Wednesday, February 21, 2007

An Icy Excavation

So yeah, I feel like I have passed a test or been initiated or something, as had to dig my car out of the snow last weekend for the first time. I had given Aviva a bit of crap for the tiny, cute shovel she kept in her car ... but I gotta tell you I would have given anything to have a shovel half that size about 48 hours ago.

So last week was a big storm, or at least the biggest we have had this year, and I have queried all my NY contacts and all of them say that the storm is a reasonably large one. Anyway, it dumped snow on us, which was great ... I spent several days just glorying in its whiteness and beauty. The day after the storm we got so much snow that no one who lived more than 5 blocks from Einstein came to work ... except Cheo, who is crazy and just barreled down the Hutch in his minivan to get to work. "Don't worry PJ, there is no one on the road and I only drive 55." Now I just watched a number of SUVs and other cars spin out going 35 the last time there was ice on the roads, and at that point there was way less than there is now. Crazy Chilean ... its like he has a symbiotic relationship with winter. He walks around outside with just a long-sleeve shirt when it is maybe 15 out. I think in the summer he will melt.

Anyway, the snow stayed pretty for 2 days, then it got nasty and slushy and the roads were flooded and ridiculous and everyone was grumpy except me and Cheo, me for the novelty and Cheo for the cold. I was also pleased because I did not have to drive in the ridiculous weather, my car was happily nestled into its parking spot a few spaces down from my building, on the correct side of the street to avoid snow pile up ... so on Saturday afternoon, after my epic push-up/yoga workout (which I do because there is too much snow on the ground to safely run without using my face to stop), I stroll out of the building intending to take my car up the street to the car wash/oil change and then head over to Avivas.

I figure its been a few days and it is much warmer now, like in the mid 30's, so I will not have any problems getting the car out. In fact, I have to admit, I did not even think about possibly having to get the car out until I saw that there was still snow around it. You see, despite my higher education, I am actually rather dull and had not considered the fact that just because the weather was over 32 degrees, the snow would not all turn to water immediately. In fact, this is so far from reality that I would have to draw you a map for you to find your way into my alternate universe ... the snow stays, forever. Just like in the mountains where you ski. Its not such a novel concept, I just hadn't thought about it.

So I head out to the car and get in and start her up, and Matilda purrs and hums, and then I throw her into gear and step on the clutch ... and smell burning rubber. Turns out, spinning your wheels on ice while in first gear is a good way to burn the tires and the clutch. No problem, I saw Aviva rock her car out the other morning I can do this ... first of all, my car is a 7 speed stick shift and much harder to move back and forth into reverse, and second of all, Aviva is good at this. I get nowhere. So I get out, thinking I will just kick the ice off and be on my way.

Bad idea. My toe still hurts. Ice, like steel, is very hard.

I look around in my car and try to come up with something to dig with, now thinking about how nice it would be to have a little shovel. I settle on the ridged metal portion of my club (the thing that goes on the steering wheel to pretend to keep your car secure while you are not in it). This turns out to be a less than inspired choice, as I basically spend the next hour slow sawing and jabbing away small pieces of ice from my wheels. First I do the wheels on the left, get in and the car makes more smell. Realizing I should try to excavate the wheels on the right side, I bruise my palm and cut my fingers up on the solid mass of ice that has moved, as a glacier does, underneath my wheel and bumper. I pick at in, get in and try again. Nothing. I am rocking but not rolling.

I notice the car behind me, full of old chinese ladies, is also stuck. I watch with interest as they rifle through the recycling across the street and come up and old swiffer and use this to try to break up the ice. I giggle a bit as they are unable to use the swiffer to do anything. I notice the only guy stays in the car, behind the wheel, gesticulating. Then I offer to help and push the car over the much smaller patch of ice and they are free. They offer to help me but 3 800 year old chinese women do not seem like they will be able to help, particularly when they are dealing with human sized mound of glacial sediment under my front bumper. This happens several more times as I struggle to free Matilda. Eventually I think I would have liberated every car on the street but my own, as generally all they seem to need is a small push ... but not Matilda. She is wedged in good.

So after an hour of futilely jabbing at the ice with the club and getting other people out of the ice, I go back into my building and knock on the managers door because I know he has a shovel and I hope to borrow it. I knock on the door and the managers on answers and get his mom. "Please to hold on, I am on the long distance." I tell her no problem, that I can wait. "Is urgent?" she asks. I tell her no, that I just want to borrow the shovel if it is alright. She says its fine, that I should just wait a minute.

I wait 45 minutes. I knock again in the middle. I know she is there but no answer is forthcoming. I return to my club and the ice.

After another 20 minutes, a nice guy name Nathaniel offers to help as his wife is bringing groceries into his house. He pushes and I grind the tires, shake the car, ram the curb and get nowhere. Nat gets a shovel, large and plastic but strong enough, and I break up the ice around the front and back. Nothing. More breaking and pushing. Nothing. Digging and swearing to go along with the breaking. A small prayer before the start and hallellujah!!! I am lose. Up on the curb, almost ramming the car in front of me, backing up and nearly killing Nat, back into the curb, slipping and sliding to the left and I am out in the street.
I get out and thank return the shovel and thank Nat profusely. Who says New Yorkers aren't nice?

Just 3 hours later and I am on my way. A novel and fully enjoyable experience, although in the next few hours I will come to truly regret the epic push-up workout from earlier ...

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