Arts and Culture

How to get my job: snow plow operator

We just had one of our first messy snow storms of the year, causing plenty of people to slip and slide around the streets of Denver and curse the snow gods and subsequently the snow plow gods. We decided to catch up with a snow plowman to figure out exactly what it takes to get the job done right -- so we went out and found T.C. Dominguez, of Wash on Wheels here in Denver, to give us the rundown of what it is that makes a good Mr. Plow.

Westword: How long have you worked in the field? T.C. Dominguez: I've been doing this 17 years.

WW: What's an average day like? TCD: You start by getting your tuck warmed up, which takes about 15 minutes. Then you have to get all the snow off of it. From there, you go to the gas station and make sure you check all your fluids and oils. Then you hit the road and hope all the morons trying to drive in the snow are off the road so you can get to your site. Once you're there, you have to plan it out where you have to push the snow. Figure out what cars are in the way and what you'll have to go around. Then you just start pushing the snow. If it's heavy, you just clear it out, you don't clean it out. When you get the first pass done, then you go back and clean it up. That's when you angle your blade to make sure it's all clean and cut. If the night goes well, that's it. We do most of our work at night, so the roads are more clear and the lots are empty.

WW: So, how do you know where to go? TCD: We're subcontracted by private parties, so we do a lot of businesses, parking lots, that kind of thing. That's why you'll see plows "not doing anything" sometimes. We're on our way to a site.

WW: What's the most gratifying part of the job? TCD: When the customer's happy. When they say it's nice, that's the most gratifying, because you know people won't slip and fall. I also just enjoy being out there when nobody is out there, just pushing snow by myself.

WW: What about the worst part? TCD: The worst is when you break down, it's cold and you don't have parts. Then you have to wait for someone to bring you parts or limp your truck back to the shop.

WW: What's the worst storm you've worked in? TCD: Man, maybe '93? We were out for about three days, non-stop. We were sleeping in the truck. I've been through so many snow storms, it's hard to remember. When the snow is like that and it doesn't stop, you have to keep going. You finish up, then you turn around and there is more snow on the ground so you have to do it all over again.

WW: What do you think people's biggest misconception is? TCD: People thinks it's easier than it looks. People think it's just pushing snow, but it's not that easy. You have to plan out where the snow is going. You have to make sure your snow is piling up right. If you don't do it right, the snow is going to start coming back on you and you'll be taking up more space than you need to.

WW: Has there ever been anything you've been particularly proud of? TCD: I was out once for 23 hours straight, and the trucks never broke down, and we got the jobs done right and as quick as possible.

WW: What do you do in the summer? TCD: We pressure wash. We clean buildings, cars, walls, emergency spill cleanup, all that kind of stuff. We do some graffiti removal too.

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