This winter didn’t really feel like winter until about a week and a half ago, and then it started to feel like winter in a hurry.
Until “Snowmageddon” struck Sunday night, I was out and about in the snow every day.
Almost everywhere I went, I was impressed by the condition of the roads and the frequency with which I saw plow trucks at work.
The one time things got a little dicey, I was driving on Upper Round Pond Road in Bristol, beginning to wonder if I would be able to make it back out from my destination, when around the corner from Rock Schoolhouse Road came one of the O.W. Holmes Inc. trucks to clear the way for my return trip.
We hear a lot of complaints about plowing this time of year – at the office, on the street, at the many selectmen’s meetings we cover.
The trucks drive too fast. They knocked over my mailbox. They didn’t plow my back road at the precise moment that I wanted to go buy ice cream! And, of course, the plowing contracts are too expensive!
To the last point we would say, if you think it’s too expensive to hire a private contractor, start a public works department and see how much money you save. Spoiler alert: none.
A public works department has its benefits, but the price of those contracts is literally competitive, as each town we cover (besides those with their own public works departments) sends the job out to bid every few years.
I think part of the reason we hear these complaints is because we have become spoiled.
We live in Maine, yet we expect the roads to be spotless at every moment.
When the roads are “bad,” we look for someone to blame rather than accepting this as the occasional natural state of our roads in winter.
We all know at least one plow guy, whether a contractor, a driver for a contractor or public-works department, or one of the dozens of drivers with one-truck operations that plow driveways and parking lots and private roads.
I don’t think you will find a full-time plow-truck driver in the county. Plow guys work the rest of the year as construction workers, landscapers, carpenters, arborists – the list could go on – and turn to plowing to help pay the bills in the offseason.
I don’t envy these guys one bit. Many work another full-time job even during the winter, then have to rise at all hours of the night to clear the roads – sometimes for around-the-clock shifts!
Since we moved to Bristol last year, our plow guy has been Robin Mahan. Robin always seems to show up exactly when we need him. Sometime after 8 p.m. Monday, as he was clearing our driveway for the third time that day, he said he had been up since 2 a.m.!
We express gratitude for our firefighters and police and teachers and others who work in public service, yet we mostly seem to gripe about our plow-truck drivers.
Well, plow guys, we appreciate what you do. Thank you for allowing us to go places, even when we should probably stay home.
Thanks for clearing the roads at all hours of the day and night so our ambulances and doctors and nurses and firefighters and police officers can do what they need to do.
Next time we’re a little annoyed because you didn’t clear every snowflake on the way to Mom’s house within 15 minutes of the blizzard’s end, we are just going to bite our tongue and remember we live in Maine.