A Texan's Guide to Shoveling Snow
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A Texan's Guide to Shoveling Snow

A Texan's Guide to Shoveling Snow

It's 2014, my second semester at Tech, and more importantly, my first semester with a car on campus. As I'm gearing up for some seriously insane Lubbock weather, my parents have been talking to me about winterizing my car. It's pretty hard to believe that it can be so cold that the condensation in your gas tank freezes the fuel line and you can't open your car door. What is easier to handle (and much more fun) is winterizing my wardrobe.

Once a year, we go over the Red River and through the Missouri woods to my more than slightly hyperactive Italian grandmother's house located in the lovely West Suburbs of Chicago. If we get lucky enough, my family and I get a lovely blanket of "lake effect snow" to go with our Christmas. This year, we got to experience the infamous "polar vortex". 

As we were sitting around the kitchen table, watching the snowflakes pile up onto the back porch, my mom, who's a native Texan, innocently asked my dad, "Did you ever have to shovel snow, sweetie?" My dad scowled and scoffed, took a sip of his coffee, and replied, "Are you kidding? That's what children do up here." I rolled my eyes, tired of my dad's constant reminder of how "lazy" kids are today. My dad must have caught me at a moment of weakness, because what he said next knocked my toe socks off. Before I could protest, I was bundled up by grandma and was pushed outside, plastic orange shovel in hand, to a new personal level of torture.

My dad is thoroughly convinced that ski gear is everyday attire. So while I was fashionably dressed in my Eddie Bauer fleece with my letters on it (Snaps to Alpha Delta Pi's Novelty Chair) and my white and blue beanie, my dad looked ready for Sigma Nu's 80's themed Ski Resort party. As my father lectured me on the "fine art" of removing snow from the driveway, porches, and sidewalks, I could only think "How in the world could I be so cold while being so sweaty?" Gap skinny jeans do not insulate well against the below freezing winds. After an hour of cold, hard labor, I was elated when the warm, basil-scented air of my Gram's house hit my frozen cheeks.

As I was enjoying leftover Christmas Cookies and hot toddies, my dad (or as we call him, "The Colonel") laid out his "tactical offense" against the ultimate battle against three feet of predicted snow. To my absolute horror, I learned that we would go out two more times before nightfall.

Well darn.

In years past, my mother would more than happily volunteer herself to the novelty experience of shoveling actual snow instead of ice. Much to her dismay, she was recovering from foot injury and my sixteen-year-old sister was too lazy to do anything. Since I was the only other able-bodied adult in the house (and my dad enjoys seeing me suffer), I was volunteered to go out in the frigid weather.

The second time around, I conveniently layered my Alpha Delta Pi fleece under my super thick Equestrian Team vest. My dad still looked like a neon hot mess. I looked down at the driveway in utter shock and horror. Two hours had passed since I had tirelessly worked to reveal concrete under the annoying white fluff, politely listening to my dad's overly nostalgic tales from winters past. Now there were 6 more inches than when I started. The temperature had dropped to 8 degrees Fahrenheit. We fell into a rhythm of shoveling snow and hacking ice, with more stories of my dad walking through great depths of snow (uphill of course) to school and cross country skiing home.

As I removed my wet layers of snow and sweat inside Gram's house, something magical happened. Gram had something green in her hand. It was lettuce. Not iceberg lettuce, but hard currency lettuce. Money! Yes! People actually get paid for this! Of course Dad, trying to be polite (and cheap), refused to let me have the money that I had unknowingly worked so hard for. She commanded her favorite and only son, "Don't argue with me, Gregory. I'm old!" My next round of shoveling another foot was more enthusiastic, as I was actually getting paid.

I carefully weighed this newfound knowledge,  Lubbock is farther north than the metroplex and actually gets snow. I need to learn more about how to survive in a winter wasteland without freezing to death, or worse, crashing my precious car. After doing a little more research on winter weather survival, I found some really useful tips on how to survive wintry weather.

For one thing, many people fail to layer. It's best to wear a thin, long sleeved shirt or a thermal undershirt underneath your PR shirt (Old Navy has a ton of really cute layering items for super cheap) . I also learned that cotton jeans and leggings are terrible when it comes to protecting you from the cold. Try to avoid wearing just skinny jeans or just leggings, and wear both. Another really important tip is to not wear just your monogrammed ear warmers. Yes, they're super cute, but your head loses the most heat, therefore making you a lot colder. Post holiday clearances are everywhere and have super cute hats for a decent price. Even a hood will work. As Grandma Rosie says, "Warm head, warm toes."

Do some research on cold weather tips for your car. You would not believe how many people don't know that there is a window defroster built into their car. When the ice builds up on your back window, there's a special button on your dash that sends heat from the battery to the little lines on your back windshield. If you absolutely have to go out, let your car warm up at least 10-15 minutes before you drive away. Go by Walmart and get a scraper so you can scrape the ice off your windshield (that's what's going to save you from ruining your Student ID and being super late to chapter), and make sure your windshield wipers aren't frozen to the windshield. Trying to make them move when they are stuck wears out their motor. Another really important tip is to keep your gas tank full so the fuel line doesn't freeze and check the air pressure on your tires (For more information go to www.cartalk.com/content/winter-driving-tips-7).

In conclusion, my experience with the cold was most definitely an eye-opener. Now that I'm on my own, snow and ice don't just mean canceled classes and hot chocolate. Winter weather adds the responsibility of personal health and car maintenance. Hopefully, it won't get below 10 degrees these next couple of months, but if it does, I'll be ready.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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