We spoke to a snowplow driver who works during blizzards. He wants you to know 9 things.

With a massive blizzard bearing down on the East Coast this weekend, America's snowplow drivers will likely once again be the unsung heroes of the whole shebang.

While the rest of us are holed up in our apartments enjoying the 17-23 frozen pizzas we stocked up on during the week, brave men and women across the region will somehow, some way, clear our roads and driveways.

How do they do what they do?


I spoke to Jason Kaye of K&S Property Management in Westchester County, N.Y. He's a snowplow driver and manages a team of all-around winter-weather removal ninjas.

Jason Kaye with his rig. Photo by Jason Kaye, used with permission.

Here are seven things he and his crew wish you knew about how the true snow heroes roll.

1. They've been preparing for this moment for months.

Photo by Jason Kaye, used with permission.

Contrary to popular belief, snowplow crews don't just work when the flakes start coming down.

"Our season starts in August," Kaye said. "That's when we start with all of our maintenance, upkeep on snowplows, salt spreaders, loaders, backhoes, anything like that that would come in handy once November or December hits."

Without that maintenance, the crews wouldn't be adequately prepped and there wouldn't be plows to plow with.

"We're actually pretty much working all year round just to make sure everybody's safe for the four to five months that we actually see snow fall," Kaye said.

2. They often work inhuman hours.

A button the average snowplow driver is professionally obligated not to hit. Photo by Sean McGrath/Flickr.

Your snowplow driver doesn't get up early. Matt Lauer gets up early. Your snowplow driver gets up biblically early.

"Sometimes we start at 4 a.m. Sometimes we start at midnight. Sometimes we start at 8 in the morning, and we finish 36 hours later," Kaye said.

3. Their jobs are a lot harder when you're out on the road.


Don't be this guy. Photo by Alex Proimos/Flickr.

While you might be tempted to trail your neighborhood plow driver in your Acura shouting motivational poems out the window, basically the best thing you can do to actually help out is stay home, enjoy a nice, warm cup of cocoa, and watch "SVU" reruns until your eyelids freeze in place.

"We're out here trying to do a job, and the more space we have to do it safely and not have to worry about other people, the quicker it can start and the better it gets done," Kaye said.

4. If your job is saving people's lives, then OK. Feel free to drive.

Photo by Brian Robert Marshall/Geograph.uk.

"Some people are doctors, nurses — they need to get to the hospital on time," Kaye said. He and his crew work especially hard during major snow events to make sure emergency professionals — medical workers and first responders — have a clear shot to their place of business.

If you're not an emergency professional, however, crank up the heat, fire up Call of Duty, and stay home.

Seriously.

5. If you lost something really important in the snow on your way to work, chances are they're going to be the ones to find it.

Photo by Jason Kaye, used with permission.

Every year, thousands of wallets and keys fall out of America's pockets into the snowy abyss, never to be seen again. But if you're not a jerk to your snowplow driver, they just might help you dig out your lost item.

Kaye recalled finding a client's credit card buried under a pile of snow.

"I waited around for him and gave him his card," Kaye said. "It's just little things like that that make a difference in people's lives."

6. They actually care about when your driveway gets plowed and making sure their routes are fair...

Photo by Jason Kaye, used with permission.

"Someone's gonna be first, and someone's always gonna be last," Kaye said. "Any snowplow crew will give you the same speech on that one."

It's probably not random, however. Chances are if you were first last time, you'll be last next time — and vice versa. According to Kaye, most responsible snowplow crews mix it up to make sure that, within a given season, all of their clients get roughly equal treatment.

7. ...unless you're dating the driver, in which case, you're probably out of luck.

I'll make it up to you, baby, I swear. I'll make spaghetti tomorrow. Photo by Alex Proimos/Flickr.

"[My] girlfriend ... is always wanting me to make sure I get her driveway done, but she unfortunately finds herself being last on the list, and that's the one I hear about most," Kaye admitted.

8. Don't punch your snowplow driver.

It's a dangerous job. Photo by Delmas alain/Wikimedia Commons.

It happened last month to a snowplow driver in Canada. In Canada, of all places. By a rival snow-shoveler.

It can get real serious real fast out there.

9. They have people at home who are really, really hoping they get home safely.

Not only that, some of them probably have tragically old phones. Photo by Alton/Wikimedia Commons.

"I have a mother who worries about me being out there," Kaye said.

When he's out on the road, Kaye said he hears from his mom and girlfriend roughly as much as he hears from clients. Conditions get slippery, black ice is a menace, and inexperienced drivers on the road can cause trouble, even for snow-removal professionals.

While the job can be treacherous, however, those closest to the people on his crew learn to take it in stride, even as they worry.

"At this point, they're used to the job we do."

Bottom line: When you see a snowplow driver — and this weekend, many of us probably will — thank them from the bottom of your heart.

Photo by BenFranske/Wikimedia Commons.

Then get the heck out of their way.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.