digging required. Mr Sawyer, on hearing that I’ve been digging, calls me stupid.
That night we get an automated call. School is canceled for Monday the 24th.
Grade Schoolers 2, School Administrators 0
The Fourth Day
You ever wake up with one of those feelings? I wake up with with one of those feelings on Monday morning. The feeling is that Jules isn’t coming. Clancy has the same feeling. My back still hurts from my fall, so she starts digging.
The feeling ameliorates at about noon, when a team arrives and starts to work on Ford Road and up the Sawyers’ drive. Typically, because Sawyer has been with them longer, they take care of the Sawyers and then us. They take their time with the Sawyers, meticulously ridding every single inch of their drive of snow. Around 5:00, we start getting really nervous. I call Jules again to confirm that they were going to take care of us after they took care of the Sawyers. No answer; I leave a message. Finally I just park myself outside, as they are almost done with the Sawyers, to ask the guys working. (Jules isn’t with the team.)
I ask, and I do not get the answer I need. They say they have to take care of another house across town, then maybe they’ll get to us. But they’re tired and they can only take care of one more house. So, good luck with all that.
I call Jules again, more panicky. We don’t have to get out that night, but it will be critical to get out in the morning. I’m getting really agitated because we’d told them when we needed to get out and that if there was a problem to keep us apprised of the situation. Clancy is livid because the Sawyers didn’t need to get out and we do, and they took care of the Sawyers first. She calls him and leaves a sharper message.
Within a half an hour, Jules calls back. His equipment has broken down. He isn’t sure if they will be able to get to us tonight. Or tomorrow, or when.
Upon hearing this message, Clancy goes out and starts shoveling like a madwoman, while I start making calls. I call our general handyman to see if he knows anyone. He puts us on to his cousin. We offer the cousin $300 if he can get us out tonight (usual rate: $75). He says he’s too tired and wants to go home and get some rest. Handyman tries others, but nothing pans out.
Clancy shovels, shovels, shovels. Then, like a gift from heaven, she sees the Fosters, who live down the way, shoveling from the other end. Mr Burton is literally yelling at Mr Foster about engaging in snow removal on a public road without being qualified to do so. Foster tells him that he can’t argue now, he’s busy digging. (The Fosters and Burtons apparently have a history.) Together, Clancy and the Fosters create a path through which Clancy can walk out. Said neighbor also offers to drive her to work on Tuesday, and she can rent a car in Millsburg. So the immediate catastrophe is averted. But with Jules out of commission, what are we going to do?
That night we get an automated call. School is canceled for Tuesday the 25th.
Grade Schoolers 3, School Administrators 0
The Fifth Day
While Clancy is able to get out, I am still stuck. Also, Clancy has to walk a long and dangerous path every time she leaves. The weather reports are suggesting that it could take more than a week for the snow to melt. I could sit tight for a bit, but I need to get out. Also, rental cars cost money. I call Handyman’s cousin and leave a message, but don’t hear back. I also find some names off Angie’s List and another website, and make some calls with no returns. By now, my back is feeling better, and so while Clancy is at work, I park Lain in front of the TV and dig, dig, dig.
Around noon, Clancy finds the number of an emergency line that has a list of people who are taking calls. This is the first valuable lead we’ve had: I get a call back pretty quickly. He’s worried about the incline I describe, but he’s sure we can figure something out. A couple hours later I haven’t heard from him. I text him and he informs me that his equipment has broken down. But, unlike Jules, Second Plower is able to get it working again. He comes by around 6:00pm.
Unfortunately, he takes one look at the incline and decides there’s virtually no way he’ll be able to get all the way up it. He says he’ll push it as far as he can. A half hour and ten feet later, he admits defeat. He says he’ll call some friends to see if anyone has better equipment, and he leaves.
I never hear from him again.
That night we get an automated call. School is canceled for the rest of the week.
Grade Schoolers 6, School Administrators 0
The Sixth Day
As it turns out, Second Plower has made a wall with his efforts, and so it takes some work for Clancy to be able to get out again. Some of the snow has melted, though, so it’s no longer anything you can’t slosh through. Second Plower also really packed the snow he worked on, which would become a factor later on.
Dig, dig, dig.
This time, trying to dig enough so that we can get a car out. The meltage and gravity has packed in all of the snow, but at least there’s less of it. Lain is loving all the TV she’s getting to watch, but I’m tired of digging and Clancy is tired of fielding questions about why we haven’t called Jules about clearing our drive. One of the neighbors gives us the number of someone to call, but that person is tired of plowing and uninterested in extra work.
Dig, dig, dig.
The Seventh Day
More headway. By about 2:30pm, the walking path has almost become a driving path. I have about 10-15 feet still left to clear, as well as figuring out what to do about the ice that was packed by Second Plower. Exhausted and needing a break, I make my way inside. While resting, I get a call from Jules. His systems are running again. Do we still need help to get out. After days and days of begging to the high heavens for a plow, I immediately say yes.
Fifteen minutes later, I’m looking out the window and realizing just how little there is left to do. If I could get my muscles back, I could even finish that day. The sticking point is that there still isn’t room to turn the cars around. So I text Clancy asking how much she objects to having to back out all the way on to Ford. She’s still very angry at Jules and anxious to tell him to go to hell, so backing out is not a problem. I call Jules back and decline his services and get back to work.
Immediately it seems that I have cut off my nose to spite my face. Second Plower’s snow and ice are simply immovable. I throw a bunch of salt on it, but… man. It sure would be nice to have Jules. So another day without being able to get out. However, I feel pretty confident that tomorrow is the day. Surely the salt will weaken the ice so that I can do something about it.
The Second Week
The salt did nothing. It’s reasonably clear that the car is going to be driving over ice. Which isn’t the end of all hope, because the Forester has All-Wheel Drive. So as long as I can keep two tires on the road at any given time, I can get out and likely back in. The Camry will be able to get out, but maybe not back in. Will the Mayor ticket us for technically being parked on Ford Road, even if we’re not blocking anything? A question for another time. Worst case, Clancy is parking our car at the Parkers’ instead of a rental. I confirm that the Forester is able to get out and back in. We’re set. I let Clancy know she can turn in the rental. Clancy does some more shoveling to take care of the Second Plower’s ice patch, and the job is done.
I feel very good about having turned Jules back around. Yes, we have to back the car(s) up a long ways, but we did it! The Second Plower cost us more work than he saved, so, with a bit of help from the Parkers, we did it almost on our own.
We get a heat spell soon after, and everything starts to melt. Then the Deck Rain starts. The Deck Rain is the ice melting on the second-story deck, creating the sense of rain below it. It sort of feels like the cartoons where the rain follows a character around. Except, in my case, it simply hovers in one place – the one place I want to be while letting the dog out or vaping.
But I’ll take the rain, real or not.