Whenever we get a whole bunch of snow and school gets cancelled, all of a sudden our house turns into a taxi stand. The minute we can wiggle the truck out of the snowbank in the driveway, Little Bill’s lookin’ for a ride to his girlfriend’s and Rosie’s lookin’ for a drive to her friend’s place or the mall or a meetin’ for one of her save-the-world groups.
I swear, every time we had a snowstorm this winter, them kids are out of bed earlier than they are on school days and they’re goin’ shack-wacky askin’ for a drive here and a drive there. And it seems each time Minnie got somewhere to go too, whether there’s a real important sale on canned peas at the grocery store or there’s a life and death situation that depends on her gettin’ a casserole dish back to Joan. So anyways, ya know what happens, it’s me that ends up out there in the driveway with the shovel huffin’ and puffin’ for an hour. Then the three of them pull out in the truck like a bat out of hell and I’m left standin’ there with the legs of my pants caked with snow, a sweaty mess with a rope of sniffles hangin’ out my nose.
So we had the radio on there after supper and they mentioned we’re in for a big snowstorm overnight. Uggh, I said. Them kids are gonna be houndin’ us for a drive somewhere and I’m gonna be out there shovelin’ all mornin’.
Well we’re not gonna shovel the driveway just for them to go out galevantin’ all over town, Minnie said.
See what she did there? “We’re” not gonna be out there shovelin’. Well since I’ve never seen Minnie pick up a shovel in the driveway in all the years we’ve been together, I’d say that’s a somewhat innacurate assessment on her part. Not that I’m sayin’ she should be out there shovelin’, but still, it’s funny the way she thinks we’re both in on it. Like half the job is yellin’ at me to do it, and the other half is me doin’ it.
Kids! she yells, C’mere! And ya can hear the groanin’ and shufflin’ comin’ from upstairs, and it’s a good five minutes before the two of them finally show up in the kitchen doorway.
Whuh? the two of them say.
There’s a big storm comin’ and school’s prolly gonna be cancelled tomorrow, she says, and the two of them mumble because the internet’s always three steps ahead of their parents on anything.
Now, she said, the last few snow days the two of yis got up and start squawkin’ ya need a ride here and ya need a ride there, and it’s me and your father that end up out there shovelin’ and drivin’ yis around.
I had to bite my tongue here, I swear to cripes. Because as far as I can tell, the hour of shovelin’ puts ya out a bit more than drivin’ a truck for ten minutes and droppin’ two kids off while ya were goin’ out anyway. But I like stayin’ married, so I don’t say these things.
Well things are gonna be different this time, Minnie says. Because this time, the keys to the truck are gonna be out in the driveway, buried in the snow, and the two of yous gotta get out there first thing in the morning and dig the driveway clean until ya find them.
Whatever, Little Bill said.
Lame, Rosie said.
Groans and eyerolls, and the two of them turned and sulked their way back upstairs while Minnie yelled after them and said she was serious.
Well, I had to hand it to her. Minnie’s plan was fairly brilliant. What a nice night we had, all cozy watchin TV, me happy I’m not gonna be spendin’ the morning out shovelin’ and her right pleased with herself that she tricked the kids into doin’ the work.
And just like we do every night, after Minnie went up to bed, I let the dog out the back door so he could do his business, and I remembered we never put the keys in the driveway. So I took them off the hook and leaned outside and threw them as far down the driveway as I could. I didn’t even see where they landed it was stormin’ that bad.
The next morning, we’re standin’ in the window drinkin’ our tea watchin’ Little Bill and Rosie out in the driveway, shovelin’ like they were gettin’ paid for it. It was still snowin’ like crazy, but there was just a wave of snow goin’ up on each side of the driveway as the two of them dug and dug.
An hour and a half later the two of them come in, soaked and pantin’ and exhausted.
There’s no keys out there! Little Bill said. Yis tricked us, didn’t yis?
Ha! Minnie said. That’ll teach yis! And that’s when the lecture started. She put on her jacket and started steppin’ into her boots. Yis learned your lesson now, didn’t yis? she said, and she reached behind the door to get the keys from the hook.
Where’s the keys? she said to me. Are they in your pocket or somethin’?
The keys? I said. I threw them down the driveway before I went to bed. I thought that’s what we were doin’?
Oh for cripessake! I just told them that! We weren’t really gonna bury the keys in a snowstorm! You’re tellin’ me they’re actually out there in the snow somewhere?
So for the next two hours I was on my hands and knees in the snow until I found the damn keys halfway across the yard where they got flinged by the shovel. Minnie was still cursin’ me when Joan came to pick her up.
It wasn’t even my idea! I yelled after the car, but they tore off into the blizzard to save ten cents on butter.