Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Snow-blower Story

This is the story of the time not so long ago that I nearly packed my bag in the middle of the night and ran away to Florida.

For those of you who do not live in the Midwest, let me start by explaining that this winter has been downright brutal.  Every day that has not been bone-chilling cold has had snow falling.  We've had multiple days of schools being closed due to dangerously low wind chills, freezing rain, thunderstorms complete with pouring rain and hail and 50 mph winds.....all within a single month.

It has not been a great time to live in Wisconsin, let me tell you.  The kids haven't even been able to play out in the snow very much due to the awful temperatures, which really erases the most redeeming quality of winter in my opinion.

Anyway, I took the photo above on February 18th.  The day before, we had received about 7 inches of snow.  It was also the first day after Evan had left for China.  Before he flew out, he took me into the garage and showed me how to work the snow-blower, "just in case."  He showed me how to turn the "choke to full" (whatever that means), how to prime the fuel, and finally how to rip the cord to start it and how to turn it off.  He explained how the throttle worked, how to put it in gear, and how to engage the auger.  Basically, he showed me everything I needed to know to be able to operate the snow-blower.  It was really cold as we stood out in the garage that night (duh), so my brain kind of checked out by the end in favor of thinking about the couch and a fluffy blanket.

Fast forward 48 hours and my darling husband is safely landed on the opposite side of the planet and I'm watching the snow fall outside my window for hours and hours and hours.  I put Thomas down for a nap, turned on Spiderman on Netflix for Micah, and hopped in the shower so I could get myself ready for work before I headed out to tackle the snow in the driveway.  My plan was to just clear a quick path behind my car so I could get out and back in easily enough and then finish the rest of the job when I got home from work that night.  No sense busting my butt to do it all at 3:00 when the snow was still coming down really hard, you know?

Hair done, full makeup, work clothes on and covered up by fleece pants and a parka, I told Micah I was going outside to snow-blow for a few minutes and I'd be right back.  I had 30 minutes before the babysitter would be arriving and I would need to leave for work.  Plenty of time, I figured.

Now, every time Evan has cleared the snow, he has pulled the snow-blower out from its parking spot and brought it in between our vehicles in the garage and outside.  When finished, he would push it back into the garage, back between the vehicles, and secure it once again it its place next to our chest freezer.  I had seen him execute this maneuver multiple times with my own eyes.

So....when I walked into the garage that Monday afternoon, I did not for a second believe my experience would be any different.  I grabbed the snow-blower by the handles and began to pull it out, between the vehicles.  I got about halfway down the length of our Honda Accord before a thought jumped into my brain.

"Huh, " I said to myself, "This is going to be a little tight."

No sooner did the message flash across my cerebrum or cerebellum or whatever part of the brain is responsible for my internal monologue, but disaster struck.  You see, the recognition of the thought did not translate to action quick enough and the snow-blower suddenly stopped.

Confused, I looked down and saw that the back tires of the snow-blower were firmly wedged between the back tires of our car and our van.

Well, crap.

I was on a time schedule, people.  I had to leave for work in precisely 26 minutes so I did not have time to dink around with this kind of stuff.  I started to push the snow-blower forward in an attempt to dislodge it, but it didn't work.  Frustrated, I jolted the stupid thing every which way I could, trying to free it from its position, but it only got worse.  After a couple minutes, I realized that the snow-blower was stuck.....really REALLY stuck.

That's when the cursing started.

At this point, the cursed yellow beast was too committed to staying it its vehicular prison to be forced to go forward at all, so my only option was to try to pull it backwards to free it.  I used every ounce of energy I had to yank on that damn thing (yes, I just said damn), but it did no good.  I let out a guttural scream of "Noooooooo!!!!" and Micah popped his little head out the garage door to check on me.

"Mommy?  Are you ok?"

"GETBACKINTHEHOUSERIGHTNOW!!!!!!" I replied ever so calmly.

I stepped back and tried to slow my pounding heart and excessive rage that was started to cloud my thinking and ability to not throw things and go on a murderous rampage.  Defeated, I realized there was only one thing I could do.  I grabbed my keys and started to hop into the drivers seat of the van and the car, moving each one every so slightly every time in an attempt to free up even an inch of room.  Girding my loins, I grabbed the handlebars once again and I started to pray.

Father, I really did something epically stupid here.  I could really REALLY use your help in getting out of this mess.  I know what's about to happen and it isn't going to be pretty.  Please God, let this work.  And please, Lord.  Give Evan a very VERY forgiving heart when I finally work up the nerve to tell him about this.  Let's do this thing.  Amen.

Then I started pulling.  And pulling.  The sound I heard was a combination between a crowbar being drawn across a chalkboard and a cash register ringing up a whole lot of dollar signs.  It was excruciating to listen to.  I could see the yellow paint transfer almost immediately, but there was progress being made.  Just a little further..... 

I checked the clock on my phone and realized I had a mere 15 minutes left before I had to be on my way to work.  That's when I started taking photos, as any rational person would do.

Then I made a phone call to my place of employment and asked to talk to the manager on duty.

"Hello, Joe.  It's Sarah.  Yeah.....I am so sorry, but I'm not sure if I'm going to make it in on time today or even at all.  See, I um..........crap.  I can't get my car out of the garage because I have the snow-blower stuck between it and my van and I can't seem to move any of them. I have the photos so I can Tweet them to you so you know I'm not making this up."

I hung my head as I listened to the laughter on the other end of the phone.

Then I tweeted the photo above and the following photo to my boss:

Talk about a humbling moment.

With all pride erased, I got back to work.  Suddenly, in a glorious moment of triumph, it came free.  Victorious, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and shot a thank you up to Heaven.

Then I looked at the car.

I took this photo, said hello to the babysitter as she strolled up the driveway, and pulled the car out of the garage and put the snow-blower in its place.  Then I said goodbye to the kids, and tweeted the final photo to my boss with the message, "I'm on my way."

Oh how I wish that were the end of the story.

With seven inches of fresh, barely plowed snow on the roads, my drive to work threatened to kill me at every moment.  By the grace of God, I arrived alive.  Unfortunately, as you may imagine, most sane people do not go out to eat in the middle of a nasty snowstorm, so I ended up only having one table of two people before I was cut.  I earned $10, drove home, and paid my babysitter $40.  I donned my snowblowing gear once again, and waved to her with a big mittened hand as she walked down our street back to her house.

Following Evan's instructions to the letter, I fired up the snow-blower and got to work.  I had about a third of our driveway done when all of a sudden, something snapped.

And the snow-blower stopped working.  In a cruel twist of fate, a little hook on the end of a spring that was nowhere near any of the areas that had been involved in the craziness that had taken place hours earlier, had snapped the "eff" off and now there was nothing that could be done to engage the auger.

After all that the snow-blower wouldn't blow snow.

Faced with a busted snow-blower and an even more busted spirit, I had no choice but to grab the snow shovel and get to work at moving seven inches of snow from our driveway and all the sidewalks surrounding our corner lot.

It took me just over two hours and I felt like I had been hit by a bus.

I trudged into the garage and hung the shovel back on the wall, pulled the car out of the garage and pushed the now worthless snow-blower back into its parking space, then moved the car back inside the garage.  Closing the garage door, I shuffled into the house and collapsed onto the couch with a glass of red wine and a really bad attitude.

When I spoke to my darling husband about the whole debacle, I cried and yelled all in the same breath.  My anger, frustration, and wrath came exploding out with terrible force.

"I just don't understand!" I yelled.  "I have SEEN you pull the snow-blower out between the cars and push it back in the same way!  Why should I have any reason to believe it wouldn't work the same for me?"

After a short pause, my husband replied.

"What you haven't seen is that every time, I pull the car out of the garage and drive it back in, parking significantly closer to the wall than normal." 

It took every ounce of energy I had left not to immediately book a ticket on the next red-eye to Florida and get the heck outta dodge.

And that's the story of why I will never EVER touch that cursed machine again. 


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