Tomorrow’s Another Day

By Art Gallagher


This storm and the accompanying road conditions are by far the worst I’ve ever witnessed.  Roads throughout the bayshore, even the State Highways that have been plowed repeatedly are barely passable, if passable at all.

Today was one of those days not to take your plans too seriously, even if you thought you were prepared.

I was prepared, so I thought. 


Yesterday morning I went to my office to get my little pickup truck, hook up the plow and headed home to watch the Jets lose and the Giants get embarrassed. 


Once it was clear there was no coming back for the Giants I went out and plowed the driveway and drove back to the office to clear the lot.  My truck and plow are small and this was going to be a big storm. Best to get ahead of it.  In the hour it took to get home from the office, crawling behind the DOT contractors clearing Route 36, the driveway was covered again.  I plowed it again and called it a night.


This morning started out as expected.  Looking out the window I could see the winds were still very strong.  The white caps on the bay were more ferocious than I’d ever seen before. None of the streets in downtown Highlands appeared to be cleared.  A few brave souls were trying to dig out their cars to get to work.  Today was going to be a long day, but there was no rush at 6:30am.  Today was going to be a clean up day, not a business day.  There was time to tweak Paul Mulshine and the ideologues.


It was about time to clean off the truck and clear the driveway.


I live atop the bluff in Highlands and share the driveway with my neighbor.  As is usually the case after a snow storm, Mrs. Neighbor is the first out and shoveling.  She shovels where she knows I am going to plow in a half hour or so.  I stopped questioning why last winter; it is just what she does.  Her teenage boys join her after a little while.  Then I come out, warm and clean up my truck and plow.  When I’m about done plowing Mr. Neighbor comes out, takes a survey and if need be cleans up what is left with his 30 year old 14 horsepower rear wheel drive Toro tractor and plow.  That’s the routine.


So far so good.  I leave the house and greet the boys.  I shout down the driveway to Mrs. Neighbor to take it easy as I’ll be down the hill with the plow momentarily.  The truck is warming up, I’m scraping the ice and snow off the windows when the unexpected happens

Mr. Neighbor, like a gladiator entering the arena, exists his garage straddling his 14 horses and heads down the path his wife and boys had cleared.  He rides the tractor right past me without so much as a glance, as his intense glare was on the task ahead.   He gets to the end of the clear path, enters the snow and promptly stops.  He is stuck.  It would have been funny, if I was not on the wrong side of the tractor with a plow that would have easily cleared the driveway had he waited five minutes.


There was no moving the 14 horses. The tractor would not go back up the hill.  While trying to push the tractor up the hill, the chains on the tires were ripping into the driveway we got repaved a year or so ago.  The best bet was to dig a clearing for the tractor off to the right so that I could get by with the plow and clear the driveway for everyone, just as I would have done already had Mr. Neighbor only waited five minutes.


My little truck with plow, left.  Mr. Neighbor's stuck tiny tractor, center. The Neighbor family clearing a spot for the stuck tractor, background.

My little truck with plow, left. Mr. Neighbor's stuck tiny tractor, center. The Neighbor family clearing a spot for the stuck tractor, background.


Finally we get the tractor out of the way and I cleared the lower driveway.  Now the tricky part.  I always go back up the driveway in reverse with the plow.  Otherwise I would be plowing snow uphill into my house and into Mr. and Mrs. Neighbor’s house.  Its tricky because I need to get some speed going to get up the hill without getting stuck in ice and without damaging any of the cars parked in the snow or either house.  Today it was trickier because I had to navigate around the tractor, which Mr. Neighbor was still sitting on for some reason.   I over compensated for Mr. Neighbor and slid off the driveway.  My truck was half on the driveway and half on a drop off to my front lawn.   Mr. Neighbor smiled for the first time this morning.




My little stuck truck, left.  Mr. Neighbor's tiny stuck tractor, right. Plowed lower driveway, background.

My little stuck truck, left. Mr. Neighbor's tiny stuck tractor, right. Plowed lower driveway, background.

