The Well-Tempered Snowe-Shovelle
The trash, weirdly enough, takes care of itself. Whenever I have a roommate and we share chores, we have to keep a very strict schedule, because I seem to take care of my own chores two hours after my roommates' snapping point. In Kansas City I came home time and again to find the bathroom pre-scrubbed, or the dishes drying sullenly in a little stack, and I could do nothing but cry out, "But that's my job! I had until Sunday at midnight!"
That's what it's been like on the trash front here. I have to get the trash out by around 8 in the morning, but several people along our block put it out shortly after 6 pm the previous evening. One of our tenants must agree with this way of doing things, because in the month that I have been here (which means 12 opportunities to execute trash duty), I have only had to put it out twice. Someone always gets there ahead of me. It's almost frustrating: what's the point of remembering something if I do my best and it barely even matters that I did?
So that leaves shoveling, which I've been confident no one else would do. And during my whole tenure here, I've been on eager tenterhooks, looking at the sky ("Was that a snowflake? Is it an inch yet?"*), waiting for my chance. But it has scarcely snowed at all this entire season, and I was afraid that this, too, would wind up on my list of Things I Wanted To Do But Lacked Opportunity or Timely Gumption.
Not any more! It actually snowed last night--snowed hard, well over an inch--for the first time in all of winter, and I knew that this, at last, was my opportunity! So I struck out this morning--if it stops snowing overnight you have until 11 to shovel--and discovered that it was no longer snow. It was slush. But goddammit, it was still an inch think. I determined that I would, in fact, shovel that sumbitch so thoroughly that the snow itself would think, "Who was that hard-working man, so swift and relentless, so masculine and yet so tender?"
And then an odd thought struck me: I actually don't know how to shovel. It's the one chore that I, as a child of the desert-and-then-Florida, have never needed to learn. (I lived in Kansas City, too, but never as a homeowner. Snow was just something that made going to work more annoying.) It looks like the easiest damn thing in the world, but as soon as I hoisted my first shovelful, I thought, "Wait a minute. Where do I put this?"
In comic strips--which are really my only frame of reference for this--the shovelers are generally kids bundled up like Michelinettes, and they hurl the snow in a graceful overhead arc so that it forms a wall of whiteness on either side of their path, the Red Sea to the child's Moses. But I have neighbors. Surely that would be rude. So what else? Move it around like a kid not eating her vegetables? Catapult it to the sky and hope it doesn't come down? Keep the whole thing in a Snow Box and leave it under the doormat for the elves to take?
It was soon obvious that I had to push it into the street, but I felt bad there, too, because there are cars parked out front, and I know I'd hate to have my own car besnowed by some industrious shovelmonger. Fortunately, it really was slush at this time, and once I pushed it past the curb, it slouched helplessly below hubcap level, which no one could possibly object to. I realize it may sound dumb, but I really did have to give this whole procedure a little thought, which was way more thought than I was expecting to exercise.
But I wasn't done. Flush with victory, I decided to ply the shovel on the steps as well, which you can see in the picture (and you can see a few spots I missed). I'm a good landlord!, I thought. A rugged man of the outdoors under certain limited conditions! Then, warming to my task, I even shoveled the side area in front of the trash cans. But I didn't finish the job. A cop stopped me and asked me to please stop. Apparently, women were swooning and it was interfering with traffic. So I let it go, but have taken this picture as proof that I actually did my job. Now I'm going to go stalk a deer and beat it to death with my bare hands. Unless, of course, it's still cold out.
* (That's what she said. And then I cried.)