Ah, winter. Finally.
It took us a little while, but I’m happy to report the following: It’s 12:50 p.m. It’s cold. And outside Out There corporate headquarters (OK, perhaps the actual headquarters belong to the BDN), it’s snowing like crazy.
Some will not be pleased by that development. Namely my boss, who grew up in the mountains of western Maine and was scarred so severely by those harsh winters that the mere mention of the S-word makes her snarl, growl and spit. (In her defense, she was born on a tropical island, so she’s clearly not as tough as the rest of us).
But my next-door neighbor? He’ll be OK with this … um … S-stuff (my editor may see this, so I’ve got to be careful how I phrase things) My neighbor loves storms like this in large part because he’s an amazingly hard worker who canvasses the neighborhood looking for walkways to clear.
At some point tonight, he’ll likely knock on my door. If he doesn’t, it will be very hard to resist the urge to walk across our shared driveway and knock on his; to ask his mother, essentially, “Um … Do I have to shovel tonight?”
Most likely, however, he’ll knock. He’ll make his sales pitch, shovel in hand.
“How much do you want?” I’ll ask him.
“Doesn’t matter, he’ll say. “Whatever you think it’s worth.”
I’ll give him 10 bucks, in large part because I may be more than a little bit lazy, and in larger part (at least, that’s the way I rationalize things like this), because I think it is immensely important to show the youth of America that hard work is recognized, and rewarded. I know. I know. I have a hard time saying it out loud myself, but just writing those words down helps me sleep better at night.
Before that, however, he’ll knock on the door again and tell me he’s done. Then he’ll say something that always makes me smile: “I’m finished shoveling. I just want you to check my work and see if it’s OK.”
It always will be. And then I’ll gladly hand him a $10 bill.
“That’s too much,” he’ll say.
Then I’ll remember the last time I shoveled the walkway and reminisce about how much fun I had. I’ll notice that my feet are dry and my hands are warm, while he looks like a Yeti in a parka, and I’ll laugh. Then I’ll demand that he accept my token payment.
Reluctantly, he will, sure that he just put another one over on his neighbor.
Then I’ll return to the couch, equally sure that I got the best end of the deal.
Both of us, I suspect, will be correct.