Friday, February 5, 2010

'Snow Use

For those of you reading this in Phoenix, San Luis Obispo, and Key West, today's entry will mean very little to you.

So what's new, you say?

Time to talk about what to do with the car or truck or minivan or SUV - hereinafter referred to as "vehicle" (in Baltimorese, VEE-hickle) - when it snows.

You'll have to turn to other columns for advice on how to drive your vehicle during a snow, as I can't even explain why you should turn your wheel in the direction of the skid when you feel that "whoa there goes the back of the car" feeling in the middle of a major intersection. You're heading for a drugstore, so you're supposed to steer TOWARD the drugstore? In a world where you multiply two negative numbers and get a positive answer, it must be right, I dunno.

No, we're here to talk about what to do with the car instead of driving it. Let's say you're in your neighborhood, first of all, because people who do extensive winter travel tell me that Baltimore is somehow the world's capital for people abandoning their cards during a winter storm. Even though they're 15 miles from home still, if they can't get up that hill, they just park it and start anklin' home. Or maybe they go to a nearby home and ask for help. Or call a cab. But ask any cop, and you'll find it's true - the plows go crazy, because there are cars just sitting all over the place...even the interstates!

Your car doesn't like spending the night out in inclement weather any more than you do, when you think about it. Peggy and I would almost have enough room in the garage for her pre-recall Camry - with non-sticking gas pedal - and my pick-'em up, except for the collection of Elvis memorabilia, recycling boxes and I don't know what-all else filling the garage. So, most nights, the truck sits outside, and on nights when it's going to snow or sleet, I cover its windshield wipers with plastic newspaper bags and its windshield with a tarpaulin (in Baltimore, tar-POLE-eon.) In the morning, peel away that big blue tarp, pull the newspaper bags off the wipers, and away you go, as countless hapless others scrape til they're blue in the knuckle. I see people who stick their wipers straight out, perpendicular to the windshield, but then they still have to scrape ice off the blades. Cover the stick with some latex or something. This is good advice for many other similar applications. If you catch my drift.

It's always amusing to set out for work the next day and see cars parked along major roads, cars that have really gotten the old splasheroo from plows and salt trucks. As the ice formations along their metallic flanks take on that salty, icy hue, these vehicles sort of resemble the inside of a glass that contains a half of an ice-cream soda. Sometimes it's the only place people can park, I understand, but I wonder how long it takes to get all that gunk off.

Then there is always that great big silver duct-tape colored car cover. I see more of them these days, covering entire vehicles, and I'm sure they work well, as long as you don't mind other people thinking that your Sebring is underneath the world's largest shower cap.

But, according to most surveys, the best place to stash your car when it's fixin' to snow in Baltimore is Phoenix, San Luis Obispo, or Key West. With yourself in it!

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