Their job might be to keep the M50 motorway open for business during the worst cold spell for 30 years, but Dublin's gritters are receiving little thanks from the public.
Lucas Swiatek, a driver and supervisor with M50 Concessions, the company tasked with maintaining the motorway, has been gritting roads for over two years and has recently had to deal with hostility directed at him and his colleagues by drivers on the road.
"I get an awful lot of abuse from motorists," he said on Thursday night, while giving the Sunday Tribune an introduction to the art of gritting. "I would see them sticking their fingers up at me and swearing at the top of their lungs, or beeping their horns because they have been hit by some of the salt."
Swiatek, who is from Poland, recalled one night in the recent freezing conditions when he had five separate motorists around his truck, all shouting at him. "What can I do?" he said. "I can hardly stop and explain that the roads need to be made safe even if the times are not convenient."
The company's health manager, Andrew Doyle, said the level of anger has got so intense he has had to sit down with staff and discuss the best ways to handle the fury.
"The abuse we see is unbelievable. We stopped the traffic last week for 10 minutes to allow us to grit the surface and make the roads safe. But people are willing to get out of their cars and walk 25 yards purely to come up and shout at us. I dealt with one woman last week, and the things she was saying were just unrepeatable," he said.
"Even when I explained to her that by the time we were done, she would be able to drive normally in safer conditions and catch up with the other traffic with no time lost, she refused to believe it. It has gotten to the stage where we sit employees down and chat with them about how best to deal with the abuse. It's mad that we even have to do that."
Last Thursday evening, with the temperature at -1C, relatively mild by recent standards, dozens of gritting trucks were reloaded with salt supplies in their depot at Sandyford Industrial Estate, before heading out to work on the increasingly dangerous roads.
Out on the motorway, cars were broken-down on the hard shoulder with bonnets up, having fallen victim to the plummeting temperatures on the roads. Any cars still out kept a great distance from the truck, fearing their vehicles would be pebble-dashed by the grit being churned out the back. The gritters travelled at a steady 50km per hour, eyes firmly on the road and the motorists around them.
As the night went on, the sight of motorists became more and more scarce. They had clearly heeded the warnings being emphatically issued through every radio station and news report. Temperatures fell to -4C and a heavy fog made driving conditions even more difficult.
"It might be minus four, but it was minus six when I made my way in this morning at 7am," said Swiatek.
This gritting process will be repeated every night until the big freeze abates, with each route taking two hours, and gritters can expect to arrive into work at 7am, get home at 11pm and start all over again at seven.
M50 Concessions has been under huge pressure to find adequate supplies of road grit. According to the company, the shortage is adding to the public anger. It receives its deliveries from Carrickfergus in Belfast. However, so do many areas in the UK, leaving supply even scarcer.
In the estates and inner roads in Dublin, gritting operations are not as well-managed as the main routes. Paul Nolan, who operates a road gritting depot in Marrowbone Lane in Dublin, explained that Dublin City Council has extremely limited supplies of the salt materials and is prioritising.
"In terms of the criticism we are getting, people are only seeing what they want to see. They are only seeing their own road. But we have to get the main routes first. If you cut a tree at the trunk, the rest dies. It is a matter of priority when we are this short."
As the M50 road gritters also discovered, it's not just the anger of the public that can present a problem. Their very presence can hold things up as well. "On New Year's Eve, we went out to grit the roads," Nolan said, "but they were full of revellers and taxis and it made it very difficult. These are the other kind of problems we are coming up against".