My Snow Blower

snowblower-800pxThe guy who plowed my driveway and I had a disagreement over what it means to be a snowplow driver.

In my view, the job was all about showing up on time and removing snow from the driveway.

He saw things much differently.

In his view, time played no role – but the sound, power and fury of plowing did.   He would storm into my yard two days late and launch a shock and awe campaign against the hedges, bird-baths, yard gnomes and patio furniture.  After he had spent his rage, he would gouge a long brown scar across my lawn, leaving the driveway untouched.

We quickly parted ways.  I guess, he just wasn’t cut out for the job.

Which got me thinking.

While it is wise to avoid stereotypes, sometimes stereotypes work surprisingly well. Some people fit their careers so perfectly it is almost like they were born into it.  I knew a girl in third grade, who was more of a teacher than our nun and no one was surprised when she went into education.  I have worked with cops who you could not imagine being anything else.

It works the other way around too. 

We all know the barista who is really an actor or the football coach who dreams of being a general or even the general who yearns to a football coach – but these people are rarely happy.  They are often ill-suited for what they do.

Which brings me to my snow blower.

After firing my snowplow driver, I went out and bought a blower – and have been struggling with it ever since.  I am not sure my snow blower really wants to be what it is. Its heart seems to be elsewhere.

When I pull the chord to start it, the little guy complains endlessly how he would rather sleep in.  Once I get him moving, he coughs and stutters and meanders aimlessly down the driveway, picking at the snow the same way a petulant child pokes at a glob of spinach.

So I called my buddy Stan. 

Stan can fix anything because he knows what machines want. You might say he is a machine whisperer. 

“What’s the problem?” Stan asked.

“My snow blower is not cut out to blow snow,” I said.

Stan appeared skeptical, so I expounded on my theory.  

You see, things like snow blowers are made from generic parts. The engine could just as easily go into a lawn-mower or even a go-cart. The same goes for the wheels.  It is only when all of these parts come together that the machine realizes what it has become – and perhaps that is when my blower got depressed. Maybe it really wanted to be something else. Something that does not spend the joyous months of summer locked away in a dank shed and only allowed out in the lonely depths of winter.

As I prattled on and on, I watched Stan cradle the engine in his hands and run his fingers over the cables and wires.  He gently rocked the blower back and forth and whispered to it as he does all of his machines.

“So what’s the prognosis,” I asked, “is it depressed or maybe caught up in some forbidden desire?”

“Naw,” he said, ”you are reading too much into it.”

He made a few adjustments then pulled the chord and the snow blower chirped to life.

“The problem,” Stan said, “was the technician who set it up. The guy did a horrible job.  People like that should find a new line of business.”

Author: Almost Iowa

60 thoughts on “My Snow Blower”

  1. I wish my sister Meg was online. She would really enjoy this. Living on her New Hampshire mountainside with her narrow, curved, rock-bedevilled driveway, she has a hellish time convincing the small plow dudes to risk nicking their blades. Without them, the family’s snowblower is the only option. Yet she can barely hold the handle with her autocidally-damaged hands–chronic inflammation of the tendons.

    So, Meg really wants a snowplow to do the work, yet has her own stories of plow-dude ineptitude.

    1. “Yet she can barely hold the handle with her autocidally-damaged hands”

      Ouch! Snow blowers can be hard to wrestle around. I looked at putting a blower attachment on my lawn tractor – $2,000. 😦

      1. Understand, she shares a house with TWO men.

        Okay, to be fair, they do both work full time and she no longer works, and this is New Hampshire: If she waited until they came home, they might need four men and two blowers to finish and get some sleep before work. And she has daylight to work in.

  2. I’ve got a friend like Stan, he can fix everything but makes me feel like a high school dropout berating me for not knowing this or that on small engine machinery.

  3. I left snow country before snow blowers were invented, so I tend to ponder different sorts of machinery. For example, I’m pretty certain that your theories apply to outboard motors. It’s my observation that they’re the most passive-aggressive of all engines. They’ll start like a dream, toodle you across the bay, and then, just when the storm’s rising on the horizon and you need to leave now! to make it to safety: pffffffttt. It’s like they’re saying, “Whacha gonna do now, big guy?”

    1. I am all too familiar with that tendency in outboard motors – but being a designer of critical systems myself, it is no mystery why they fail when they do. We, the designers, write that failure in. As you can see by the manual (you did read the manual didn’t you?) there is always section (sometimes not so well marked) that warns the operator to never rely on the device during critical times and always plan for an emergency. To hammer in this realization, we write sophisticated routines to sense when times are critical and shut the system down….it is all called the “we told you so” function.

