Mercedes-Benz G-Class - Gelandeplowagen

Neither have I mastered the rhythm of the routine, the dance of the Curtis. Plow down, transmission in drive; plow up, shift into reverse. Several times, I shift into reverse and hear a grating sound to alert me that I've forgotten to lift the blade and I'm now dragging the plow backward. When backing up, I've also got to remember that I have a seven-foot battering ram hanging off my front bumper, which is an important consideration when you're reversing around a dealership full of brand-new Benzes. At night. In a blizzard.

This isn't just any blizzard, either. The tollbooth lady got her wish - and then some. Not too far from here, snowfall reaches twenty-five inches. The governor declares a state of emergency. And I'm out plowing I-95.

But only briefly. The line of cars inching along behind me might appreciate my goodwill, but the snow is so deep that if I go faster than 20 mph, it curls up over the top of the plow and begins spraying across the windshield. I raise the blade, and, fortunately, traffic catches up to a real plow crew.

The snowplow convoy meanders along in a tight flying-V formation, foiling the attempts of civilians to get past. I hate when plow guys do this. There's something nanny-ish about it, like the trucks should have signs on the back reading, "You're annoyed now, but you'll thank us later." Hey, if I want to bust ahead into the powder to do 55 mph on my all-season tires and spin off the road, then that's my right as an American driver. I find myself cursing the plow guys aloud before realizing that I am one myself. Sort of.

As I keep heading south, the snow turns to sleet, and I see queues of plow trucks waiting on the overpasses, their yellow lights counting down the minutes until the order to deploy. According to the trip computer, I've spent nearly twelve hours in the driver's seat, much of it staring into the hypnotic swirl of snow in the headlights. Plowing is fun for a little while, but after the fourth hour or so, it gets lonely and monotonous, even in a G-wagen. The G550 has proven that under the posh leather and the lighted kick plates that define its modern role as a status symbol, it's still a rugged, solid-axle old beast, a truck to put the fear in the Soviets and remind everyone that Germany is a country not to be trifled with. The G-class outlasted the Buggles, the Berlin Wall, and Lehman Brothers, and tonight it has outlasted me. My colleagues will be patrolling the roads until dawn, but right now it's time for Mr. Plow to hang up his jacket.

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