A frosty reception to a new, more expensive ice scraper

The Baltimore Sun

Every time a new winter season approaches, I treat myself to a new ice scraper. It's the eternal optimist in me; I hold out hope that maybe this year, this new ice scraper will effortlessly and uniformly remove all ice from my windshield.

After all, design and technology are continuously advancing. We see it happen week to week in the computer and electronics market, and pretty regularly in every other business sector. For example, now I can throw out all of my old sponges and get the ShamWow. I can titillate my taste buds with ice cream flavors like Double Vanilla or Extreme Moose Tracks. I can alarm my friends and family by wearing vibrantly colored mascara with glitter. So why wouldn't there be considerable improvements made to an important tool like the ice scraper?

That's how I justify buying a new ice scraper, even if it bears a significant resemblance to the one I purchased the year before. I convince myself, saying: "Surely, there must be some valuable modifications here that are not visible to the naked eye, because this ice scraper is certainly more expensive than last year's!"

I must admit, I almost look forward to that first really icy morning, so I can try out my brand new ice scraper. In my mind's eye, I will place the scraper on my windshield, and with one simple gliding motion, the ice will peel back in curls like I'm making a butter sculpture, though I've never made a butter sculpture and I'm not sure I see the point in them.

This year's moment of ice-scraper truth occurred just a few weeks ago. I stood there on my driveway in the frigid pre-dawn, one hand clutching my coat closed and the other poised to begin the ice-removal process. This year was going to be different, I just knew it!

I placed the plastic blade on the windshield and pushed it forward and drew it back, making a satisfying scritch-scritch sound as I scraped with the Zen of a true believer. Ice dust flew. I was encouraged.

I stepped back to admire my work: approximately five random, wavy pencil lines of clear glass went across my windshield.

Once again, I was surprised by a keen, Charlie-Brownish disappointment, which was quickly replaced by annoyance and frustration. I inspected the blade, determined that there was nothing wrong with it, and approached the job again, this time with two hands and considerable fury.

Scrape, scrape, scrape!

Now I had the five pencil-width lines plus a few button-size patches of clean pane, primarily down by the wipers where I had the car's defroster blowing full-blast. I abandoned the futile ice scraper, and ran into the garage and the kitchen as I have done every year, hunting for some unorthodox tool that might scrape ice from my windshield.

As a public service, here are some common household items that appear to work as well as the basic auto-parts-store ice scraper for creating small, largely useless peepholes in thick windshield ice. Also, they may scratch your windshield:

* The high heel of a sturdy shoe

* The hard plastic lid of a five-gallon drywall bucket

* That brown plastic pot-scraper from The Pampered Chef

* A dustpan

* A rigid piece of trim or molding

* An inverted metal spatula

* A library card

* An unopened can of Spam

(Don't bother with the following items: tennis racquet, six-pack of frozen juice boxes, bicycle helmet visor.)

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with windshield ice removal, because I see a lot of drivers hunched over their steering wheels, peering through ludicrously small clearings. That's dangerous, and I'd rather be late to wherever I'm going than on time to an accident scene I've caused.

Unless I'm crashing a meeting of the International Society of Ice Scraper Design Professionals.

To contact Janet or hear podcasts, visit http://www.janetgilbert.net

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