Snow Removal?

Posted: December 14, 2010 in Lublin, Poland

The title of the video: How to shovel a sidewalk to tick off your neighbors.

Once the snow falls, snow removal becomes one of the hottest topics of conversation here. That’s probably true in most winter locations, of course. The difference in Poland is that snow removal is much talked about, but little done about. (I know – that’s not correct grammar – so what). We got around a foot of snow 2 weeks ago, on a Monday. Now, in any country, a foot of snow takes a while to clear. In Wisconsin, people would stay home, schools would close, etc., to give the plows a chance to do their job.

In Poland, nothing closes. Ever. I heard some schools closed last year for a couple of days due to snow, but in our 11 winters in Poland, our kids have never had a snow day. So, when the foot of snow fell, people kept driving – and of course, the plows had a terrible time removing the snow. Some people took a couple of hours to go 15 miles, begging the question – why? Why bother? Just stay home! Nope. That’s not Polish culture. Yet.

As soon as the snow began to fall, though, people started complaining about the plows, and the poor job they were doing. When I would try to say – well, they can’t plow, the streets are full of cars, my friends just looked at me like I was from Mars. Most of the snow had fallen by evening rush hour, and the city quickly became gridlocked. Finally the city government closed Lublin to semi traffic, and began to close down streets, one at a time, so the plows could come through. Again, when I asked my friend why they didn’t just close the schools, universities and government offices for the day (which would take care of at least half the drivers), he said: well, who knew the plows would do such a bad job? You can’t plan ahead for that.  (As an aside, the forecast predicted at least 10 inches or so of snow)

The company that plows our street took 10 days to get to it. 10 days. They have to pay a very hefty fine for being so late, but still. 10 days? It didn’t particularly bother me – we do most things without our car, and I love walking in the snow. My neighbor was very upset, though. 10 days does seem a little bit long, doesn’t it? We live right in the middle of the city, not way out in the boonies, somewhere.

That’s partly why the video is so funny. Everyone along our street shoveled around their cars, shoveled in front of their garages, and maybe in front of the entrances to the aparment buildings. But no one was going to shovel the whole street – or heaven forbid, the sidewalk – which still hasn’t been cleared. So islands of snow developed – when most of the cars would be gone to work during the day, it was like some kind of alien landscape of huge white mushrooms.

The last couple of winters have seen progressively more snow. It will be interesting to see if Poles begin to change some of their habits – like staying home, cancelling school, etc. If not, oh well. Kaye gave me a pair of snowshoes last year.

  1. Jennie says:

    It really does seem like a “duh, why didn’t I think of that” situation. Maybe, in all your spare time, you could become the snow removal advocate for all of Poland. I guess it makes me appreciate our snow plow system all the more 🙂

  2. Radoslav says:

    Good roads and… problems.

    We have a many holes and we were staying 🙂
    Anyway my friend: Luke 8, 7 :*

  3. Jen – perhaps someone should make a push to change the snow removal procedures. I’m really not that concerned about it, though. Like Radek refers to in Luke 8:7 – seed among thorns. He also is quoting a comment from the video he posted – from Portland in 2007. The Polish comment referred to the fact that at least in Poland, if you start sliding on a road, you know you will soon slide into a hole in the road, bringing you to a stop 🙂

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