lucrative snow shoveling
Wednesday, January 12 2011
As predicted, the snow came last night, eventually dumping somewhere between six and eight inches. As it was winding down, I dug a path down to my brownhouse. Given that neither Gretchen nor I have much reason to drive in January, paths to both the brownhouse and the woodshed are more important than a clear driveway.
Even in the deepest depths of winter, I continue using the outdoor facilities that the brownhouse provides. I recently changed out its hard plastic toilet seat with an old duct-tape-repaired padded one (which isn't as miserable to sit on). It can actually be fairly pleasant in the brownhouse at this time of year if it's late morning and the sun is shining, with indoor temperatures rising up into the 60s due entirely to passively-collected solar energy.
As I was shoveling my path, a youthful guy driving a plow-equipped pickup drove past, stopped, and got out and offered his plowing services. I'd been "afraid" of this happening (in the way I was "afraid" of shoeshiners in Istanbul), though usually when I see a private snowplow, I'm out near the road and I've nearly finished shoveling out the driveway. On this occasion I hadn't even begun. I told the guy no, that I was good, but he was insistent, saying that this was an awful lot of snow and that he'd do it for $30. But it really wasn't, and the snow hadn't even stopped. "It's not that much!" I insisted, this time with a trace of menace in my voice (I get that from my father). So he hopped in his truck and drove off.
It took me about a half hour to completely dig out the driveway, which, given the price quoted by the drive-by snowplow dude, valued my work at $60/hour. Hell, that's about what I get for web development! I wish my firewood labors were so lucrative.
Later I went to check the mailbox, and ended up facing the social obligation of talking to the across-the-road neighbor Toni (whose driveway meets the road adjacent to our mailbox). Aside from his lawn and security obsessions, he's a nice enough guy, but I usually try to time my mailbox missions to coincide with him not being either in his yard or driving out of it. Somehow I got that wrong today. He asked me what I've been working on lately (he meant why was I banging away so incessantly with a huge hammer). So I had to give him a crash course, not that he really wanted it, on the differences in the splittablities of various Eastern North American tree species.
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