Lum: Trouble in the alley |

Lum: Trouble in the alley

Su Lum

Last Friday, in the midst of the great storm, the dachshunds burst into full yoiking, ointing and baying at the front door, announcing a stranger. Wondering who in the world had managed to get through the gate and up to the house in all that snow, I opened the door to find a snow-covered messenger with some nasty news.

His trash truck, he said, was stuck in the alley and had slid up against my parked VW Beetle. They were in the process of trying to extricate their truck.

“How bad is it?” I asked. “We don’t know yet,” he replied, shaking himself off, adding, “It doesn’t snow like this in Nevada. I should move back to Nevada.”

I suppose that this was when I — who had not yet showered or shampooed and looked like an escapee from a mental institution — should have put on my clothes and a hat, put in my hearing aids, filled up my portable-oxygen tank, put on my boots and coat and gone out there to see for myself what was happening. But just then my friend Hilary arrived, took some photos and when, after a couple of hours, the trash truck pulled free, Doug, my shed-renter, took more photos, exchanged information with the driver, called in a police report and dealt with the officer.

Unless it’s absolutely necessary, my tendency is to take the Scarlett O’Hara position: “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

My Beetle is a 2001 model with 44,000 miles on it. Everybody in town has hit it, a ton of ice slid off one of the sheds and crushed the sunroof five or six years ago, a bear stood on it trying to get into the dumpster leaving scratches and green paint (back when the dumpsters were green), which I refused to remove, and I’ve done my own share of scrapings to the car over the years.

The guys told Doug my back fender was crushed and that the tire was flat — information that compelled me to finally make the journey to the alley, only to find the Beetle looking like one of those marshmallow-covered cupcakes, covered with two feet of snow. The tire in question was so deep it was impossible to determine whether it was flat, and I had to get it out of its spot in the alley in order to assess the damage.

Of course to get it out, it had to be plowed from behind and Snow King, my excellent snow removers, were in over their eyeballs, their shovelers looking as if they should be in the emergency room.

Meanwhile, I was leaning on the trash company to get it out, which they did, giving access to the whole parking area by Snow King. The mirror was dangling, the small rear side window was smashed and I have a bunch of brand new scratches which I prefer to consider artwork, but the tire was not flat and the car was driveable and seems to be otherwise ok, fingers crossed. Free at last.

The trash company denied responsibility but said they’d pay for it, a dichotomy I won’t argue with.

All’s well that ends.

Being without my car for five days gave me a taste of what it would be like if I were too infirm to get about on my own and had to have people run errands and take me to the store and library and up to Aspen Valley Hospital for physical therapy. I had laid in a huge amount of provisions but it’s amazing how fast you can go through the larder and how quickly cabin fever can set it.

That taste was extremely unpleasant.

Su Lum is a longtime local who saw an even bigger snow in April of 1965. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at