I called a tow truck operator who I had run against for borough council twice (note to Gene and Ed if you’re reading, it often works to be civil with people who you disagree with) who showed up with in an hour and had me back on four wheels within 10 minutes of arriving.  I looked up the driveway.  The Neighbors had managed to move one of their vehicles caddy corner into the place where I had hoped to get to so that I could clear the upper driveway.  Over two hours had already passed and I’d only done half of what I’d planned.  If only Mr. Neighbor had waited five minutes. Time for me to take care of my office lot and the friends who I promised I would help out.

The roads were horrible. I was able to clear, partly, one friends lot.  None of the roads to Sea Scape Manor were passable.  Even if they were, I might be able to get down their driveway and not get out.  I had to cross the Azzolina Bridge before I could turn around to get back into Highlands.  Sea Bright looked like a ghost town, except for the abandoned vehicles at the base of the bridge.  A Volvo with its lights on and a National Park Service truck, complete with plow, both of which appeared to be parked.




Abandoned vehicles at the base of the Azzolina Bridge

Abandoned vehicles at the base of the Azzolina Bridge

I finally made it to my office in Belford around 2PM.  Route 36 had been plowed repeatedly all night and was not clear.
Route 36, Leonardo section of Middletown around 2PM

Route 36, Leonardo section of Middletown around 2PM

I couldn’t access my lot in Belford.  The snow that the DOT contractors had plowed was taller than I am. Maybe we’ll be closed tomorrow too. 
None of the side streets off of Route 36 appeared to be plowed.   While navigating one of those streets trying to get to a friend’s business to see if he was still using his front loader a teenage boy about 15 or 16 jumped into the middle of the street to flag me down and beg that I clear his driveway so that his father could get his car out to go to work at the post office.   I got stuck in that driveway but managed to clear it out well enough for Dad to get to work.  Then Granddad, who appeared to be in his 80’s asked that I clear his van out and move the snow away from the backdoor of the house that he usually uses.  I told him that I couldn’t do it until junior left for work, which would require just a bit of shoveling.  I asked for $20 for what I had done so far and told him I’d be back.  I got the $20 and didn’t go back.
My friend had a front loader.  His lot was clear and the snow piled high.  But I had no idea where my friend and his front loader were.  Both were gone and his phone didn’t answer.  Another friend answered his cell and said he would clear the driveways to my lot.   He said he’d call me when he goes to my place.  I haven’t heard from him yet.
Heading back to Highlands, the roads were still horrible.
Route 36 at about 4pm. Highlands on the left, Middletown on the right.

Route 36 at about 4pm. Highlands on the left, Middletown on the right.

Ralph St, Highlands at about 4PM

Ralph St, Highlands at about 4PM

Finally I got home.  Neighbor’s 14 horses was still stuck where we left it hours ago, but there were no cars caddy corner at the top of the driveway.  I successfully navigated around the tractor and up the driveway.  Down I come with the first swipe at the upper driveway.  I pushed the snow into the pile I started earlier and backed up. Something’s wrong.  The plow won’t go up.  I check the wires.  It’s connected and I can hear it engaging, but no movement.
The good news was I was home.  Back up the hill in reverse, dragging the plow.  Safely around the tractor and into my spot.
Tomorrow’s another day.
How was your day?
Posted: December 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 3 Comments »

3 Comments on “Tomorrow’s Another Day”

  1. Art Fan said at 10:48 am on December 28th, 2010:

    I loved reading this! Great story, Art.

  2. MLaffey said at 11:30 am on December 28th, 2010:

    My day was great Art. Thanks for asking.
    I spent all morning getting the driveway clean and then relaxed. Looks like I will be doing the same today as my street is still not cleared. Rumor is that a snow plow is a few blocks away but stuck in the snow.
    No question that this was the worst snow storm I have ever seen. My advice. relax and enjoy the solitude.

  3. John G. said at 8:49 pm on December 28th, 2010:

    “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray”
    Myself, I paid my neighbor’s son who’s home from college , to dig me out. Then heated up a bowl of some sausage, pasta, & bean soup that I made the night before. All in all, it was a good day. I enjoyed your photo essay, sorry you had to endure it, to write it. Hopefully they will stay in the house the next time and give you the first crack at it. Happy new Year.