23 January, 2005

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow - The Shaft

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow - The Shaft

Written January 22, 2005, by Dan Reams

Part 1 - Something Clinky This Way Comes

After years of pleading, begging, whining, and other manly actions, I finally got a two-stage snow thrower. It was waiting for me in the garage when I got home from work, thanks to my wife having arranged for free shipping.

This morning, still with my pre-coffee headache, with just two sips in me -- keen to get out with my new tool -- I donned my "puffy pants", water proof gloves, and other garb. Since the hardware store folks had run the machine to test it, its oil level was full, so I put fresh gas in, plugged in the power, turned it over, and it started like a dream.

I put it in reverse, backed out of the garage, and started down the driveway. At the bottom, where the plow had deposited three feet of snow, my Yard Machines GOLD series 8.5 HP 26" bundle of energy cut through it like it was butter (okay, hard butter, but still butter). Overjoyed, I went across the street, and cleared the bottom of our neighbor's driveway.

[Reams Snow Throwing Guide, Chapter 1, verse 1: Yay, let it be that he who hath the biggest snow thrower, or a capable snow thrower, must clear the bottom of his neighbor's egress, prior to their getting to it themselves. In this way, thine neighbor's penis shall shrivel, and thine shall engorge, and thee shall be hence unto a manly man.]

I went up their driveway. I went down. I went up again. I went again down. I went to change it to reverse, but it would not change into reverse.

[Reams Snow Throwing Guide, Chapter 1, verse 2: And if it comes to pass that one's mechanical beast of burden shall not reverse, check thy shift control shaft, to see if it still exists.]

Puzzled, I did a cursory visual examination. What had I done? I set my mind to investigate this after I finished my neighbor's drive.

[Reams Snow Throwing Guide, Chapter 1, verse 2, addendum: Cease thy foolish ways and investigate the cause immediately, lest the consequences of thine sloth be apparent.]

I muscled the rig backwards, manually, turned it around, and plowed back into the snow at the bottom of the drive.


'What is this?!', thought I, disengaging the auger. Looking into the scoop, I saw nothing obvious. I tried to spin the unit, but its torque was too high, and I could see no obstruction in its then current position. Knowing my neighbors were probably watching, I chose to continue on, vowing to have a package deal of auger-checking and directional-changing-fixing back at H.Q.

[Reams Snow Throwing Guide, Chapter 1, verse 2, addendum 2: And should it come to pass that a <CLANKing> sound is evident, cease all activities. Smother thy mechanized beast's breath. Enjoy the majesty of nature, on your puffy panted knees, and bow to the inside of its maw, lest you forever -- or for the remainder of the weekend -- live in shame.]

The racket was intense, but I cleared a bit more snow, then made an automobile path, for their next door neighbor, and went home.

Turns out my gear shaft had sheered off, and on my next pass I had scooped it up. It wrapped itself instantly around the drive shaft for the auger. I tried to budge it with vice grips, but it is steel, and the once straight shaft now resembled a small shock absorber spring.

They are coming to pick it up on Monday, and they will fix it for free, since I only had the thing turned on 15 minutes before the unfortunate event took place.

Part 2 - Yin-Yang, Shrinky-Growy - One man's shame becomes another's glory

Once I had ascertained that both problems -- the ability to change reverse/forward directions and the noisy auger condition -- were linked to the same source problem of the fallen, then consumed, gear shaft, I went inside. Being an oddly shaped portly individual, I was out of breath anyway, from dragging the thing backwards (before I figured out I could reach out, with my foot, and change the direction control), and I needed a coffee break.

Explaining the situation to my wife, Kristie, she offered to call Michelle, across the street, to ask her husband to come over and plow out the bottom of our drive. Kristie explained that this should be no problem, since they had called anyway, offering to clear our driveway, after seeing I had come in for a rest. Grudgingly -- manhood at risk -- I agreed, knowing my older snow thrower was not up to the task of the "big job" at the curb. The older unit is fine for light to near moderate conditions, but today's event would overwhelm it.

Shawn came over, blew my drive, and I helped as much as I could, with the shovel, toppling the snow to be lower, to help his machine. His thrower is as good as mine, or better, considering he has a functioning gear shaft. My assistance, with the shovel, did not really help him, but it made it look like I still possessed some small amount of testosterone. Of course, it diminished his sacrifice too, psychically implying that I could do the entire job by hand, and that I only "let" him do it so he could use his nice toy. Indeed, it was almost like he owed me one, at that point. To passers by it was I who was Hercules, and he merely Aeolus, gas-powered. I was like a go . . . or not.

I told him I felt like I had taken a generic Viagra, only to have it fail midway through the process [leaving the recipient wonting, the deliverer shamed].

Shawn was kind enough to clear the snow not only from the end of my drive, but also from a large part of the rest of it too.

His engine then failed, and he had to push the thing home, an arduous task through the snow. Being a man, he (rightly) refused my offer of aid. I offered to get him fresh gas, which he also (again rightly) declined. Being a man, he will deal with his engine failure in his own way, and I wish him well. It happens -- or so I hear -- to all of us, at one time or other.

Part 3 - Of Non-Human Bondage - The Belt

WARNING - The following segment contains low-brow innuendo. Reader discretion is advised.

Knowing that I still had some snow moving to do, on the sidewalks, and that more snow was yet due to accumulate, through drifting or downfall, prior to the return of my new machine Monday, I knew I would have to resurrect my old machine. She is a single-stage (a.k.a. eunuch) two-cycle putt-putt.

Being plumb out of two-cycle oil, I went to the local convenience store gas station and filled both my large gas can and my two-cycle gas can (with oil mixed at the appropriate 50:1 ratio, of course). My gas guzzling 4x4 Expedition had no problems on the road, and I made sure to make folks in lesser vehicles uncomfortable and impotent as I sped past them in the snow-covered lane.

Feeling all testosterony, having recouped some of my losses after the 'dropped shaft' affair, I plunged the nozzle into my awaiting, waifish little snow thrower. Mmmm. Filled it to the rim. Want some more? No. Maybe later? I'll be ready in about ten minutes.

I plugged her in, and she squealed with delight. I rolled her onto the driveway, and engaged the auger . . .

. . . no, no I didn't. The auger would not spin. Had she been faking, all those other times, or did she feel slighted by the more buxom replacement? Why could she not satisfy me, and why could my touch not bring about spinning culmination in her?

I brought her into the welcoming warmth of the garage, gently laid her on her side, and screwed her cover off. A tear! Oh no! Her belt was asunder. I felt good again, for me, though sad for her. It may have been my strength that did it. Not my ineptness! (Never that!).

Off to the hardware store I went. I bought a new belt. I will put it on her tonight, and she will blow as much as she can, until she is overcome.

No matter how much she moves for me, it shall not be enough. As I use her, I will think of her replacement, and dream of her return. Both the little one and I know this, though we do not speak of it. We have a momentary return to the way things were. Though this short time be all that we have left, all that there can be . . . it will be enough.

For me.

- Fin -