Friday, February 12, 2016

Snow Shovel Etiquette

It's February. Winter. Yes, spring is on its way, but despite what the groundhog or any other earthbound rodent has said, we can't be sure when exactly it will arrive. In the meantime, we're stuck looking at the 10-day forecasts, wondering if we'll be getting any more snow.

We've had a pretty large amount of snow already this winter. (Especially compared to last winter, when the temperature was over 60 degrees for most of February.) I've had to get the snow shovels out several times. (Yes, I said shovels. If you get any decent amount of snow, it's best to have at least two shovels, one that will push the snow, and one that will scoop the snow if it is particularly heavy.)

Shoveling snow is soooo much fun!
As I've been out shoveling, I've learned a few of the dos and don'ts of snow shoveling etiquette. I thought I'd pass some of that along today.

1. Make sure you get your sidewalk. (Especially if school kids need to use it!) The first thing we usually do when shoveling is make sure we get our driveway, so we can get our car in and out of the garage. But, oftentimes we forget about the sidewalks. I made this mistake during one of our storms this winter, and it meant that the school kids heading to the bus stop had to either tromp through the six inches of new snow on the sidewalk, or walk out in the street where the snowplows had been. Not good. Even though it can be a lot of work, those kids need a safe, snow-free path to walk that isn't out in the middle of the road.

2. If you are younger and/or healthier than your neighbor, help them with their snow occasionally. I'm not saying you need to be the complete snow-removal force for every house in your neighborhood. But, it is nice to lend someone a hand every now and then. There's nothing quite like the feeling of going out to shovel snow to find that someone else has already done all or part of it for you. (One time this winter I was pleasantly surprised to find that the "snow shovel elves" had shoveled my driveway for me!)

3. If someone helps you with your snow removal, be sure to thank them. I live in a great neighborhood where lots of people jump in to help each other out. It's always best to be polite and say "thank you" and "you're welcome." (Didn't your mama teach you anything?)

D. Don't expect people to help you. It's great when neighbors help each other, but at the end of the day you are responsible for your own driveway and sidewalks. This is the mistake I made a few weeks ago. I had a neighbor who had been clearing off my sidewalk with his four-wheeler with a plow blade. On that particular day, when I finished with my driveway I was pretty tired, and I thought, "Well, he'll probably get the sidewalk for me again." He didn't. Whose fault is that, his or mine? Obviously, it's mine. Just because he helped me once certainly doesn't obligate him to help me every time. My sidewalk is still my responsibility.

5. Don't be an ungrateful jerk. There's a guy in my friend's neighborhood who uses his four-wheeler plow to clear the snow from all the houses nearby. Until, that is, one of the neighbors called the police on him. Apparently, the one ungrateful jerk didn't approve of how four-wheeler dude was piling the snow, so he called the police to report "unauthorized snow removal." The police weren't too concerned, but were obligated to talk to four-wheeler dude. The actions of one ungrateful jerk could have made it much more difficult to remove snow for everyone in the neighborhood. Fortunately, four-wheeler dude is a nice dude, and he continues to remove the snow for all the houses in the neighborhood. Except one.

Really, it all comes down to just being polite, taking care of our own responsibilities, and doing what we can to help out each other. (Heck, that's good advice for all situations, not just snow shoveling!)

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