  4. I happen to agree with you on the blower not wanting to be a blower. I bought an expensive reel mower to cut my Bermuda grass. The mower refused to work and so I took it back and got another. This one starts with one pull and is so happy to mow the grass you can almost hear it humming a tune. I have to believe the other mower wanted to be a snow blower.

  5. My snowblower is really a 7 year old kid. You know, the one from around the block who eats boogers and that school glue. Logic and reason are lost on him/it. And I think my snowblower’s nephew, one of those whiney miniature rototillers that can’t dig through peat moss, has stock in the company that makes shear pins for snowblower blades. Seems my big husky 10 horsepower blower insn’t satisfied with a diet of snow and slush. It manages to find not one, not two but three rolled up newspapers under the snow to gobble up and choke on. New shear pins that are a pain to put in with cold wet hands. But that still doesn’t meet the booger limit. Somehow a discarded dog leash, one with a heafty chunk of chain attached, was on the menu. More shear pins and red, numb fingers. I give up. I’ll pay the darn Township fine and let the sidewalk alone.

    1. “It manages to find not one, not two but three rolled up newspapers under the snow to gobble up and choke on.”

      My neighbor loses a shear-pin a week to frozen dog dew. The dog is his and is a big one.

  6. Hilarious!! Your poor Snow Blower- all he needed was a little love! I’m pretty sure every machine that enters my life wishes they were something else. Luckily I often help them along. For instance, I’m pretty sure my last computer really wanted to be a dolphin (you could just tell)- so I dumped water all over it to help him out! Sadly it didn’t turn out too well, but if reincarnation turns out to be a think then there’s probably one very happy dolphin out there…

    1. I have never had a computer who wanted to be a dolphin. Dinosaurs, definitely but no dolphins. I had a television who wanted to be a yak though. Once I explained what a yak is, it changed its mind.

  7. Having used these many times over the years, each is different. It takes finesse to use them and knowledge of each individual engine, to coax it to life whether a two cycle or four cycle version. Using a snow plow takes skill and finesse too. Good thing you fired the bum.

  8. Your hired snow guy(s) sounded like a swat team of Keystone Cops. I had my own blower problem last year. We had only two big snows. The first one was kind of late in the season. My blower started then promptly died after a minute. I could restart, then it died in a minute. The neighbors on both sides were so elated to be out with their big toys. They came over and did my drive and walk in no time.

    Next snow I couldn’t even get the thing going. Thanks to the neighbors again. I took the machine to the shop. Three weeks later it was done. Got it started the next snow and it died like before. I loaded it up and went back to the shop. “How you doing?” he asked in a chipper voice. “Not well” I said sternly and explained why. It got fixed in short order with a 25¢ part.

    It works this year, too. 🙂

    1. It sounds like we live in parallel universes, places where all events mirror the other. I love how neighbors leap to help each other. There is nothing more fun than doing that.

  9. I could picture your wife out there clearing the drive with a shovel in 15 minutes while you guys were musing the gestalt of blowers. She’s the warrior whisperer 😊

  10. I never thought reading about a snowblower could be so interesting and entertaining. Well done. I put off buying a snow blower for several back-breaking years. Last year I gave in and bought one. Only used it twice as snow fall never amounted to much. This year – all this week – it is going to be 40+ degrees with a rain storm in the forecast. My snowblower is sleeping in so far and for the foreseeable future. This is the type of insurance I do not mind buying into.

    1. Yup, it never fails. We have an El Nino winter coming and will probably have no need for shovels and blowers – until March, then it will dump on us all spring. In Almost Iowa, we still remember the May 15th blizzard: 18 inches.

  11. Stan’s right. My power equipment dealer looks everything over after he sells it. The stuff is ready to go, but he likes to make sure before you take it home. My snow blower takes center stage in the shed next weekend.

    1. When I decided to buy the blower, I asked around and everyone told me about a couple who ran a hole in the wall business in a town about 30 miles away. I drove over there to learn that they repaired snowblowers but didn’t sell them…. so I stopped at The Big Box store on the way back….I know, I know, I never learn.

  12. Nice to know that the technician was more a candidate for counseling than the snow blower was! Another very entertaining post, Almost Iowa — with some accumulation of seriousness.

    1. I was thinking, maybe the ghost of Charles Schultz could ask Lucy to set up her psychiatry booth in our yard, when she runs out of people to counsel, she could analyze the machines and wildlife.

  13. Lol….now that’s funny. Except when you run into people like your snow plower who really should have been a demolition car driver and maybe is, then it’s hard to laugh at what remains of your property when he’s done..:)

    1. And people like that are out there. We had an addition put on to our house – and didn’t budget having to replace our lawn because of the back-hoe, cement truck and tractor trailers delivering material.

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