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Doug Wrenn

Survivalist Tip # 1: The Trusty Ice Scraper!
By Doug Wrenn
Jan 19, 2011 - 12:15:18 AM

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An Army Airborne Ranger once told me that part of his training involved him getting airdropped into a swamp and made to survive for two weeks with only a compass, a knife and a length of fishing line. Ha! Child's play! Just give me an ice scraper and I'll do just fine!

As I now reside in a place in which snow removal is taken care of for me and living space is not quite as ample as it used to be, I've scaled down from a snow shovel to an ice scraper. On the few occasions that a limited amount of shoveling with the ice scraper doesn't rescue me, dropping the car into first gear and revving her up usually does. I hate shoveling. But I love front wheel drive.

My master plan has worked well so far until Mother Nature broke many records and dumped two feet of snow on me recently. Digging out with an ice scraper seemed eerily much too much like digging my own grave (and with a teaspoon), so after about a half hour of this fruitless and unwanted labor, I took a break from the elements, retreating to the welcoming warmth of my abode, where I summoned the local motor club, which I was convinced would tow me out of my predicament. Silly me.

The not so nice lady on the other end of the phone, who mistakenly seemed to think my name was "Well" pummeled me with what seemed like endless and inane questions:

"Well, how can we get to your car if it's buried in the snow?"
"I've cleared the front wheels for you."

"Well, we're not going to shovel you out."
"I know. I don't want you to shovel me out. I want you to tow me out."

"Well, how are we going to do that?"
"Um, I guessing with a truck, a hook, and a wench."

"Well, how can we do that?"
"I don't know exactly. I don't tow cars. Isn't that what you folks do? So why don't you tell me!"

"I just answer the phones, Sir." ("Sir" now? She must have suddenly forgotten that my assigned name is "Well.")

"OK, then here's a thought, dispatch a wrecker here, and let the driver figure it out! He tows cars, right?"

After putting me on hold to allegedly seek guidance from her supervisor (or more likely, to refill her coffee cup), "Buttercup" (my pet name for her) advised me that they cannot and will not tow me out because they could potentially do damage to my car. (Does that mean that the rest of the time they tow cars there never is any such risk?)

Having lost the Battle of the Buttercup, I then returned to the war front to re-engage the recent artillery barrage of my new found cold, high, and deep white enemy. Upon my arrival to the front, I found, much to my nauseating chagrin, that the enemy had just received reinforcements. No, not more snow, but apparently, the snow plow driver, who apparently made another pass as I was wasting my precious time inside, whispering sweet nothings into Buttercup's delicate ear. And now my car was completely reburied. Snow plow operators seem to be like cops. There is never one around when you need one, but when you least want to find one, they'll somehow find you.

After another half hour or so of fruitless labor I had enough. Desperate times call for desperate measures. The ice scraper got temporarily abandoned and my car, now in first gear got revved up. Now I was the snow plow operator (albeit without a plow). Ford is right. They do have a better idea. Not only was I soon out of the snow bank, but I even stopped before crashing into the building. Like I said, you gotta love that front wheel drive! As for my motor club, suffice to say that I now rate it a "triple F"!

Shortly after gloating over my victory, I realized my plight was far from over, and I still had to get into work. Grabbing my trusty ice scraper, I jumped into my now very cherished Ford and was soon off to my favorite local coffee shop. I was on a double mission: 1.) Mail some mail in the ever present and usually accessible mail box in their parking lot, and 2.) Grab my usual daily java to go, the first of many more to follow before the sun set on this already obnoxious day.

Upon my arrival, my first impression is that my favorite coffee shop obviously hires a snow plow operator who is far less zealous than mine as the entire lot was just a sheet of ice. Then I realized I lost sight of the mailbox, but then noted a small, blue metallic thing protruding from a low point in the snow bank that was between four to five feet high. As I skated across the parking lot (on the soles of my shoes), like King of the Hill, I mounted the snow bank and began furiously digging away with my trusty ice scraper at the receptacle that our postal officials had either forgotten or not yet gotten to. Having freed the box's door from its frigid entombment, I dropped my mail inside. I figured it would arrive at its destination by spring thaw, which is probably still faster than First Class Mail anyway. Having now saved the planet from postal impediment (or at least some of it), I proudly sauntered into the coffee shop for a well earned coffee.

