Living in the lake country area of Wisconsin has many benefits, most of which, outweigh the difficulties of living in the country. However, every now and again a unique situation occurs that makes you re-think the very basic issues that the regular, ordinary, every day person takes for granted. Wednesday is the day that our trash and recyclables get picked up. This is something that the municipal government does quite efficiently. This Wednesday however we also got a decent amount of snowfall, the bulk of which, occurred during the day. These two events shouldn’t be related at least not insofar as garbage pickup is concerned. On this particular day however, events were conspiring against the good garbage collectors of the lake country area and by virtue of their effect on the local population of said area events also conspired against anyone who had the misfortune of trying to get anything done during the waking hours of this particular day of the week.
Driving in the snow is not a fun task regardless of where you’re from or what you do. I doubt that even snow plow drivers enjoy it. If you live in a state not named California or Florida you’ll probably have to drive in the snow at some point in time and it’s easier to get through if you’ve had more experience with it. When a conflagration of factors comes together to besmitten you with ailments, none of which you can fix, it is far too easy to become unnerved. Choices become a hindrance to your cause and the likelihood that you will succeed at anything begins to dwindle. As anyone who has seen The Shining can tell you, snow travel (Snowcat or not) becomes dangerous only when snow plows are not in use or are otherwise detained. Momentary detention of snow plows is an occurrence that happens more often than we might think, but prolonged detention of snow plows can prove disastrous to even the most hardened driver or experienced snow enthusiast.
I knew that my day was ruined when the Waukesha County municipal transit workers who operate the snow plows decided to clash with the local waste management officials, though even I was surprised by the way in which this fight unraveled. I was headed down Highway C towards Highway 59 (neither of which appeared to have been plowed, which was unusual seeing as how it was 12:30 in the afternoon.) As I made my way towards the intersection of Highway C and Highway 59 I saw a garbage truck parked on one side of the road and a snow plow parked in the adjacent lane side by side. These two trucks were thus blocking both lanes of traffic, which must not have seen that problematic to them because I was the only other person on the road. As I slowly approached the two vehicles I realized that I would need to brake a lot earlier than usual, so I engaged in this process sooner than one might anticipate. It’s a good thing I chose to do so because my brakes immediately locked and I was at the mercy of the snow and slush filled road. My vehicle came to a stop about two feet from the garbage truck. I couldn’t see out of any of the windows in my car except the windshield and I didn’t see the drivers of either vehicle in front of me. I proceeded to roll down my window in an attempt to find the people responsible for my unplanned stop and that’s when I saw them arguing in someone’s driveway a few yards away.
“You’re lucky I didn’t just hit you and knock you out of the way” the snow plow driver shouted at the garbageman. The two individuals were dressed differently, but if it had not been for the fact that I was now parked behind their two vehicles I could have easily mistaken them for hunters as one was dressed entirely in orange and the other entirely in camouflage. The reasons that a snow plow driver would dress in orange seemed to elude me. I don’t know why a man whose job is to drive a huge vehicle down the road would need help getting recognized, but I assume that everyone has their idiots even rich communities. Why a garbageman would would seek to blend into his surroundings is still a matter of great befuddlement to me however even in hindsight, but nonetheless the two gentlemen both seemed highly irritated with one another and thus my questions would have to go unanswered.
“I can’t pull over to the side of the road because I’m already parked on the side of the road,” the garbageman yelled at the snow plow driver. The two men were now engaging in accusatory finger pointing as well as angry words and it seemed a mere matter of minutes before the two would be engaged in a casual escalation of behavior that was sure to include shoving and given conditions at this time, probably a good deal of falling down.
“I need to clear the road!” The snow plow driver shouted. “How am I supposed to do that if I you’re clearly in my way?”
“Not my problem!” Retorted the garbageman as he began to walk away from the snow plow driver. It was this action that caused the matter to become escalated as the last thing you want to do in a fight (verbal, physical or otherwise) is turn your back to your opponent. The next set of actions were fairly predictable. The snow plow driver grabbed at his shoulders, the garbageman pushed back and the two men wrestled to the ground. I thought about intervening in this matter, but managed to talk myself out of it. No blows had been struck and the possibility still existed that there could be a peaceable solution to this issue and sure enough the snow plow driver pushed the garbageman’s face into the snow, got up and walked away. The garbageman shook his head back and forth, removed the snow from his beard and gazed at the snow plow driver as he casually got back in his snow plow and continued on as if nothing had happened. The snow plow driver rolled his window all the way down, spat out the window as the garbageman made his back to his vehicle and shouted at him as he drove away.
“That’s what you get for being a garbageman,” the snow plow driver shouted as he drove away, the presumptive winner of whatever that spat would be known as. The garbageman yelled back at the snow plow driver:
“I’m a waste management official,” he said “and I will be reporting this incident to my superiors.”
I find it doubtful that there has ever been a sadder statement uttered in the English language than the one yelled by the garbageman at the snow plow driver in an event that turned out to be the pinnacle of a day marked by an inability to travel because of the haphazard politics of municipal employees.