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What Scots Call Their Snowplows


Some will take the high road. Some will take the low road. But a good Scot's gritter will take them all. A gritter, we should explain, spreads salt and plows snow, keeping cars on the road in icy weather like we are having on much of the East Coast today. In Scotland, all 213 gritters in the transportation department's fleet have a name. Like, they hold contests to name them. The names sound better, as most things do, in a Scottish accent, which I do not have. So we called my Auntie Dot, Dorothy Boyle. And when she came to the phone at her home in North Berwick, Scotland, we asked her to read a few.

DOROTHY BOYLE: Chilly Connolly, For Your Ice Only, Grit Expectations, Snow-be-gone Kenobi, Sprinkle Bell, License To Chill, Gritty Gritty Bang Bang.

KELLY: (Laughter) Snow-be-gone Kenobi. Thank you, Aunt Dot. Now let's hear from the top.

IAIN MCDONALD: My name is Iain McDonald, and I am the winter service manager with Transport Scotland.

KELLY: Iain McDonald told me the best part is if you are wondering whether Grit Expectations or Gritty Gritty Bang Bang - whether they're headed your way, you can follow along online. There is a real-time gritter tracker.

MCDONALD: The gritter tracker is something that everybody takes great interest in when it snows. You can see all the movements of the gritters on the Scotland map.

KELLY: And so on an icy or snowy day in Scotland, a lot of people are on this website, and they're following their favorite around.

MCDONALD: They sure are. And there's always more interest where the gritters have a good name behind them.

KELLY: I don't know if you'll get into trouble if I ask you to play favorites, but I imagine you have a favorite or some favorite names. What are some of the ones that you love?

MCDONALD: We all have our favorites. Only yesterday we named Buzz Iceclear (ph).


MCDONALD: So I'm sure that one would be pretty popular with "Toy Story" fans that were in the States as well. Gritney Spears is always a popular one.

KELLY: (Laughter).

MCDONALD: And for tennis fans, we're obviously very proud of our sport stars in Scotland and none more so than Sir Andy Flurry.

KELLY: (Laughter) OK. Well, and there's some that are just, you know, very plain but get the job done. I was a fan of Mr. Plow.

MCDONALD: Mr. Plow - we do have a Mr. Plow. Yeah.

KELLY: Transport Scotland's Iain McDonald. Plough on, gritters of Scotland. Plough on. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.