After paying for my coffee at the front counter, my hands were full between my coffee, change, discount coffee club card and of course, my now survivalist style, trusty ice scraper. I put my coffee down on a ledge atop a booth when in the midst of reorganizing myself, a thought suddenly landed in my head that perhaps this wasn't a good idea. That notion came to fruition as I went to grab the cup, and instead, knocked it over, spilling half of the hot contents all over the place!

After profusely and repeatedly apologizing for my stupidity and clumsiness, the three elderly diners in the booth assured me that the hot coffee had miraculously missed all of them, but the mess remained. Procuring a ream of napkins from a waitress, I cleaned up the mess I made and the three old folks in the booth were still chuckling as I exited the establishment with my ice scraper in one hand, now a only a half cup of coffee in the other, and my cheeks now fully transformed in color from blue to rosy red from embarrassment, despite the frigid temperature of that day. As a regular there, I am sure I could have gotten a complimentary refill, but a speedy exodus from that whole scenario was far more prevalent on my mind at the time.

As I re-skated back into my car and was preparing to leave, I looked a few spaces over and saw an elderly man attempting to assist his much larger elderly wife from their car into her adjacent wheel chair. The poor old fellow was literally shaking under his wife's weight, and given the ice that surrounded them, I saw potential for a far more significant catastrophe to take place before my very eyes than the one I just caused inside the coffee shop.

Bolting from my car, I half slid/half ran to their car, yelling out an offer of help while trying to close the distance as quickly as I could, just as the old man landed his "Buttercup" into place with a thunderous thud from the chair, a painful groan from her, and what I am sure must have been a deep sigh of relief for him.

The old timer thanked me profusely, formally and politely calling me "Sir." (I didn't bother telling him he could just call me "Well.") They still yet had the entire icy parking lot to transverse as they had parked in the back. (After all, as everyone knows, handicap spaces are specifically reserved for all you lazy, apathetic, self-centered prima donna bastards who are neither impaired by disability or conscience and have more excuses than scruples!) I repeatedly asked the old gentleman if he wanted me to push his wife's chair into the coffee shop for him, but both he and Mrs. Buttercup declined any further assistance. As I now half walked/half slid back toward my car, the ice got the better of me, and down I went with a thunderous thud of my own. "Sir, are you OK?", I heard as I looked behind me and saw the old gent now quickly approaching me. In the background I heard a hideous scream. Yup. You guessed it. Buttercup, now sliding helplessly away in her wheel chair as her elderly Sir Galahad was now at my side and offering to help me up! (To paraphrase Michael Keaton in the movie, "The Paper," 'Have you ever awakened one morning and just sensed a really crappy day coming on?'")

Now back in my car, still covered in snow, and aching from my fall (The worst bruise was to my ego!), I headed into work, also still aggravated because amidst all these happenings, I was still attempting to call my first scheduled client of the day, but her line was busy all morning. When I arrived at work, I found my assigned work vehicle, yup, you guessed it again, also buried in two feet of snow. And after toiling fruitlessly for another half hour with my trusty ice scraper, I soon learned from yet more exasperation that a Chevy can be just as tenacious as a Ford when similarly so abused at a higher than recommended speed in first gear. (Kids, don't try this at home!) Once again victoriously gloating, I then scored a "two-for," as I also finally made contact with my client on the phone. As you could well imagine, by this time, she wasn't happy. Then the fleeting euphoria of the moment was quickly sapped from my very being and reality sank in with a more thunderous thud than the two I previously heard (and felt) on the icy pavement of the coffee shop. And now I wasn't happy either. I guess it's true; misery does love company!

As kind of a half razz and half kind gesture, my significant other, after learning of this atrocious day's escapades, bought me a real snow shovel, for those rare days of historically astronomical snowfall amounts, and when both the snow plow and the ice scraper fail me. She then teased me not to break it too soon, as it's made of a lighter weight plastic than my trusty ice scraper. (And you all now know, as she already does, just how graceful I am!) But it's a small snow shovel, so it will neatly fit into a smaller living space. I question how ridiculous I might look, however, a big oaf like me digging out with what looks like a child's snow shovel, but I suppose it can't look any worse than me trying to dig out with an ice scraper, so I'll use the shovel.

And if anyone laughs at me, or gives me any crap at all (and if the shovel breaks), I'll just smack them with my trusty ice scraper.

No, this still-cherished, multi-functional tool isn't getting retired just yet. After all, I'm a survivor!

Doug Wrenn


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