Cleaning the Windshield

By Michael Temple

Photo by Dreamstime

Recently, I was once again reminded how not to clean a car windshield on the morning after an ice storm. I live in one of the coldest regions of the United States, but this winter has been especially brutal with below-zero temperatures, biting winds, and wintry accumulations that wreak havoc on the commute to work. On these mornings, getting to my job is a chore; wanting to prepare for the drive there seems even more challenging.
On this particular day, thick ice had accumulated on the windows of our Toyota Rav4. I pulled out the trusty ice scraper and began the arduous task of removing the one-inch layer from the windshield. After five minutes of chipping and scraping, it was obvious that this method was an exercise in futility. As hard as I tried, I wasn’t making any measurable progress.
As I was wrestling with the windshield, a thought suddenly occurred to me; I had forgotten to start the vehicle to warm it up while I was scraping. Perhaps it’s just a symptom of being out in the cold, but I hadn’t even thought to turn over the ignition and flip on the window defrosters. I reached inside the car, fired it up, turned on the heat, and went inside the house to warm myself.
After another few minutes I peeked out and could see that the icy windows were already beginning to show promise. The open spot where I had been scraping appeared to be getting bigger, and I could see the frozen accumulation begin to slough away from the glass that was now warming up. I let the car idle for another five minutes, and the progress was remarkable. The ice was now sliding off the glass and the windshield was becoming dry and clear. 
I was reminded as I slid in behind the wheel of our little red car that the ice that accumulates on windshields is a lot like the ice that can frequently appear in the behavior of people we often meet. Perhaps it’s there because of the freezing winds of life experience that have blown across their years. Maybe it exists from some tragic circumstance. People often attempt to insulate themselves with a layer of icy protection that keeps them from being wounded over and over again.
Chipping and scraping isn’t very effective on windshields when the layer of ice is really thick. It isn’t very effective on people either. A warm environment seems to do the trick though. Thoughtful words, caring thoughts, and a warm smile do so much to remove the layers of ice.