Paul E. Anna: High Points
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
It has been the wackiest winter that I can remember. Early dumps before Thanksgiving. Drought-like spells in December that had the papers looking back at the winter of ’76. And now 8 feet of wind-scoured snow that comes in waves, but seems to blow away to who knows where.
But if you think it’s been weird for us skiers and daily-doers of the things we do, what do you think it has been like for those who drive the plow trucks?
Let me begin by expressing my admiration for the guys, and there must be a gal or two also, who spend their winters toiling to clear the roads for the rest of us. They drive by night and before the dawn, up the four-lane highways, down the winding mountain roads, around the circuitous single-lane driveways, all to make sure that we can get to where we are going on the snowiest of days.
How many times have you dropped behind a big truck at first light on a powder day, making your way through the residue of the previous evening’s big dump, hoping to get your butt in that first chair up the hill? There is a sense of security as the plumes of snow come flying off the blade, making piles on the sides of the roads but scraping the driving surface safe. It’s like being a scat back, following a big blocker through the opposition.
Without the plows, we would all be stuck by the simplest of 6-inch snowfalls. But when the trucks are rolling it takes a foot, maybe two, before we are rendered helpless.
So given the degree of esteem that I hold for these guys, I can’t help but feel sorry for them this winter. Sure, the CDOT guys are locked into pensions and 401ks. But the neighborhood drivers who make their day-to-day dollars signing contracts with individuals, homeowners’ associations and the like must be having a hell of a time making ends meet. I mean, you plan on X number of snow days in December, multiply that by the number of homes or agreements you have, then the number of hours you think it will take and then….nothing. Not only that, but to get the contracts to begin with, you have to make sure you’ve got the right equipment, a plow that works, and tires that will keep you from getting stuck in the stickiest conditions.
And then, even if all goes well, your lot in life is to get up when the rest of the valley goes to bed and drive in the deepest, darkest of nights alone with a just a lukewarm thermos of coffee. But, to paraphrase a line used for the postman, “Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night stays these plowman from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
These guys are heroes. Make sure you give them the right of way, pay them on time and remember them at Christmas.
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