Friday, December 25, 2009

"The Big Dig"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate

As a man who has been perpetrating snow jobs all his life, which is 55 years and counting, I can safely say that the recent blizzard dumped more of the white stuff on my driveway on Long Island, N.Y., than anywhere else on the East Coast.

I know because I got two feet, which I used to trudge out to the driveway to shovel the two feet of snow that buried my car, my wife’s car and, very nearly, me.

At first I tried to use the Little Snow Blower That Couldn’t, which gasped when it saw the winter wonderland and said, "I think I can’t, I think I can’t." Then it coughed, wheezed and breathed its last. I was going to bury it in a snowdrift, in a solemn service with the words "died of fright" etched into the frosty tomb, but I feared that prolonged exposure to the elements would kill me, too.

Ordinarily, when it comes to snow removal, I am a wuss, which stands for "wait until spring starts." But I figured this accumulation wouldn’t be gone until the Fourth of July, so I got out my trusty shovel.

Of course, I didn’t want to have a heart attack, so I smartly decided to pile the snow in front of the mailbox so the bills couldn’t be delivered. If they don’t give you a heart attack, nothing will.

After half an hour, I had made excellent progress, having pushed approximately six inches of snow out of the way. Then my next-door neighbor Ron, who had just finished clearing his driveway, came over with his snow blower, which was still working, and kindly cleared most of mine.

It was a big help because I had to get my car out of the driveway so I could drive my younger daughter and her boyfriend to the airport. They were flying to Paris, which they’ll always have, and their flight was still on, but the limo driver who was supposed to take them to JFK got cold feet.

It was up to me to get them to the terminal on time. By then, my condition was terminal.

After a quick lunch, I went back outside to get into my car, only to see that a plow had come along and dumped a huge mound of snow at the bottom of the driveway. At that point, I felt like getting plowed, but it’s never a good idea to drink and drive, so I grabbed my shovel and started to dig out again.

Fortunately, my neighbor Mike, who lives next door on the other side, came over to help. Mike, who is younger and stronger than I am, which doesn’t distinguish him from most other people, did the bulk of the work.

As we tossed aside the last shovelfuls of snow, a car got stuck at the intersection in front of my house. In the vehicle were two young women in their late teens or early 20s.

"You’re the only person I have ever seen actually stop at the stop sign and look what happened," I told the driver. She and her friend giggled.

Mike and I dug them out, then gave the car a push to get it going. "Thank you!" chirped the girls as they drove away, waving and honking in appreciation.

As proof that no good deed goes unpunished, as I was about to put my shovel away, not one but two other plows came along and dumped more snow at the foot of the driveway. I shouted a cheery holiday greeting that can’t be printed in a family newspaper.

Eventually I got out; drove my daughter and her boyfriend to the airport; marveled at how the storm had brought people, both friends and strangers, closer together; and realized that I am a man for all seasons except winter.

Next time it snows, I am going to drive back to the airport and get on a plane myself.

Copyright 2009 by Jerry Zezima

No comments: