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.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

When schools closed early in the spring, the entire country was thrown for a loop. Parents had to figure out what to do with their kids. Teachers had to figure out how to teach students at home. Kids had to figure out how to navigate a totally new routine that was being created and altered in real time.

For many families, it was a big honking mess—one that many really don't want to repeat in the fall.

But at the same time, the U.S. hasn't gotten a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. As states have begun reopening—several of them too early, according to public health officials—COVID-19 cases have risen to the point where we now have more cases per day than we did during the height of the outbreak in the spring. And yet President Trump is making a huge push to get schools to reopen fully in the fall, even threatening to possibly remove funding if they don't.

It's worth pointing out that Denmark and Norway had 10 and 11 new cases yesterday. Sweden and Germany had around 300 each. The U.S. had 55,000. (And no, that's not because we're testing thousands of times more people than those countries are.)

The president of the country's largest teacher's union had something to say about Trump's push to reopen schools. Lily Eskelsen Garcia says that schools do need to reopen, but they need to be able to reopen safely—with measures that will help keep both students and teachers from spreading the virus and making the pandemic worse. (Trump has also criticized the CDCs "very tough & expensive guidelines" for reopening schools.)

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