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2014/02/25 / tocovava

News from The Stockton Urinal

          City officials bungling into a surplus on the holiday budget helped with the roads. The surplus, which was thrown down in grit and salt, came from shuttering the gas-guzzling cherry pickers. The cherry pickers are used after the holiday season to take out of misery the sodden snowmen lifting their old top hats while trying to twist their necks into the metal cables hanging from the lamp posts, cable latches clanking like death knells, snowmen up there still smiling and still lifting but no longer merry on dead January nights. The shuttering of the cherry pickers was a direct result of the high covering of snow piles in the middle of Main Street. City workers scampered up the snow piles, unlatched the ornaments, then slid them down to a waiting co-worker for loading into the back of a city truck. That was a happy accident of the massive snowpiles. The bad accidents were the car crashes due to city plowmen being overzealous in their plowing. It became sort of a wager between them to see who could make the biggest pile without causing an avalanche back onto Main Street. In the wager ‘someone’ inadvertently covered up the traffic signal over-hanging the corner of East Main and Stockton Avenue. For a few hours the top of the snow pile glowed green, yellow, red, before new snow smothered it completely. Then came the car crashes from drivers not knowing who had the right-of-way. No major injuries were reported, a blow to local attorneys.  There are always whispers though. In a stop-gap measure the city set out yield signs, propped up in Christmas tree stands (they’d been clanging around in the back of a city truck since workers dismantled Santa’s House a month ago.) ‘Someone’ shoveled out the traffic signal. Only one signal cover was cracked during the shoveling. The situation, though avoidable, had been growing for a while, and not just from the record amount of snowfall this year. Old-timers might remember when plows pushed snow to the sides of Main Street downtown. Accordant civility saw people parked over the outside lane on Main Street, basically moving the parking spots into that lane. Stockton City police knew the parking spots were plowed in, so they issued no tickets. It was a certain precaution one took while living here in these seasons. Those ancestoral plowmen, spurred on by competition and No-Doz, were just as zealous, maybe overly aggressively so, as their modern-day sons. Gathering late at Messiahs’s after a night of plowing, laughing over beers, legs jittering like crazy under tables, talking too fast about how ‘someone’ pushed snow right up against the doors of the Jacobs Pharmacy. That’s how they were, half-plowed themselves, in those wildcat days of the Plows-Down ’80s. So geeked on pushing snow off the outside lanes and over the marked parking spots that invariably snow would get shoved, like a pillow-y twerp, partway over the sidewalk. Forcing the early morning shoveling of doorways by merchants and their staff, those were the twerps with their little bellies and soft chairs behind cash registers. The Downtown Association of Merchants complained of hampered trade. The solution from the one council member was to suggest bikini-clad gals behind them cash boxes. The snow problem was resolved by re-directing the angle of the snowplows.  Now shooting snow in the middle of the Main Street creating snow piles on the inside lanes instead of on the outside lanes. Parking spots and the all-important sidewalks left as clear as a conveyor for shoppers. The height of the snow piles this year look fantastic, but with most fantastic-looking things they are dangerous. It is difficult to see around them, the snow piles, not that fantastic-looking guy, fit and rippled in a perfectly-tailored shirt, hairline like a novel, who invited you in all those years ago, it was Italy and you thought you’d have opportunities like this your whole life. Who could ever know? You got older, your mirror took your looks day after day. Why is it always about looks? But it is and you got older. Oh please just one day from the past. You got older. You have to wear glasses because your eyesight has weakened. The glasses magnify the gray wrinkles under your eyes. You have trouble seeing around the massive snow piles downtown. You aren’t the only one. There have been more car crashes in this winter season than ever before. Even that sentence got mangled. 

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