Plowing into trouble

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 “Your article strikes a nerve with me. I am sure it is meant to make for some fun. I happen to be snowplow driver. I have been plowing snow for 13 years now. In 13 years I physically hit one mailbox with the snowplow itself. That was with a new plow that had not been adjusted properly.”

Litchfield snowplow driver objects
to drift of mailbox complaints
“Living Here,” Republican-American, January 21, 2008

I ‘ll be the first to admit it: Maybe I was a little harsh on snowplow operators yesterday.

This particular fellow was tired of all the grumbling and kidding he gets from the job, which is not an easy one. You have to maintain momentum on roads where obstacles may be hidden under the snow. You have to avoid sliding cars, sledding kids, and other plow contractors. And then an ingrate starts venting about his mailbox, or how the end of his driveway got plowed over.

Can’t say I blame him. If I came home after driving for hours in a blizzard and sat down to read some guy in a warm newspaper office make fun of me, I’d get hot under the collar, too.

I hope that after driving the plow since—what? 1995?—the anonymous writer is somewhere on a beach in Florida by now. He’d certainly be in good company. This year, because of the pandemic and supply-chain shortages, drivers with Commercial Driver’s Licenses, or CDLs, are hard to find. The really good money is going to long-haul drivers, who, ironically, depend on the plow operators to clear the path for them.

That leaves several parts of the country—particularly in the snowy Rocky Mountain states—with a shortage of plow operators this year. And that could just add to the whole supply-chain crisis if winter storms continue to wallop the heartland.

Plow drivers are hard to find here in the Northeastern U.S., too. One landscaping company that clears parking lots for malls and other clients is running slick help-wanted ads on Hartford television stations. A landscaper in Vermont who previously billed clients per plow-out switched to contracting for the entire winter. That gives him a fixed revenue for the season so he can plan his staffing in advance.

Even the solo contractor who has done our driveway for nearly 10 years now had to raise his rates this year because his costs, especially gasoline, are up.

Still, he takes it in good humor. So did the operator who inspired my first Mailbox Roulette column, in which I described my home-handyman repairs in which I mummified my mailbox in duct tape.

The day after that one appeared, I opened the mailbox to find a brand-new roll of duct tape—and a note saying how much he enjoyed the column.

Want to read more about the history of Mailbox Roulette? You can, online, at Newslibrary.com. Under Advanced Search, search for “Howard Fielding” in All Text, “Republican-American” in Source, and “Mailbox Roulette” in All Text.

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