Although the snow was coming down lightly, enough had accumulated to cover everything in a soft, glittering white. There were a few people walking on the streets. Brave souls who had errands to run or wanted to see the city in its quietness — a contrast to an average day.
I wasn’t really sure how, but from my seat behind the snowplow wheel, I knew that once the light turned green, it was my job to clear the road for the cars behind me.
As a reporter, my job has taken me to interesting places, and pushed me out of my element a couple of times. This assignment was no different, but since they offered to let me try, I figured I better give it a go.
They sent me out as the front plow, giving me the task of clearing the center line. It’s a job that is trickier than is sounds when you can’t see the center line, let alone the where the road ends, and I assumed that cities are not thrilled when you decide to redesign the curb’s curve with a misplaced steel blade.
The gas pedal required a more pressure than my little car, but gradually I eased into the intersection and began sending up a dense cloud of snow visible in my right mirror.
It took me a little bit to find the center, but once I did, I was able to maintain a fairly straight path, only changing course for crazy drivers who insisted on scooting out in front of me before getting caught in my wake.
At my first turn, I almost hit a semi. In fact, I was sure I was going to.
A snowplow is a lot of truck to maneuver, and I took the advice of “make a wide turn” a little too seriously.
In spite of my crescendoing oh-nos, the woman behind me had the presence of mind to grab the wheel and prevent me from fish-tailing all over the place.
As I steadied my course again, I could hear the snowplowing veterans to my left chuckling. What a rookie mistake.
The rest of the drive continued without incident and when I felt the wheel rumble as I crossed the railroad tracks, the simulation suddenly ended. I let out the tension I didn’t know I had been holding with a sigh.
It’s hard work keeping an eye out for errant drivers and icy patches, not to mention having to remember to lift your blades and spread sand at the right moments.
Afterward, the trainers showed me all the other simulations they could have thrown at me. I silently thanked them for not making the drive as difficult as they could have.
One of them suggested that if this whole writing thing doesn’t work out, I could start a whole new career as a snow plow driver.
Considering I had just beating the score he had earned earlier, I thought I probably could.
On the other hand, it did take me at least 15 minutes to complete the maybe 10- block course.
And there was that whole semi incident. . .
Perhaps it would be wiser to stick with words and leave the plowing to the pros.