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Plow drivers put in long hours clearing snow

Updated: 02/14/2014 8:40 PM
Created: 02/14/2014 7:43 PM WNYT.com
By: Steve Flamisch

ALBANY – Shawn Carey started his shift at about 12:00 p.m. Thursday. Close to 30 hours, ten parking lots, and one break later, he finally went home.  

Carey drives a plow truck for Community Property Services (CPS). He is one of 16 CPS drivers clearing apartment complexes, businesses, and non-profits across the Capital Region.

"I didn't know really what I signed up for eight years ago, but it grows on you," Carey said. "Once you get out there and you're pushing the snow, you're seeing what you're getting done."

Carey gets it done with a joystick-operated Fisher plow – "it’s like playing a video game" – attached to a white Ford F-250 Super Duty truck.

NewsChannel 13 rode with Carey as he cleared the parking lot Friday at the American Legion Zaloga Post on Everett Rd. As the plow cut into the snow, a crystal spray hit the windshield.

"The trick is, keep it all going one direction," he said. "Try not to keep going all over the place. You want to do it nice and uniform. The neater it is, the less times you've got to go back."

Having plowed the same lot hundreds of times over the years, Carey has come to know instinctively where the pavement ends. But he is always checking his surroundings.

"Safety is a big issue for us," he said. "Everything we want to do is safe, make it safe for everybody else that we’re plowing for."

PAIN AND PROFIT

Plowing is a physically demanding job. Carey continually looks over his right shoulder when backing up. He twists his body hundreds – if not thousands – of times per shift.

"You make good money, but you’re sacrificing," Carey said. "Your neck hurts. Your back hurts. Everything ends up hurting when you're done."

Despite the long hours, Carey is wired. He chases swigs of Pepsi with a handful of Mike & Ike candy. During past snowstorms, he has taken naps in the cab.

Wearing a New York Yankees cap and jacket atop snow pants and work boots, the scruffy-faced Carey deftly navigates the truck – occasionally stopping to help a stranger along the way.

"You help a lot of people randomly, like when you're driving over," he said. "Like today, I probably plowed about four or five people out."

Carey finally wrapped up his shift just before 5:00 p.m. Friday. This weekend, he and his co-workers will return to the Zaloga Post with a backhoe to move the snow banks.

"You’ve got to keep going," he said. "It's definitely not the business for you if you don't want to be working long hours."

CPS maintains a fleet of eight plow trucks, three loaders, and two backhoes. Major clients include Friehofer’s, National Grid, and several apartment complexes and gas stations.

Albany

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