Racing the giant slalom with a garbage truck

A stuck garbage truck blocked 17th Avenue East following a winter snow storm.

Steep hills, narrow alleys and seven inches of snow can bring a garbage truck to its knees in Duluth.

Trash days are Fridays in Chester Park. Unfortunately the city was socked with more than a half-foot of snow overnight. The storm turned streets and alleys into giant slalom runs with parked cars, utility polls and frozen trees as unmovable gates.

The driver of this nine-ton stink tank ain’t gonna win no gold medals.

I’m not quite sure how a garbage truck wound up sideways in front of our house this morning. It appears the driver tried a turnaround, lost traction and got too close to a parked car. The massive rear tires wrapped in chains could only spin in an uphill reverse maneuver. Going forward downhill meant a sure front end face lift for a grey Grand Am buried in snow at curbside.

A police officer knocked on my door.

“Are you the grey car?” she asked.

“No, I’m the black truck,” I said. “Should I move it?”

“You should be alright,” she said. “He can’t get around the car.”

I moved my truck anyway.

The garbage truck blocked the street for more than an hour. It looked like a dead whale marooned on a white marshmallow beach. The driver dressed in a neon green vest talked on his phone. Police stood by and other vehicles detoured down our alley.

Finally, someone with Grand Am keys marched through the snow and started the car. He backed it up maybe 10 feet. The garbage truck no longer had a tight turn. It pulled forward and straightened out. The beast backed up in a cacophony of beeps and swung up the alley. Its tire tread marks passed within inches of my now empty parking space.

Later, I saw a neighbor pushing snow mounds off his car hood. He was parked in the street well removed from the garbage truck drama. I stood by with a shovel as he nursed the car free from the snow pack and parked it around the corner.

It was shortly before noon.

“I don’t have to work until three but I thought I better make sure I could move the thing,” he said.

It appeared he was prepared for his own giant slalom commute.


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