Saturday, December 11, 2010

What Goes Around Comes Around in the Snowmageddon

Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman, final image from

Earlier in the day, I wound up helping several folks get their cars out of the snowbank, and even though I think "Pay it Forward" is a terrible, terrible movie (nice IDEA, poorly executed), those karmic points came in handy later on.  My car was parked on the even side of the street, meaning at 8 a.m. tomorrow it would be tagged or towed.  But merely hopping in and driving it around the block wasn't really an option.  So...
Step 1:  shovel out enough room to drive off.
Step 2:  shovel away enough room across the street from step 1 so I could do a 3-point turn.
Step 3:  shovel enough of a space on the odd side of the street where I could park.
But even that wasn't enough, because after all that work, it turns out my car wouldn't start.  I called the roadside assistance on my cell phone, as they offer free towing, jumpstarts, and tire changing.  But they told me that due to the weather and the high demand for such services, there was a 12-hour delay for anyone who was not actually stranded out in the cold.  If I couldn't find someone to help me out, my only other option would be to wake up at 8 a.m. and plead my case with the tow truck drivers as they hauled my car off to the impound lot.  And tow truck drivers and traffic control officers aren't generally noted for their sympathy.

So, I went to my neighbors and asked if they could try giving my car a jump.  So much snow had gotten under the hood of my car, it looked more or less like this:

Except it was harder to tell there was an engine under there somewhere.
So we had to repeat steps 1 through 3 for HIS vehicle so that he could get out and close enough to jumpstart my car.  Thankfully, it worked out and I'll avoid the $300+ towing/impound fee.  Now everyone else, go and do what you can to help your neighbors too.


  1. Snow emergencies in Minneapolis are an annual problem. This snowfall is particularly bad because the snow depths prevent average passenger cars from getting traction on the pavement and the empty spots that could be found are covered in drifts and inaccessible.

    I actually drove the Penn/26th/Girard/Lowry loop a have dozen times trying to find a street that was accessible and locate a no tow parking spot. Tomorrow when the sides switch everyone will repeat this process.

    Snowfalls like yesterday are a rare occurring but having spent 4-5 hours seeking a No-tow snowbank to force my vehicles into made me wonder why the City of Minneapolis doesn't clear some lots so that people have someplace to put there vehicles during a snow emergency like other communities do?

    If some of the school lots and other vacant areas around the North side were cleared and people were allowed to park there overnight, the city could do a much better job of clearing the streets. This would certainly reduce the anguish and increase the safety factor for residents frantically trying to comply with snow removal efforts.

  2. Agreed. Not everyone is as able-bodied as I am, and folks shouldn't be punished for being quite literally physically unable to comply with the snow emergency.

  3. Parking ramps. Quite a few local parking ramps are pretty inexpensive, especially by comparison with a towing charge. If you can stash a car for a couple of days and carpool with your neighbor who has 4-wheel-drive you'll save yourself a lot of hassle.

    Also, I think some stores and businesses were letting people park in their lots if they were going back out to be "good samaritans," i.e. rescuing others who were stuck/stranded.

    Things to keep in mind for the next giant blizzard!

  4. That is a crazy ordeal to go through. It's nice to have great neighbors willing to help you out when you get into a jam. So much for the AAA however.

  5. You might try just shovelling a spot clear in the yard and parking there until the city gets done with this nonsense.

  6. In my case, at least, that's actually more work than shoveling out a parking space. I also have alley parking, if that ever gets cleared out.

  7. So as I was shoveling out the Hawthorne office, I thought about how gargantuan that task was, and the Percy Byce Shelley line came to mind: "My name is Ozymandias, Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

    And THEN my mind got to thinking about the companion poem by Horace Smith and I got to writing a snowy version as I went along. I wasn't going to publish it anywhere except my own Facebook page, but then the Strib had to go and put a piece of Vogon poetry in its letters to the editor today. That cinched it; I had to put this out there to bring balance to the universe.

    In Minneappol’s snowy silence all alone,
    Stands a gigantic Scoop, which far off throws
    The only shadow that the Blizzard knows:
    “I am great SNOWYMANDIAS,” saith the snow,
    “The Plow of Plows; this mighty City shows,
    “The wonders of my hand.” The Blizzard’s gone
    Nought but Shovels remaining to disclose
    The site of this Snow Emergency.
    We wonder, and some Stranded may decree
    Snow to the Curb not plowed sufficiently,
    Where the Dome stood, holding games of chase,
    But met some fragments huge, whence now we guess
    Where the Vikings will be playing next
    Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

  8. What did it cost the City of Minneapolis to forgive all the towing fines and how much labor was involved in ticketing cars from the first Snow Emergency and how much additional cost was it to issue the second Snow Emergency?

    Snowstorms are not a new concept in the Minneapolis Area. Forgiving all the fines was a great gesture - but it came out of our already depleted revenues.

    Again, why can't the City clear out adequate areas for people to move their vehicles to when the streets are being plowed?


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