An Earlier Life

I love sitting at the counter of the Belmont Diner.  I get to joke with the regulars and meet some new folks too.  Separate tables are a part of life but you don’t get to know people that way.

The topics of conversation are all over the map: politics, sports, occupations, local gossip, philosophy, religion, travel … they all make an appearance.  The farmers have their own lingo, which I understand, sort of.  “Too wet to get into the field … Guess what I saw at the equipment show?”  And the hours needed to take care of all those cows.

This morning at breakfast, “Steve” ventured into the past.  He was a snowplow operator for decades.  Sometimes it was school parking lots and sometimes the open highway.  If there’d been a storm, Steve hopped on at 7:00 pm and hopped off at 8:00 am.  Just the concept of working all night boggles me.  I know what it’s like to be on the road when the snow blows the visibility away but having to concentrate like anything for 13 hours?  Whoa.  And maybe there wasn’t any chance to sleep during the daytime before.  Exhaustion and a whiteout.  “You just got used to it.”

I’m looking across the counter at a hero who doesn’t often talk about his escapades.  But once Steve gets going on the topic …

One night he was in the cab of the plow, coaching a new driver.  They could vaguely make out a car parked on the shoulder, and Steve thought he could see inside too easily.  The driver’s window was down!  “Get the blade up!”  Too late.  The snow piled in, filling the compartment nicely.  Later they found out that the driver was furious.  Somehow Steve omitted the part about what happened next.

Another time, a very small car (maybe a Volkswagen beetle) got caught up in the blade and was carted along for miles.  The visibility was so bad that Steve had no clue about his passenger until he slowed for an intersection.

Oh, I love these stories.  Now I have to figure out how to keep drawing out such tales from my counter companions.  I can do it.  I want to do it.  There are glowing moments hidden just under the surface of the bodies drinking coffee beside me.

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