good will shoveling
Today we had the first truly heavy snowfall of the season. I’d estimate anywhere between seven and eight inches. The Philadelphia area does not handle snow well. Having lived in places where seven to eight inches was just another typical day of winter I know enough to know that the roads were going to be chaos. Even the night before a sense of dread hung over the neighborhood.
Which is why I was up at five thirty in the morning shoveling my neighbor’s driveway.
I’m always suspect when I hear someone talking about a good deed they did. Good deeds that are shared with others sort dilutes of some of the good will if you ask me.
I’ll risk it to relate the following story.
Why was I shoveling my neighbor’s driveway in the first place? I thought I’d never ask.
Last year my neighbor bought a snow blower. Not just any snow blower but one of those giant ones that removes enormous patches of snow with the slightest push. Apparently it was a “three stage” snow blower. What the third stage could be remains a mystery to me.
- Turn it on.
- Blow the snow.
Anyway, all last winter he would be out on his driveway at the first flake. Not only would he clear his driveway and sidewalk in a matter of minutes, he then proceeded snow blowing his way around the entire neighborhood, clearing off everybody’s driveways and sidewalks with an almost palpable glee.
Because he wore a mask I couldn’t tell for sure, but it certainly looked like he’d be wearing a smug look on his face. The mysterious third stage perhaps?
The worst part was that all summer he never even mentioned it to anyone. Not one time, not to a single soul.
Not this winter. No sir. Not on my watch.
I was using one of those good old fashioned shovels that removed a small patch of snow and only required a Herculean effort. Apparently I am one of those “three stage” shovelers.
- Pick up shovel full of deceptively-heavy snow.
- Endure waves of tightness in the chest followed by shortness of breath.
It was clearly going to be one of those classic John Henry confrontations. Man vs. machine. Man vs. himself. If I remember rightly, John not only beat the steam-powered rock drilling machine but went on to lead a long and happy life. Somewhere deep down in my aching chest I knew I was going to be fine, just like ol’ John Henry.
And sure enough, I was. After only a few dizzy spells that left me waking up face down in the snow, tiny red dots sprinkled across the whiteness, it was done. Man had triumphed. My unwavering willpower had once-again prevailed against a perceived opponent.
So why did I shovel his driveway before my own?
I think the following scene from Good Will Hunting might shed some light on the topic;
Will: He used to just put a belt, a stick, and a wrench on the kitchen table and say, “Choose.”
Sean: Well, I gotta go with the belt there, Vanna.
Will: I used to go with the wrench.
Will: Cause fuck him, that’s why.
Fuck him. That’s why.