This weeks entry is a sister column to one I wrote a few weeks ago titled, “Freshly Shoveled.” This column at first may seem like more effort on my part to make the mundane seem even more mundane when written about but it is less about the act of plowing than the actor. This week I want to write about our grader operator, Gerry Hermreck.
If you live out in the country, you live and die by how well the roads are maintained; bad roads in the summer are bothersome but poorly maintained winter roads can be deadly. I always think of a grader operator as a sort of knight of the road, working by himself to make sure rural folks wake up to good roads. Prior to Jerry’s arrival, our road maintenance was of a quality where I believe that with a few phone calls, I could have arranged a group of neighbors with pitch forks and torches to meet me at the local county shop. Jerry does excellent work as a summer maintainer but I believe he really shines technically when it comes to showing finger drifts the door and cutting down the build up of snow from the edge of the road in a timely manner.
Here’s the real story, Jerry’s a good guy and his physical stature inspires confidence. I mean when you see the grader coming and the outline of it’s driver almost fills the cab, then you know the cavalry is coming. When I first moved to our farm, I was driving up the Pembina Trail and saw a moose in the distance walking along the shoulder of the road. I wondered what the moose would do as I approached until I realized that this moose was Dave Hermreck, Jerry’s father and that Jerry comes by size naturally. All that aside, it’s nice to have someone who handles the mammoth job of clearing the county roads yet still can finesse his way in and out of our driveway. It’s not an easy task, try driving your house down the road sometime and you’ll get an idea of what faces grader operators on a daily basis.
I suspect most who maintain the roads are pretty good at their job, otherwise they would have to move on to something else. I guess the fact that Jerry is “our guy” and that we’re friends makes me a little biased in his favor. Truthfully though, I’ve seen how bad it can be and I give praise where it’s due-meeting someone on the road who’s friendly and decent plus clears your path is an asset to any neighborhood and to the county. I don’t know what others think when they meet massive vehicles on the road but when Jerry throws me a big wave with that catchers mitt he calls a hand, it truly inspires me to think one thing, “how did they get that moose into the cab of the grader.”