this blows

We bought a snowblower on Saturday. This is the first time ever that we’ve owned a snowblower, which is odd because if ever there was a time we should’ve bought our first snowblower, it would’ve been the second winter in Misawa when it just wouldn’t stop snowing. That would have been 2002 or 2003, I’m not sure which. The snow was waist-deep at times, so digging out the car meant throwing snow into piles that topped out over my head sometimes. My whole body would ache after a couple hours of that. A snowblower would have been pretty handy then.

But noooo. I had to do it with shovels, because a shovel costs, what? Ten bucks? Twenty? And a snowblower is, yeah, a lot more than that. And! A shovel is better for the environment than a gas-powered snowblower. And there’s probably some shit in there about how hard work equals being a man, too.

Well, guess what? My lower back has become stiff as pre-stressed concrete. Not from an injury; it’s just that I’ve racked up a few miles at this point. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it turned out that shoveling snow had something to do with that. For the past couple of years, every time I bent over a shovel to clear snow off the driveway, I promised myself that, as soon as I was done, I would get in the car, drive to the nearest hardware store and come back with a snow blower. Once or twice, I even went so far as to take the first two steps, but each time I got there, the price tags on new snowblowers made me cringe, and I left the store empty-handed. Or with a shovel.

And I could never bring myself to buy a used snowblower, because used power tools always have something wrong with them that has to be fixed, and I’ve always told myself that after paying for repairs to a used snowblower it would probably cost as much as a new one, so why would I do that instead of buying a new one? (The other half of me that isn’t quite so skinflinted, if in fact that half of me exists, probably would’ve said: “Then buy a new one, god dammit!”)

But this last Friday the weather forecast was calling for six to ten inches of snow by Monday, and just thinking about it made my back hurt. No, it really did. I can make my back hurt just by thinking. Funny I don’t try it the other way around, making my back stop hurting by thinking about, I don’t know, lounging on the beach with a fruity drink. Need to work on that.

Anyway, I finally put a crowbar in my wallet and bought a snowblower. A new one. Not one of those honking big snowblowers, because all we’ve got to clear is a driveway that’s maybe twenty feet long. This is one of the smaller ones that seem to be pretty common in the neighborhood: about two feet wide, about the same height, gas-powered, covered in a black plastic shell with a wiry-looking loop handle. Best feature: it’s got an electric starter. That right there makes it worth every penny we spent on it. I don’t have to yank on a damned starter cord. Instead, I plug it into an extension cord, press a button, and it chugs to life. If it doesn’t, I just press the button again until it does. I can clean off the whole driveway in about five minutes without ever breaking a sweat. I should’ve gotten one of these ten years ago.

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