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Snowplow Drivers of the Northeastern United States: Greetings & Salutations!
Snowplow Drivers of the Northeastern United States Greetings & Salutations!
Hello my fellow union brothers of the massive steel snowplow, greetings and salutations on this balmy 28° snowless day in northeastern Ohio. It’s Sunday and I’m not working! Thank you God! My paranoia continues to haunt me due to the fact that at any minute a massive nor’easter could come barreling down upon us like a ravenous Mongol horde. Do you find yourself flinching when the phone rings anticipating the dreaded, “Fireman’s Call”? Do you forget what day of the week it is because the days and nights seem to have merged into a gray goop of uncertainty and lost time? The alien abductees think they have it bad. Have you seen cars and trucks flying through the air crashing down around you causing destruction, devastating injuries and death? Do you sometimes think at the end of the work day/night that Hollywood stunt men are actually a bunch of pussies? Well, I feel your pain my friends and my own. I’ve worked more overtime this winter than at any time in my life. I have spent more time with my comrades than I have with my family and become intimately familiar with the eccentricities of their lives way more than I ever wanted to. First of all let me say, WTF was that? Without trying to create an oxymoron, was that global warming? Was last winter what we are looking forward to in the future? Man I hope not, for your sake that is. As fate and OPERS(Ohio Public Employees Retirement System) constraints dictate, after November 8, 2014, I am eligible for retirement and will bid you, my union brothers, a fond adieu.
During my tenure at the Ohio Department of Transportation it has been my pleasure and privilege to work with some of the toughest and most dedicated men and women in the country. The resolve and sense of purpose necessary to work twelve to sixteen hour shifts day after day during the kind of winter we have just experienced is nothing less than awe-inspiring. I often think of our union brothers in other states traversing I-95, I-80 or I-90, wherever. There but for the grace of our perseverance and determination does the motoring public travel, anywhere. I’m sure most are grateful but we rarely see it. Most of the time people speed around us incorporating the sight of our slow moving plow trucks with the inconvenience of the inclement weather. Sometimes we see them again, only this time they are in the median shaking a fist or worse, upside down and injured. How many times have you been flipped off this winter union brothers? I’m guessing plenty. They’re not bad people though, after all they’re us. They’re overworked and stressed out, going to the store or coming home from work. They are in a hurry because sadly, in this day and age, speed is of the essence. My favorite saying is, “Hurry up and live, there are babies waiting to be born!”. A woman passed me a couple of weeks ago barely missing my plow blade then lost control and did a couple of 360’s right in front of my still moving truck before slamming her new Beemer into a Jersey wall. I hate when that happens! I couldn’t stop so I called it in. Another thing people don’t realize is that we can’t stop for every accident we encounter. They don’t realize we can’t pull over on a busy road or freeway during a snowstorm. We don’t want to become part of the problem with untreated roads ahead and traffic bearing down on us from behind. ♫ Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen… ♫ Well, at least you know.
I would like to take this opportunity to salute my coworkers at the historic North Lima outpost, especially those who endured there in the aftermath of the fire. It was here that I learned the true meaning of team work, responsibility, camaraderie and self sacrifice. The old building is gone now and a new state of the art facility stands in it’s place. If walls could talk the old building would have spawned a series of epic movies the likes of which Hollywood has never dreamt of. North Lima is sometimes referred to as the Italian outpost or the gourmet outpost due to the exceptional culinary skills of Joe Tisone and Marc Centofanti, both of whom are experts in Italian cuisine. Three cheese stuffed shells with Joe’s signature sauce, baccalà salad at Christmas time, homemade sausage with peppers and onions from Marc’s kitchen are only a few of the Italian specialty dishes we have come to enjoy within our coveted enclave on the afternoon shift. The official dish of the North Lima outpost is without a doubt; Italian pierogies, the brainchild of Tisone that combines the Polish pierogi with the Italian stuffed shell. The list of official foods include Rich Filicky’s smoked habanero cheese and goose jerky, Dots the official candy of the Dream Team, Dairy Queen Dilly Bars and Mike Johnson’s apple & cherry crisps the designated official deserts. Dieting is impossible during the winter months at North Lima along with any aspirations of a cover spot on Men’s Health magazine. I would be remiss in my duty if I didn’t mention the Dream Team. Now only a legend, the Dream Team was an eclectic group of North Lima plow drivers that epitomized the selfless sacrifice and determined work ethic that have become benchmarks to which all others set their standards. These brave men, during their tenure, fought a never ending battle for truth, justice, Shadone pie and the American way. I salute them with the official North Lima gang sign, the reverse shocker with the animated scoop.
Some people have asked me why I haven’t been posting on my blog lately. I usually scream obscenities at them telling them I’ve been working a lot of overtime before storming off with my arms flailing wildly. They probably think I’m crazy, which in fact I may be, but don’t worry my friends, I’m coming back. Slowly, as the veil of the gray winter day and the paranoia of another snow storm lifts, I feel myself returning to some sense of normality. During my hiatus into the twilight zone of this winter’s debacle I have been privileged to enjoy a warm and comforting respite in the joy of playing my guitar. What a savior! During the installation of the last of four sets of plow blades the awesome mechanic Derek Taylor and I put on my truck(There were an additional 3-sets installed without me), I pinched my left index finger. I didn’t think anything about it at the time but when I got home and started to play I realized it wouldn’t work. I was right in the middle of learning “Baby’s Coming Home”, a song written by Jerry Reed and made famous by the late great Chet Atkins. Bummer! Well, after a few days the finger came back and I ended up learning the piece. You’ll notice my black fingernail in the in the ensuing video. This song I dedicate to you my union brothers, for all the times last winter when you weren’t really sure if baby was coming home. I am going to include another piece in the video that I think is apropos with the final return of a long awaited spring. I played it as a recessional at my friend Tina’s wedding last November. She is a trusted colleague, skilled plow driver and good friend. In conclusion I will leave you with these songs, my love and admiration and the responsibility for ensuring the future of western civilization. May all your roads be running water.~