MARSHALL PLAN: A mother's time to shine

Marshall Conner

Thanks to this pandemic the appreciation of snow days has dwindled in the eyes of our children. Snow days used to be a beloved Southern excuse to stay home. Now people want to escape home! Staying inside and parking our carcasses on the sofa does not hold the same charm as it used too. There are people that have browsed the entire internet, watched every Netflix film and literally worn out their loafers.

We used to call this period of the winter “The Dark Ages” when I was a lad in military school. This period had the most fights, arguments, depression, and hopelessness. What powered us to Spring Break was a reliance on dark humor. We had to keep ourselves entertained. In that spirit, I wore my favorite Scottish kilt to shovel the snow and slush from my driveway.

Why would I subject my neighbors to this? Humor my friends.

It is a way of saying I do not care about the elements or the chuckles of my neighbors. This annual winter homage to my ancestral roots had me thinking about Scotland. A couple of selfies with a cigar, kilt, and shovel must have triggered the Facebook algorithms. The old electronic-peeping Zuckerberg.

Magically an article popped on my newsfeed about an application in Scotland called Traffic Scotland that allows users to track snowplows (also known as Gritters in Scotland) in real time.

How helpful, I thought. How tragic that our snowplows here are left nameless and dull.

The article became better when I saw the hilarious names assigned to the Scottish snowplows.

Great names that include such gems as Luke Snowwalker, Salt Disney, Robert Brrrns, Plougher of Scotland, Sled Zeppelin, Sir Salter Scott, Gritlallica, Lord Coldemort, and Creedence Clear Road Revival.

There is even one that works around my family’s ancestral hometown of Linlithgow. The town is the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. Linlithgow Palace is located on the shore of a lovely loch. The local plow truck that salts and scrapes is named Mary Queen of Salts.

I had to look deeper into this. First, I verified the facts thanks to my friends in Scotland. As I laughed at the witty names I thought about how boring, unimaginative, and grumpy we have become here. We have become quite nasty to each other fighting over all types of things—just scan our news media.

According to a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) article, “The story of these hilarious gritter names goes back to 2006 when Transport for Scotland decided to run a competition in Scottish primary schools. Pupils were tasked with inventing the best possible names for a fleet of gritters. Children from far and wide answered the call and submitted their most inventive offerings, with the Scottish Transport Ministry selecting the best entries. The gritters became traceable in an online tracking service, launched in November 2016.”

Take note VDOT and town councils, this is a fun and practical program.

Over the weekend, I challenged my fellow Americans to try and top the wit displayed by the good people of Scotland. I was duly pun-ished with half-arsed attempts to name our local snowplows.

In our defense, there were a few good ones—however, I still think the Scots are beating us lovingly with a claymore while sipping single malt.

My favorite Culpeper-based ones included: Plowed Mary (by Skip Price), Mailbox Masher (by Tanya Melanson) and Scrape Fear (by Neal Brooks). Not bad.

My creations included: Eclectic Slide, Flake and Shake and Ice, Ice, Baby. Other notable favorites were Edward Snowed In, Jon Snow-Plow (Game of Thrones reference), and Blue Ridge Plow Way.

Still, we remain humbled.

A charitable Scot offered us these treasures: Make America Grit Again, True Grit, and Salem’s Salt.

Come on America, we just put a spacecraft on Mars so we should be able to come up with humorous names for our snowplows. We have proven we can call each other all types of names—why not plows?

What name would you give a local snowplow? Ask the kids, they might have a good one.

Unlike Scotland, our need for snowplows and gritters passes in a month or so and the warm winds of spring will arrive. Do not let our plow trucks slink back into garages without giving them a proper name.

Truck #25778—is not a name! It could be Side Street Salty!

I might just make a furry sporran out of a snarling Groundhog this week.

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