Tuesday, December 10, 2013

the snow is really piling up outside

I hate snow. I mean I really hate it. I love the summer, the hot weather, the unencumbered feeling of not wearing a heavy coat. Then, winter comes along, dumps snow all over everything and fucks things up until April. Ugh!

Well, on Sunday, we were subjected to the first snowfall of the season. What the weather forecasters originally dismissed as "just a dusting," turned into a full-on, cold slushy mess. When it was all finished, it left several surprise inches in its wake, along with the looming threat of more frozen precipitation to follow. The local meteorologists blew the first storm of the year and we already logged in half the total of last year's snowfall in one day. This is not looking good.

After spending a good portion of the day staring out the window and expressing my disdain for the white-blanketed scenery, Mrs. P and I dressed in some warm clothes, pulled on our boots and gloves and set out to the task of clearing the thirty-seven-and-a-half feet of sidewalk that fronts our property. The snow had finally stopped and the sun had gone down as well, leaving us with the oranged-tinged glow from the street light to illuminate our chore.

We quickly finished. I headed up the front walkway towards the porch, stomping the remnants of clinging snow off my boots and dragging my shovel behind me. I turned to make sure Mrs. P was following me. She was not. Instead, she was crossing the slush-covered macadam of the street, heading towards our neighbors directly across from our house.

"Where are you going?," I asked.

"I'm going to shovel their sidewalk.," she answered.

In the 28 years we have lived on this block, I have spoken to nearly none of our neighbors. It's not that I'm not friendly, it's.... well, maybe it is that I'm not friendly. The family that moved into the house across the street are... dare I say it?... really nice. The husband is a general contractor who has done lots of work in our house, painting, repairing and plumbing (including this property-saving job at the beginning of the year). His wife has taken an instant liking to my wife (who can blame her!) and their three kids are sweet, funny and well-behaved (three prime qualities that I immediately look for in other people's children).

I mulled over all that they have done for us and that "neighborly thing to do" guilt gnawed at my conscience (yes, I have a conscience!). I trudged across the street to join Mrs. P. I muttered a few curses under my breath.

Their property is enormous compared to ours, including a long sidewalk and a very long front walkway leading to their porch. We shoveled as a team, starting at opposite ends of the sidewalk and meeting in the middle. Mrs. P tackled the front walk while I gave the sidewalk a sprucing-up once-over. We finished and, y'know, we felt pretty good. The old cliché was right - it's nice to be nice. We crossed back to our house and called it a night.

This evening when I returned from work, Mrs. P and I went out to run an errand and do some shopping. Before we left, we went across the street so my wife could deliver a gift to the youngest member of our neighbor's household. She bought him a snowball maker, a very cool invention that we all could have used when we were kids. With the snow currently covering the ground and the promise of more in twenty-four hours, it seemed like the perfect time to give an eight-year-old such a useful implement. He was thrilled and he ran outside to test it out (coatless and in his slippers, much to his dad's chagrin).

Dad began telling us that a friend borrowed his snow shovel to dig out her property and when she brought it back, she shoveled his property — the long sidewalk and the very long front walkway leading to their porch — before she left.

Mrs. P and I looked at each other. "Who shoveled?," we asked in unison.

"Karen." he replied, "She said she shoveled the front and all the way to the porch, then put the snow shovel where she found it and went back home."

 Mrs. P and I looked at each other. Again.

Our neighbor sensed something and finally urged a general "what?"

"We shoveled your sidewalk!" we exclaimed, "US!" I added, "I don't know who this Karen is, but I know who she isn't. She isn't someone who shoveled your sidewalk!"

He produced his cellphone and showed us a text message exchange with this Karen character, in which she takes full credit for our hard work. We were dumbfounded and we ratted her out. Happily.

We finally excused ourselves, explaining that we had to get to an appointment before closing time. As we crossed the street, I commented to my wife, "The one goddamn time I do something nice for someone, someone else takes the glory." My wife smiled. Doing nice things comes as second nature to her. It may never come to me again.


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