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Samaritans on ice 

A final entry from the Icepocalypse Diary 2013, delivered late by a Deputy Observer and thus after our press time last week. Too fun to hold onto, however:

"The Observer lives on the side of a ski jump nestled in the midtown area of Little Rock, well off the radar of the city's elusive snow and ice removal crews, if such creatures indeed exist. Given the state of Greater Little Rock's bridges, side streets and overpasses for most of five days, we suspect those crews may, in fact, be as imaginary as Bigfoot and the Wampus Cat.

"In the midst of Icepocalypse 2013, two impressive-looking SUV's found themselves marooned in front of The Observer's apartment building, having found out too late that ice spares no vehicle on a 45-degree slope and that they were unable to do anything but slide and spin. Much to our face-palming delight, one of the stranded drivers insisted on compounding the problem by bringing out pitcher after pitcher of hot water to pour under her tires. Said hot water, of course, froze solid brief seconds after it was poured, eventually forming an ice slick of a size and thickness suitable for the figure-skating competition of the Lilliputian Olympic Winter Games.

"After watching several misguided efforts to free the behemoths — and having helped free hundreds of similarly stuck vehicles in our younger, snowbound days up north in St. Louis — The Observer decided to do the charitable thing, which was to put on our boots and lend a hand, with the aid of three other good Samaritans, one with a Jeep and a soon-to-break tow rope. A neighbor suggested the use of kitty litter as a traction aid under the tires, and The Observer dutifully ran to retrieve a recently purchased jug of litter. We poured it under the tires, then watched helplessly as the driver dumped yet another pitcher of hot water on top of it. Within seconds, the litter went from hard grip to a wet, slushy goo that coated every item placed under the wheels, from cardboard to planks of wood to carpet scraps, with a viscous slime just a tiny bit less slippery than whale dook on the bottom of the ocean.

"Manhood must be served, however, so with much pushing and pulling and a new tow strap attached to a more mobile and ice-worthy Jeep, the driver was finally freed. Last we saw of her, she was disappearing over the hill to shouts of: 'Just keep driving 'til you hit flat pavement.' "

And a sunnier dispatch from a Deputy Observer who resides north of the river:

"Quoth the T-shirt: 'It's Nicer in Dogtown.' That shirt speaks truth, and some of the clearest evidence is creeping along North Little Rock's boulevards and avenues as we write this missive. Behold the glory that is the North Little Rock leaf vacuum!

"Whilst our southern neighbors must suffer aching backs as they stuff leaves into bags and frozen fingers as they finagle with fiddly twist-ties, we on the sunny side of the river merely pile our leaves by the curb, to await their date with the most magnificent municipal amenity imaginable.

"It arrived at the Observatory's Argenta Annex this past Monday, heralded by the basso rumble of the slow-moving truck and the attendant throaty howl of the vacuum. We were more than happy to answer an early morning (for us) knock, moving our car at the request of a disheveled but well-mannered Street Department employee. Then we took to the Observation Platform just outside the front door, the better to witness the spectacle.

"It's a three-person operation: One to crawl the truck along the curbside at the speed of a toddler, one to man the massive vacuum tube, and one to rake madly and ensure no leaf goes unsucked. Our own pile was fairly modest, the mistletoe-ridden willow oak having yielded only a few cubic yards of leaves — hardly enough to warrant jumping into. But it was still fun to watch them vanish, lickety-split, into the maw of the vacuum and be flung into the back of the truck, ultimately destined for a compost heap. After 30 seconds, at most, our curbline was clear of the offending vegetation."

That giant sucking sound you hear across the river is northsiders never having to bag leaves again. Things really are nicer in Dogtown.

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