Tales from shoveling snow
People in the Northeast have a bit of a reputation for being…a little bit crabby. When you’re walking down the street, people aren’t going to smile and make eye contact. Standing in line at the grocery store (and that is IN line, not ON line as silly New Yorkers might say) and no one is going to make small talk with you. Walk across the street in front of a cab and you will be honked at. HOWEVER. The one time neighbors in New England go out of their way to speak with one another? When they are shoveling snow.
Shoveling snow! There has to be an entire anthropological look at this practice. It snows. Then, as if an internal bell rings, people start emerging from their houses to shovel their sidewalks and driveways. How do they all know when it’s time? Josh and I usually just wait until we see the others. But how does the first person know?
For the actual shoveling, neighbors help neighbors! Those lucky enough to have a snowblower apparently get so excited about the technological advancement that they remove much more than their fair share of snow. People walk down the street with shovels on their way to help other friends. And everyone talks!
We live next to an old man named Jim. We’ve been in this apartment almost 3 years. He’s lived in the house next door, as he puts it, “since before the trees.” Jim doesn’t say much, but he does grill a mean burger on Memorial Day. Now, of course, Jim was affronted by the fact that pedestrians had walked on the bottom layer of snow, making it more difficult to pry off the sidewalk. Walking on the sidewalk! Whoever heard! So he told us what a problem this was, then loaned us his scraping tool so we could clear our sidewalk properly. (Note. Josh, myself, and the upstairs neighbor were all shoveling and I’m pretty sure Jim considers our work sub par. When I say “loaned” I mean Jim basically placed it in our hands and told us we needed to use it.)
Speaking of the upstairs neighbor. He’s as quiet as a mouse! We never see him! But it snows, and there he is. Doing his part as a member of the house. I realized two things. 1) Upstairs neighbor feels the same way we do about 1st floor neighbor. 2) Using the word “y’all” while shoveling snow is strange to some people.
But it’s great here! There is so much snow and everyone is super excited to talk about it. And by super excited, I mean slightly disgruntled because that’s the way excitement is expressed here.