Lisa and I worked both days this blizzarific weekend at The Hotel in Downtown Minneapolis. Saturday morning we got up and I had to give myself a little extra time to clear off the car before we left. We decided to park in the heated garage under The Hotel to avoid what we’d already heard would be a snowstorm of biblical proportions. It was crazy downtown. Everything was closed. The people in The Hotel had nowhere else to eat. We were busier than we’ve been on a weekend in months. By 2:00 P.M. when we were done with work, the airport had closed. The people who were supposed to check out ended up having to stay another night before flying home, so there were no extra rooms for employees. We thought about leaving the car in the garage (since we don’t have one at the house) and busing home and back downtown the next morning, but by that point the buses had stopped running. We didn’t have a choice. We had to drive home.
Everything went well at first. The thoroughfares were passable. Not clear, but flat-ish, and about ten feet wide between canyon walls of plow deposits. The problem came when we turned off of Penn Avenue to travel the one block to our house. The snow was just a bit higher than the undercarriage of my Geo Prism, and we couldn’t go. A car was trying to pass around the protruding rear end of the Geo, so I had to run a half-block to the house and grab two shovels. When I returned they tried to help me dig out of the bank, but the car wasn’t going anywhere. Out of sheer luck a guy drove up with a plow on his pickup truck. He opened his window and hung his stubbled face out, cigarette hanging unattended from his mouth, and asked if we could roll back far enough for him to clear us a parking space on the curb of 34th. Seriously, if he hadn’t come along at that moment we would likely have been digging out for hours into the night. He looked a little like a young Billy Joel, if Billy Joel drove a plow for a living. That was the first Christmas miracle.
The next morning we came out to the car to drive back to the hotel for day two of Blizzaricious. We turned around without incident (since Billy had cleared the whole intersection the day before), and got up to the light to turn back onto Penn. The problem was this: Penn Ave is a snow emergency route – it’s the first to be plowed. 34th is not – it’s low priority. So turning from 34th to Penn involves barreling through the plow contrail left the night before and ice-hardened into a car stopping rampart. We hadn’t had the foresight to stow shovels in the car before we left, so we sat, hung halfway between the street we lived on and the street that would take us to work, while I poked at the snowpack under the car with my windshield scraper and cursed. Our neighbor, a man we had met on the street but not really exchanged more than a moment’s pleasantries with, happened to be waiting at the corner for a bus that I assume was never coming. He came over and helped us push off of the plowridge, to universal delight. We weren’t sure if buses had been reinstated at that point, but offered him a ride downtown anyway. He doesn’t speak English super fluently, but we shared some laughs on the drive nonetheless. That was the second Christmas miracle.
By the time we were done with work at 1:00 on Sunday life was almost back to normal. The snow was manageable, the streets were clear, and the populace was self-absorbed again. People had dealt with the adversity and moved on and were either gearing up for the workweek or heading home to finally relax, but I won't forget that twice over the stormy days we were rescued by an unlikely Samaritan. To mystery plow man, thank you, and you may in fact be right – I may be crazy. To our neighbor, come up the block, friend, and we shall feed you. I’d love to hear more about where you have come from, and how much we have in common, while we share some dinner together. Skol.