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.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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