Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

Snowblower Envy
Matt Seinberg

Christmas has finally passed, and the awful music with it. Now I can actually go to work without wanting to put earplugs in. I started to think how the holiday passed without even a flurry of snow, and how grateful I was that I didn’t have to get the snow blower out of the garage.

The memories of winters past came rushing to the forefront of my brain, all from different times in my life. The first one I remembered is when my family lived in Poughkeepsie, New York, that’s Dutchess County, and I was in 5th grade, about 10 years old. We had a blizzard so bad we had a snowdrift cover the front door, and most of the garage door.

As my father and I stared at each other wondering what to do, our neighbour, from across the street, rode over to us on his lawn tractor, with the snow blower attachment. Mr. Karteganer, our neighbour, was a lifesaver, as I’m sure my father would have had a heart attack doing anything with a shovel.

After Poughkeepsie, we moved to Spring Valley, New York, about 45-minutes south in Rockland County. I was in 7th grade then, probably 12 years old and the junior high school was about three blocks away. I was getting ready for school, and while it wasn’t snowing hard, it was coming down pretty steady.

By the time I started walking towards school, the snow was really coming down hard. What was strange that I didn’t see any other kids walking to school! Was I the only idiot that hadn’t heard about the closing on the radio? Yes!

I got to school, but it had closed for the day. Although I was happy to have a snow day, I wasn’t happy to be soaking wet and very cold. I trudged back home, growled at my parents for making me going out in that mess, changed and went back to my nice, warm bed.

From Spring Valley, we moved to Plainview, New York, in Nassau Country, on Long Island. On 13 January 1978, a major snow and ice storm hit Long Island, leaving thousands of homes without power for days. The next day, another three inches of snow fell, causing more damage and power outages.

I was still living at home, and we didn’t own a snow blower. It took us days to dig out from under all that snow. After a while, you just wonder where you’re going to put all that snow. If you didn’t park the car in the driveway, the snowplows buried it.

We were living in Westbury, New York when this next blizzard hit Long Island on January 7-8, 1996. This one stands out because Michelle was born on January 5; we had brought her home on January 6. Luckily, I had stocked up on lots of baby supplies at the CVS across the street.

My mother-in-law, Liz, had come for a visit, and ended up staying with us for about a week because there was so much snow that the roads were impossible to drive on, and our parking lot was loaded with snow. It was so bad there was no place to put the snow, so the co-op had to hire a pay loader and dump truck to take the snow out of the parking lot. We spent a week stranded in our apartment.

Picture a newborn baby, new parents and a new grandmother cooped up in a two-bedroom apartment. I think it took about two days before we started to get on one another’s nerves. Luckily, there was plenty of alcohol in the apartment, along with two television sets.

Does anyone remember the Presidents Day Blizzard of 2003, which lasted from February 14-19? I do, because I was supposed to have a job interview and there was no way I was driving from Westbury to Brooklyn. I rescheduled and ended up going about 10 days later. I got the job.

In August 2006, I went with Melissa to Sears and finally bought a snow blower. I wasn’t going to kill myself shoveling snow anymore. We have a one hundred foot driveway, a long front walkway and another 100-foot sidewalk. This was by far the best $600 I ever spent.

Fast forward to 26 December 26 2010, when 12-to-30 inches of snow dumped on the Northeast. I got the trusty snow blower out and proceeded down my driveway, clearing not only my sidewalk, but also driveway for the widow next door and three other neighbours. I figure that while it’s running, it pays to be a nice person and help the neighbors.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and not have to use it this year.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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