Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snowy Days

We’ve had an abundance of snow in the last couple of weeks. The snow can be enjoyable, but it can also be a nuisance.

A few days ago, I needed to clear the driveway, so I rolled out a machine for the job. I don’t know if it’s a snow blower or snowplow or something else entirely. It’s about the size of a stubby shopping cart (the type that I see men pushing around when they’re grabbing a couple of items at the grocery store, like bacon and Captain Crunch), with a plow in front and a handlebar in back. It has an adjustable shoot that comes up out of the middle, so as it rolls through the snow, it spews it in whichever direction I choose (I could even spray myself if I was so inclined). It’s got some type of engine that sounds like an idling monster truck when it’s running. Unfortunately, the key ignition no longer works, so the only way of starting it is by jerking a cord.

I primed the engine a couple of times and started pulling. Nothing happened. I primed again and pulled some more. Not even a whimper from the engine. Then I read the directions on the machine and realized I didn’t have the choke set. Unfortunately, the choke button is long gone, and all that remains is a metal stem that can be turned to three positions. Above the stem is an icon of a two-dimensional view of Saturn (which I later found out is an icon for full choke). I tried turning to different settings, kept priming, kept pulling. Finally, I called my father-in-law to see if he had any ideas since he’s very mechanically inclined. I soon realized that I didn’t have the engine on the running state, and it needed to be set to Fast. Still, nothing worked, likely because I’d flooded the engine with all of my manic priming. Weary from pulling the cord over and over, I realized that the only remaining solution is to shovel the drive. By the end, I was more exhausted than usual, and I’m not sure which was more tiring: trying to start the engine or shoveling.

There is a happy ending to the tale, though. Last night, after another snowfall, I thought I’d give the machine one more try. I set everything the way my father-in-law had advised, primed three times and pulled. Suddenly, the beast roared to life. Fifteen minutes later, I’m putting it away with a clear driveway, hardly breaking a sweat. Hopefully I’ll remember how to start it up again next time.

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