A few weeks ago, when the snowstorm hit, I was fortunate to have neighbors who knew that I had a bad knee, a bad back and a cardiologist on retainer. Paul and Eric shoveled our driveway and Noah (Eric’s 10-year-old son) somehow managed to maneuver the snowblower.
As they finished at about 4:30 in the afternoon, I threw on a coat and went outside to thank them.
“Wow,” Paul said. “You are still in your pajama bottoms. You haven’t gotten dressed yet?”
“Don’t be silly,” Eric said. “He’s getting ready for bed.”
This was our third winter in this neighborhood, and up until last week, we had not had any major snowfalls. But in our previous home just a couple miles away, we did have a few blizzards during the 25 years we lived there. I know, because as a TV reporter, I covered many of them.
Back in those days, the last thing I wanted to do was shovel my own driveway. After I got home, I’d walk outside and scan the neighborhood. A few of my more fit neighbors were hard at work, but I was looking for teenagers motivated to make a buck (or 40) shoveling snow. Where were those big, manly 17-year-olds whose parents had bumper stickers that said, “My son is a lineman for Lawrence North”? I’ll tell you where they were. They were home posting selfies on Facebook or Instagram.
When I was a kid in New York, as soon as school was canceled due to heavy snowfall, my best friend Arthur and I got into our warm coats, armed ourselves with shovels, then set out in the neighborhood by 8 a.m. to make a financial killing. One day, I came home with a wad of scrunched-up wet bills in my pocket. I showed my mom the stash of $52.
“That’s more than your father made today!” she said.
She wasn’t kidding — and we didn’t tell Dad.
We never had a set fee for our work. Instead, we did a little glacial profiling. We knew who was desperate. Like the widow Mrs. Abramson, who was snowed in and couldn’t get her l959 station wagon out of the driveway; or Dr. Auer, a bigshot surgeon who would pay us pretty much anything we’d stick him for, just so he could get his Cadillac to the hospital.
Yes, our pricing structure was downright dishonest. And now, 55 years later, I deserve to be taken advantage of. So, I waited at the front door — a door I couldn’t get out of, money in hand but no takers.
Many thanks to Paul, Eric and Noah, who saved the day. I want them to know how much I appreciate what they did … mainly because there is more snow in the forecast.