Hot Air: Winter Wonderland

Friday’s Heroes

City employee Levi Combs read me the riot act Saturday morning on social media, as well he should have.

Combs was pressed into service driving a plow during Friday’s snow and ice storm. He and his colleagues worked extra long shifts, he says, trying to keep Bloomington’s streets clear. “There were over 30 drivers out over our 22 hour shift covering everything that they could with plows and salt,” he wrote.

The truth is, I know precisely how he feels. I’ve worked in vehicles for 12- and 16-hour shifts during massive snowstorms accompanied by plummeting temps and howling winds. No matter how high you’ve got the heater set, your feet become damp and numb, your ass goes to sleep from sitting on a cold hard vinyl seat, your stomach feels as though it’s filled with wet sand after you’ve scarfed down a quick Big Mac, fries and a Coke just to get some kind of nourishment into you, you stink, your socks and underwear feel as though they’re glued to your skin, your bladder’s full because you can’t find a spare moment to jump out and pee in some filthy gas station bathroom, your nostrils dry up from the constant blowing of the heater fan, and…, and…, and….

I drove a trolley for 15 hours during the 21-inch, January, 1999 Chicago blizzard.

Driving a plow or an ambulance or a bus or a trolley during a snowstorm is hell. And I imagine Combs finally getting home, showering, eating warm food, maybe having a beer, and feeling he has earned every goddamned penny he gets.

Then, the next morning he reads the screeching of some jerk who’s crying like a kindergartner about the messy streets. Sheesh, I’m lucky I wasn’t anywhere near him yesterday AM, otherwise I might have a fat lip big enough to hang my hat on as a result.

So, yeah, I know how Levi felt and I have no quibble with him or the other 29 drivers who did heroic work Friday.

My quibble is with a city that was absolutely not prepared for a snowfall of 1-3 inches. In January. That was predicted days in advance.

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