The Snow Removal Game


1036 Words

Copyright 1996 WHN

There was a mailbox there a minute ago...

Seeing as we've just received our first big dump of snow it might be helpful to explain to those newly arrived in Durango how the snow removal game is played. The snow removal game is sort of like "King of the Hill, " but "Not on my Turf " would be more accurate.

The snow removal game pits the city, with its massive snowplows and skilled drivers against a Chinese army of homeowners equipped with thousands upon thousands of snow shovels. By law everyone HAS to play the snow removal game, and the game continues all winter.

The way the game is played is this. The city can't leave snow in the streets otherwise kids couldn't get to school and the city could be sued for fostering ignorance. Homeowners and businesses can't leave snow on the sidewalk or they might get sued by someone who slips and falls, or worse, cited by the city for failure to shovel. (A 2 point infraction).

Between the sidewalk and the road is what's known as "Anyman's Land" where both sides are legally permitted to dump snow. Both parties play to remove the snow from areas for which they are legally liable. At dusk, whoever has the least snow on the property they're legally liable for is considered the winner for the day, and scores 7 points, same as a touchdown with a point after.

When shoveling your sidewalk it is perfectly acceptable to throw the snow anywhere but the sidewalk. This includes your yard, Anyman's land, and into the street. It's not considered good form to blow snow into your neighbors yard and an eight point penalty if you get caught caught. When the city plows the street they can shove as much snow onto your driveway and freshly shoveled sidewalk as they damn well please. Complaining about this injustice carries a 3 point (touchback) penalty, although, in practice, it's seldom enforced by officials.

Ploughmen reserve the right to bury small cars, cream mailboxes, and nail anything else that get's in the way of their blade. They paint little mailboxes on the doors of their cabs and get 2 points apiece for each car they leave completely buried. Completely buried, in this competition means snow covering, over and above the hood and trunk lines. A mailbox nailed with the wing blade, leaving the snow on either side of the mailbox pole untouched is worth 5 points.


Each time a ploughman goes after a mailbox attached to a swivel, or other evasive device the homeowner has constructed to allow his or her box to evade or escape destruction by the blade, the homeowner earns 25 points. The only rule is you have to have an eyewitness or home video of the ploughman's swipe to collect your points.

Ultimately, with both sides throwing snow the other's direction, most of it ends up in Anyman's Land. The only time-out in the snow removal game occurs when Anyman's Land gets stacked so high it starts spilling over in both directions, at which point the City, by default, is required to bring in front end loaders and truck the stuff to the river.

Extra points may be gained by shoveling your neighbor's sidewalk, 2X if they happen to be senior citizens.

-keep reading -

The snow removal game is played primarily during the day although road crews are often seen plowing at night in order to carry an advantage into the next day's play. The crews do this because they can score buku points for burying all the cars parked each evening. "Digging out" is the penalty for leaving your car in a place the ploughman can bury it, although its a labor (yardage) penalty rather than a point penalty.

Actually, there is a way to totally avoid having to ever "dig out." Since the plows always push snow to the right hand side of the road, if you are careful and always park on the left, you'll never have to dig out again. Think about it. Just watch. Tomorrow, after reading this, people will be fighting for spots on the left hand side and practicing parallel parking over the opposite shoulder.

Snow removal services are a way the elderly and infirm can get into the game. Removal services vary from paying a neighbor's kid $5 to hiring commercial operations with backhoes and dozers. You pay a 5 point per day for hiring a service. This ensures it's harder to win with a service than swinging a shovel, in order to promote physical fitness among otherwise sedentary snow country citizens.

You can tell who's a pro at shoveling snow and who's a lightweight merely by the variety and selection of their weapons. A pro will have a fancy snow shovel with a curved handle, a snow pusher, a grain scoop shovel as well as an ice chisel for the really nasty melted-on stuff. You'll see professionals using professional equipment, with wooden handles that won't break or freeze to their hands, equipped with metal blades that mean business. Spot a metal handled shovel with a plastic blade and there's sure to be a rookie attached to the other end. These are the same people who find frozen flagpoles irresistable to lick.

Snowblowers were originally designed for those unable to physically compete, but they're finding increasing acceptance among the rich and lazy. Most of the snowblowers I've seen are pretty lame. They crawl along at a snail's pace and can't throw the snow any further than I can flick a booger. Most present little or no hazard to limb or life of either the owner or oncoming pedestrians, making them no fun at all. In any case using a snowblower carries with it a daily 10 point handicap, 15 if it's got electric start, making it virtually impossible to win.


In April of each year "Spring Plowing" is held. This is the Wayne Gretzy Championship of snow removal. The spring snow is wet and heavy and sends more people to the chiropractor than all the winter slip and falls combined. You'll need a season total of at least 175 points to make it to the playoffs and the city brings only it's best ploughmen to the event. Don't even think about Spring Plowing your first season. But after one good winter, the kind where you have to shovel your roof to keep it above your ceiling, you might be ready.

Return to Index