We spent an hour talking with plow guys and it was eye-opening
Another week, another big winter storm in the Garden State.
On Thursday's show we dedicated a whole hour to take calls from people who plow snow, either for the state DOT, or counties, municipalities or even private companies doing retail parking lots or residential homes. I already had a ton of respect for these folks, which is why I wanted them to tell their stories. By the time that hour was up my respect was even greater.
This is a tough job that the motoring public tends to do nothing but complain about.
"Where are the plows?"
"They haven't done a thing!"
"They were lined up sitting on the side of the road doing nothing!"
A couple of things. The plows are there, trust me. You are one person, at one moment in time, on one road, with a very limited perspective, OK? If they haven't gotten to the stretch of road you're on, or haven't gotten back to it for a second or third pass, that doesn't mean they're not out there.
The DOT has a strong fleet of over 500 trucks for plowing and road treatment. On top of that they contract out many more based on need. If you don't see one in a big storm, it only means they are covering other areas at that given moment. So give them a break.
As far as the observation that they're lined up on the side of a highway doing nothing while the snow is covering the lanes? People who do this for a living confirmed what I already knew. They don't roll until they receive orders. It's a well-coordinated system involving lots of logistics and moving parts. The orders come from up top, are handled through field supervisors and word is dispatched to crews telling them exactly when to move. They are NOT just sitting there being lazy drinking coffee.
Speaking of "lazy," these people are anything but. We heard story after story of how they will stay on the job until it is done, literally working 24 hours straight, and sometimes for three days in the recent case of that terrible nor'easter, with only an hour or two break to sleep then right back at it. They are out there when the rest of us are told to stay off the highways. Even during a travel ban, they're there, risking their lives in some cases.
Does staying awake that many hours and working relentlessly take a toll? You bet. One guy called on Thursday talking about how when he's done 48 or 72 hours with very little sleep he sometimes has hallucinated. He has seen babies wrapped in blankets lying in the snow on the highway.
So please, try to realize that these crews get things back to normal for us in an impressive amount of time. Oh, also? Stay out of their way! Another common theme among the plow operators who called was how drivers get impatient and try to cut them off, cut in between, and do stupid things putting everyone at risk. They're there earning a living, sure, but they're doing it for all of us.
If this were an old Bud Light commercial, I'd end it with, "Here's to you, tireless plow guy!" But seriously. They work their asses off. Please give them space and give them some appreciation.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.