When the first big snowstorm hit Boston, the two-footer that started it all in late January, Jillian Tenen had the flu, so she was in no mood to go out and shovel her car.
She’d get to it, she figured. Eventually.
Eventually finally arrived this week. What unfolded in the interim was a tale of winter woe shared by an untold number of Bostonians who, like Jillian Tenen, thought there would be no harm in putting off the digging for just a little while.
But the storm dumped two feet. Then the plows came, and they piled the snow up on the corner of Isabella and Arlington streets, and somewhere under there was Tenen’s 2007 Honda Civic.
It became a topic of conversation in her Bay Village neighborhood, she said. Everyone would ask how she was going to get her car out. She did not know.
A few days later, she and a coworker took a crack at it. There was no way.
“I’m 5’ 2,” and it was all ice, an iceberg on top of my car,” said Tenen. “I couldn’t reach it. I couldn’t lift it. And even if I could, there was nowhere to put it. I just didn’t know what to do.”
The 29-year-old Tenen works as a meetings and events manager at the Westin Copley Place, and can walk to work. So her plan was to basically abandon the car until the weather cut her a break.
It did not. The weather did not cut anyone a break this winter.
Tenen moved to Boston from Florida two years ago. She had bought a shovel before the winter started. She thought she was ready, but there was no preparing for this.
At first, she admits, it was kind of funny, a joke to share with friends — the girl who couldn’t get her car out.
But then that changed, as one storm led to another and another and another and more than 100 inches fell.
“I’m usually a positive person, but I just became so bitter and cranky,” she said. She cried more than once, had a few meltdowns. “I just felt helpless.”
She has no family in the area, so her neighbors stepped in and tried to help. They loaned her ice picks and shovels. It was a nice gesture, but what she really needed was a flamethrower or the world’s largest hair dryer.
She called the city for help, explained the majority of the snow was from their plows.
“They were remarkably unhelpful,” Tenen said. “They just said, ‘Sorry.’ ”
Her insurance company was no use; they said they could get involved only after the car was out and they could see the damage. But, of course, she could not get the car out.
She called a snow-removal company and left a message explaining her predicament. They did not call her back.
She tried a towing company, and after explaining the situation to a woman on the phone, Tenen was told it would be no problem. They’d been doing things like this all winter.
“The tow truck driver came, looked at it, and said, ‘Sorry.’ ”
When at last there came a few warmish days, she went out with an ice chopper and hacked for hours. She built stairs in the ice to get to the top of the car, and a friend helped her try to get the car out. They could not, though she was finally able to get in the door.
Surprisingly, the car started. Unsurprisingly, there was some nasty damage waiting for her inside. The windshield had collapsed under the snow and ice, and there were dents in the roof.
On Sunday, finally, thanks to a tiny little bit of help from the weather and a friend, she finally got her car loose. That night, it snowed again, officially making this the snowiest winter ever recorded in Boston.
She cleaned the car off quickly and set up an appointment to have her windshield repaired so she could finally go to the grocery store.
“If I had to do it again, I would definitely do one thing differently,” she said. “I would not park on the corner.”