Ours is the two-story Lannon stone on the corner. We don’t own a mammoth lot, but we are responsible for snow removal for quite a good number of linear feet. My husband takes meticulous (read: freakishly OCD-level) care of the snow surrounding our house and alley. Tom lovingly tends the sidewalks, alley, alley apron, and the streets, yes, he blows snow from the street IN THE STREET. See, he likes a nice straight line, so after the city plows roll through, my husband “fixes” what they’ve sullied in their pedestrian attempts to clear city streets. Your protractor can’t create the crisp lines and angles my husband carves with a snowblower and shovel. I am not exaggerating.
Sometime last August, the neighbors held a block party. I’m a shitty neighbor, so I dropped in to the soiree only briefly. Tom was working and I suck at social mixers, alone especially, but I’m a decent human, a mostly go-along-to-get-along kinda gal in neighborhood goings-on, so I went. Plus the neighbors I do know? They’re wonderful people. I missed the part of the afternoon where they discussed winter snow removal, so weeks later, someone mentioned to me that a bunch of residents wanted to chip in to hire a plow service.
My hubby is the rare weirdo who enjoys snow removal. He savors the alone time snowfall allows him. He’s genuinely happy shoveling or blowing snow, and takes immense pride in a job well done. Before Izzy died, Tom would spend too long a time out there amid all types of wintry precipitation, reveling in the silence with his loyal canine, who never left his side. Caleb the Wonderdog can’t be trusted not to wander off yet, so he is forced to fly solo this winter. The man takes his snow removal seriously, y’all.So I was sure Tom wasn’t interested in the neighborhood deal, but presented the idea to him nonetheless. He said he’d take care of replying to the neighbor with a “thanks, but no thanks.” Instead he responded with an email that quite frankly, made him sound like a dick. You might think he’d ask me to read it (’cause, you know, I’m a competent writer/editor) or maybe ask what I thought before he fired it off, but no. I was slightly horrified when he showed me what he wrote. He sounded like a total dick (sorry, Honey, but I said it to you then, and I’ll say it now–you sounded like a jag). I successfully blocked this from my consciousness until this week. Do read on.
Flash forward a few months, he’s out walking the dog the other day. A neighbor, with whom we have yet to exchange one single syllable, stops him to inquire why he was unwilling to participate in the collective.
My husband seemed surprised that this guy we don’t know knew about his plowing non-participation, and I’m like, “Of COURSE he knows about it. The whole neighborhood knows about it. Your original email was probably forwarded up and down the block, and now probably the whole neighborhood thinks we’re assholes. Were you a dick to this guy today?”
“No, I wasn’t a dick to him.”
“No. I mean, not do you think you weren’t a dick to him, but really, were you a dick?”
“No, really I wasn’t a dick to him.”
And yes, this is exactly how the exchange went.
So now we’re the Taylor Avenue pariahs (it’s possible I’m overstating things).
As my husband would say (and has said, which is not the most neighborly phrase to use in an email to your neighbors, FYI): so be it. Guess what? Since 2005, my husband has been out there before the ass crack of dawn, plowing razor sharp lines, clearing the alley apron so cleanly you could eat from it. He not only clears our portion, but often plows neighbors two and three deep down the block. You’re welcome. Wait, we can’t say “you’re welcome” because no one offers a thank you (except Jodi and Jeff and Maren, and maybe one other–you are good souls and supportive, generous, and kind neighbors!). We have personally footed the bill for the south end of the block’s snow removal and alley clearance for 11 years. He’s plowing before you even know it’s snowed–you’re still sleeping while he’s helping our ‘hood under cover of darkness. Then he’s blowing snow immediately upon returning home from having worked in the frigid outdoors all winter long so you can drive right in when you get home from your workplace. Acknowledged: his motivations are self-serving as well as serving the greater good. He does sincerely enjoy being outdoors in and after a brisk, bright snowfall, and our family directly benefits from his snow removal, obviously.
My husband is a good, hard-working man. He has done more than his fair share for over a decade. Hell, I’ve squawked about his helping too many too much too often (See? I really am a shitty neighbor). Even when he was unemployed for those really tough periods of years, he was blowing through oil derricks of petrol because he’s a decent guy. He does the right thing because he believes it’s the right thing. Even when gas was up near $4 a gallon, he was out there clearing our end of the alley in a way some hired gun won’t take the care to do. And I guarantee he’ll be out there this winter (see photo insert above), even though all y’all are gonna give us the stink eye, cleaning up what the truck misses.
So I’m braced for the stink eye you’re going to give, but dear nearby residents, I ask you to engage your long-term memory, and remember how your vehicle never got stuck on our end of the alley. If you were late for work, it wasn’t because you couldn’t get down the alley on our end.
Rant off. You may resume humming “Let It Snow” now. It really is beautiful out there.
PS–If it were up to me alone, I’d have kicked in. Snow removal is not my special gift, but you see, compromise. . .