Off the Hook

After a long, hectic day on the roads and in the ditches, tow truck drivers rest for another day’s worth of the same 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

December 3, 2005

At 8 p.m. on a hectic, snow-filled day, you can warm your hands by the heater at River’s Edge Towing.

But heater priority goes to the drivers’ wet and well-used work gloves.

Mike Muma and Jason Shaner stacked eight pair of soaked gloves in front of the space heater and rotated them to the top of the pile.

“Nothing worse than putting on a wet pair of gloves,” said Shaner, 29, owner of the family business since shortly after high school.

Thursday brought 22 different calls, including a Volvo that went into a creek near Trout Lake, Wash. By early evening, Shaner and Muma, a part-time driver, were hunkered down at the Country Club Road towing headquarters, waiting for calls. None came. The day’s craziness was over, and Shaner and Muma were not complaining.

By 8:30 p.m., a light snow was falling but most roads were clear.

“This time of year not much happens after about 8,” said Shaner, who started driving for his father, Bob, when he was 16 years old and a student at Hood River Valley High School. Because of his age, he needed to be insured through Lloyds of London.

“We grew up together,” Jason said of he and his father, who still drives part time, and his brother, Kevin, who started the business in the 1970s as an outgrowth of Bob’s River’s Edge service station located at the waterfront. Kevin now lives in California. Jason always knew he wanted to assume ownership. Bob resisted selling to his son, until 1997, when he suffered a serious injury while working.

“It happened right here in this yard,” Jason explains, backing the Volvo into the storage yard on Industrial Way. “It was winter and the J-hook broke in two from the cold.”

The portion attached to the cable snapped back and broke Bob’s leg below the knee.

was 18 at the time, and the accident convinced Bob that the time had come to hand the controls to Jason.

The company is growing and needs the room, but the life of a towing service runs in streaks, even on storm nights such as Thursday.

“You never know what to expect. Any day it could be something huge or nothing at all,” Jason said.

So before the shift ends at 9 and the doors are locked, Shaner and Muma have completed the paperwork from the day’s operations, and checked truck fluids and battery levels. They made sure flashlights, chains, and other equipment are all working properly.

And the other task is the gloves.

Before you get home and dry, get those gloves warm and dry.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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