Complaint department.

I hear the big, end-of-season football game is coming to Minneapolis this year. Which got me thinking as I was driving into work and peering out the 8 square-inch clear spot on my windshield where I actually had good visibility this morning: How is anyone not from here going to survive this place when they come? And heaven help them if any of these visitors have real, live OCD.

I’m not even talking about driving on snow and ice. If you’re not from here, even getting into your car to go anywhere is like a 12-act Cirque du Soleil trying to figure out how to be able to just see out of the car windows to drive. And don’t take for granted that you’ll even be able to get in the car door without incident.

Sometimes you walk up and your car is under a foot-and-a-half of snow. And sometimes you stupidly open the car door without having brushed off the snow above the door. So sometimes, a foot-and-a-half of snow is no longer on the roof of the car, but in your driver’s seat. Wet, frozen buttocks for the next hour. Hooray.

And then there’s the ice scraping ritual. Oops…forgot to put the scraper/brush thingie in the car? Credit card: Ice scraper. Hockey stick: Snow getter-offer. Or if you don’t have those or they don’t work, just start the car, turn the defroster to full blast and live just over the edge of hypothermia for 10 minutes until that thing warms up and creates an 8 square-inch clear spot where you can see. Go ahead…put ‘er in ‘drive’. Don’t worry; by about 20 miles into your trip, the whole windshield will be clear…ish. Or so you think.

Because next thing you know, you’re dealing with road spray. You do the little windshield squirt-squirt, the wipers swish it around (if the blades are new enough), and then the second they stop, a fine mist of salty road grime has re-formed on your window. Squirt-squirt…repeat. Squirt-squirt…repeat. Sigh.

In the best-case scenario – like for 30 seconds at a stoplight – you get a short reprieve where you stop and think, “Finally! I can enjoy the view!” Except then those little drips run back down your windshield and make you buck-nuts insane.

You find yourself pounding on the steering wheel screaming, “can…I…just…have…a…clean…car…windshield…for…once!?!”

The piece-de-resistance is trying to decipher the exact configuration needed to deal with the inside of the windows. Like when it’s -10 degrees and your breath is fogging up and freezing on the windshield – it’s AC on, full defrost fan, but only 75% heat because too hot and you melt the frozen breath into water drops that run down the inside of your windows. But when it’s 10 degrees, you need full-on fan AND heat because THAT breath will turn to a fine fog with cooler air. Or 30 degrees – full fan, half heat, and crack the window because…well, who the hell knows why, but that’s what you learn you need to do to get the 8 square-inch clear spot.

Whenever I go to warm places like Florida and Texas and Iowa, I’m always amazed at how many car washes I see, and how there’s always a long line of perfectly clean cars waiting to get INTO them. I first think, “what a waste – my van was dirtier than that 30 seconds after I left the car dealership”, but then I realize that they don’t really love their cars that much down south, it’s actually a line of Minnesota expats or people who visited here that are engaging in therapy.

Welcome to the Great White North. As my friend, Barb, says, "We love it here."

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