I have already shared what I think is my best (at least most salacious) snowy day story; https://www.myretrospect.com/stories/snowbound/ but I do recall another one. It’s set on a snowy night, though!
I had always been fascinated by the ideas of working at night, working outside and working alone.
It wasn’t the sort of snow that you use to build snowmen or snow forts. Nor was it the kind that packs into good snowballs or falls on slopes to sled down. This was a mix of snow and sleet, snain, graupel, whatever the weather people like to call it. Uncle Weatherbee* on Eyewitness News that night would draw a funny cartoon to go with the storm.
Most kids love snow, but no one loves what was falling that night. I leaned against the warm old cast-iron radiator and stared morosely out my living room window, watching the street outside become a white, wet, slick and frozen mess. The room was dark. Around me, the Christmas lights tacked to the frame of the window blinked red, green and gold. These and the street light directly across from my house provided the only illumination.
A green truck pulled up, parking in front of the fire hydrant directly outside the window. An oil tanker. The Wellen Oil Man had come to deliver fuel oil. I loved it when the oil man came.
I had always been fascinated by the ideas of working at night, working outside and working alone. As a kid I thought that people like night watchmen, milk delivery drivers and, of course, the Wellen Oil Man, had the best jobs ever.
I watched as the driver swept the snow and ice from the sidewalk around the cap of our oil tank in the basement. He used a big cross-shaped wrench with various attachments that fit the caps he encountered to open the filler pipe. He looked up and waved at me as he used a long stick to gauge how much oil we would need. I waved back. Then the driver went to the back of his truck and pulled the thick gray hose with its bulky nozzle over to the open pipe, inserted the end of the nozzle into the opening, and turned on the oil. I could see the numbers on the gauge on the side of the truck as they rolled upward, counting out the gallons in decades; ones, tens and hundreds if needed. He seemed cold as he stamped his feet and waited for the tank to fill.
Finally the surge valve on the nozzle turned off with an audible metallic click. The Wellen Oil Man slid the nozzle up from the hole, tapping it against the filler pipe to avoid getting drops of slippery #2 fuel oil on the sidewalk. He rolled up the hose, made out our bill on his thick aluminum clipboard, and headed up the stairs and into the hallway.
I opened up our door before he knocked. He said hello, icy drops melting on his uniform jacket shoulders and green cap with the Wellen Oil logo. “Give this to your parents,” he said, handing me the invoice. I assured him that I would. He said good night and walked out into the storm, back to his truck and his deliveries. As always, he smelled like fuel oil.
I still love that smell.
* See the Wikipedia entry on Tex Antoine
A hyper-annuated wannabee scientist with a lovely wife and a mountain biking problem.