Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Storm Etiquette

You are incredibly lucky, on days like this, if you have a driveway. Or parking pad. Any spot that is yours alone, which allows you to park your vehicle off the street. If your car resides in a garage even better.

Mine used to, but now the garage is occupied by a much sportier tenant. Evan's car is living there while it waits for him to come to retrieve it once he is stationed. So my truck, no luck, is in the driveway. In bad weather, even if it's just a driveway, that's a good thing.

Growing up in the city, I didn't even know driveways existed. Homes, other than row houses, were foreign. Didn't everyone live with two families attached to their home by walls? If a strong sense of community exists, this intimate arrangement can be quite nice. Neighbors hop the porch rail to bring extra cake they baked or food that they want to share. Getting the neighbor's mail is no problem at all. Making sure all the kids are safe is as easy as walking outside and visually sweeping the perimeter.

Snow, however, can change all that goodwill in a short second. If you're not inclined to follow the unspoken rules of city civility...well, let's just say, you'll be shunned once the snow has melted. There are some things you just don't do. As well as things you must do.

The response to snow is as individual as neighbors. When I lived on Falkirk Road, Roseanne was my next-door neighbor. Her house was always, 'just so.' Like a firehouse dog waiting for the bell to ring, she dealt with things immediately! For Ro, most of life was a battle that required attack plans. She battled dust. She slayed grass that had the nerve to grow really fast after a rain. She fought the leaves even before they fell! The dirt that landed on the front porch. The city soot that covered windows. Any element that challenged her from keeping the orderly upper hand. And as it related to snow, she hovered. Shovel at the ready. Every hour or so she'd jet out to tackle it, or make husband Tony shovel what had fallen.

I have to say, like most of her house keeping methods, I thought this was extreme. But, that was Ro. However when Doog would sweat and swear, because the job was now massive since he always waited till the storm was done, I began to see the twisted wisdom of Roseanne's method. Handled a bit at a time, the work was more managable. The years I lived on my own, I employed her method. It was the only way that worked without someone there to help.

City ordnance insisted that steps, walks, and sidewalks in front of homes have the white death removed within a reasonable period of time. Even though, generally, the city owns the sidewalks. Still, you're responsible for keeping it cleared, or be fined. It's a safety issue.

Imagine attempting to dig a car out on a snow bound street...where do you put the snow? Certainly not out in the middle of the already clogged street. Or, behind your car onto your neighbor's. Probably can't throw it to the front, either; the other neighbor's car is jammed in the same predicament. How about, fling it onto the sidewalk? Okay, so long as it's only the sidewalk in front of your house.

Start there...bend, lift, fling. Repeat. Again and again. And, when the snow is really deep, after you dig it out, pray the snow plow doesn't pen it back in again while clearing the street!!!

Once the car is dug out, now what? It took hours. What happens when you leave? You will have to leave eventually. That guy up the street never digs his car out...never. That SOB will just come home tonight and put his car in your cleaned out spot. Ass! What can you do to make sure the hard-won spot is there when you get home? Ah...go get a lawn chair! Yep. That piece of light weight aluminum with its garishly colored, woven straps.

Against opportunistic neighbors, the lawn chair works with the same potency of garlic on vampires! How could something a fat person can collapse with ease, keep a motor vehicle out of a vacant spot? Because that's part of snow storm etiquette. If you're a civilized Human, you simply won't have the audacity to take over someone's hard work. Just won't. No civil person ever moves the lawn chair and steals a clean spot!

Being civil- it's the same reason the neighbors to the right and left of your house help you clear sidewalks. There's always one who doesn't hate shoveling as much as the rest of us. After they've finished their own, they keep going to meet you as you're toiling along. And, everyone does their best to take care of the elderly neighbor. Or the woman who lives alone. It's just how it's done when neighbors know and care about each other.

So, having lived with that mind-set, I wonder why many people in my neighborhood don't bother to clear their sidewalks. Do they think, "I'm certainly not walking in that mess and nobody who is sane will either,"? Perhaps. But, is it right to make anyone who may be on foot trod the street because the walk-way in front of your home isn't cleared? To do what's convenient or expedient at the inconvenience of others?

If the snow plow driver decided to clear every part of a street except the section directly in front of your house, you'd be really pissed! Seems to me that a homeowner opting to leave the snow on their sidewalk is sort of the same. True, it's your property and you can do exactly what you want with your stuff, but is it neighborly?

Dealing with snow is a butt-pain. It's often Herculean work. But, when we take on the task with the notion of courtesy and safety, it makes the effort worthwhile. Besides, your home owner's insurance is less likely to take a hit. Time to remember snow storm etiquette. Even if you are fortunate and don't need a lawn chair to secure your space!

Namaste' Till Next Time,

1 comment:

chrisk said...

This one cracked me up because I have not shoveled my sidewalk. The poor pizza man somehow made it through our iced over driveway right onto the non-shoveled sidewalk. We are dreadfully lazy about it and I promise to get on this soon. The real question is where are all the little neighbor kids looking to earn some $$??? Man, my brothers and I were out at the first drop of snow with our shovels. Come little ones, but not to little, to Kingsbrooke! My insurance policy is up to date, I think. = )

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