As I headed out in the wee hours this morning I thought to myself “how many people really know what it is like to be a plow driver.” So, I figured why not write an article on it.
Snow removal is a reactive service. While there are some things you can do to prepare for the storm, they are very limited. Those things can help make getting though the storm easier but they don’t change the urgency once the storm is there. As a plow driver, you are at the mercy of mother nature. Your income may depend on how many hours you work. If it doesn’t snow, then no paycheck. If it does snow, then you may be a slave to the storm. Even when it’s not snowing you are working. You are watching the storm. You may be up for hours during the night waiting for the predicted storm to hit — with no guarantee the storm will produce any snow at all. In the end good preparation for a storm is only has an impact on a small percent of the entire event. You will only truly know how the storm goes once the storm has commenced.
There is a tremendous amount of pressure. There is pressure to stay ahead of the storm. Pressure to keep site conditions optimal. There is pressure from the clients to reduce liability on the site. There is a pressure to do things beyond your physical limits. You just wish you could work a bit faster, be a little stronger or do a little more. While it’s snowing, you are essentially failing at your task as the snow repeatedly buries your work.
Snow removal is more emotional than you might think. There is so many things going on in your mind. You are pushed to the limits of your emotional, mental and physical strengths. You are only getting the bare minimum rest. You don’t have any time to socialize with family or friends. Your sanity will only return when the snow has stopped and things are all cleaned up. You have no life, all you do is plow, plow, plow and then sleep a little, and back to plowing. Even food is secondary. All of this leads to an extreme emotional draw.
It is hard and difficult work. Your body grows stiff as you work in the elements. Sitting in a truck for hours at a time. Muscles are soar from shoveling sidewalks or tossing 50 lbs bags of ice melt. The cold settles deep into your body.
Snow removal is a service. Not only are you providing a service for a client. You are providing service to every person that will be using that lot, road or sidewalk. You are out serving your fellow mankind. Service is something that you can’t always put a financial value on. Drivers or operators certainly may take some pride in the work they perform and the service provided.
It’s a scary environment to be in. There are a lot of dangers. You are working in the cold and dark. You may be all alone which could prove dangerous if there was an accident or injury. You see a lot of things others wouldn’t see. There are dozens of accidents as you commute to and from properties. Conditions are unsafe and icy. Remember, the conditions that you are trying to improve for the safety of others are the conditions you are working in.
You can become close to nature. It’s cold and there is moisture in the air. You get to see how the environment freezes and melts and even sometimes vapor (fog). Snow insulates and prevents freezing beneath. There are some crazy natural phenomenon’s which you get to see firsthand.
It’s a job where you can feel accomplished. You know when you are complete. There is no better feeling than to be able to visually see your accomplishments. With snow, it is very clear when you are complete. You start with a snow-covered canvas and completely change what mother nature has done.
It’s a community. There is certainly a community of fellow plow drivers. As you are out in the early hours of the morning you feel all alone. But as you drive by other properties you see other fellow plow drivers hard at work. These hard-working people seemingly come out of the woodwork during the odd hours and difficult circumstances to do their job.
And lastly, it’s fun! You get to move large amounts of snow. It may not be like when you were a kid and went sledding but it is certainly fun to be out in the white stuff. You can drive big equipment and vehicles. You know what they say. Boys (and girls) never grow up; their toys just get bigger. There is certainly some truth to that.
Be safe out there!