Service of Snow

January 31st, 2011

Categories: Accommodation, Appreciation, Compassion, Good Samaritan, Help, Positive Thinking

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Snow’s been in the news: There’s far too much of it in and around New York–more expected–and not a flake in China where it’s needed to assuage a drought.

soupSnow brings income to folks working snowplows and shovels. Sanitation workers in city and country must be celebrating their overtime paychecks. Boot, sand and salt sales are soaring and I saw a growing line of 18 waiting for soup at Hale & Hearty in the basement of Grand Central. There were countless other  super food choices-great pizza, fabulous hot dogs and brisket sandwiches–but snow inspires hot soup cravings.

Meanwhile a client bemoans the weather’s affect on retail sales, restaurants are empty and timing couldn’t be worse for Restaurant Week in New York–through February 6-where participating eateries charge $24.07 and $35 for lunch and dinner, respectively. [Can’t figure out the reason for seven cents. Why not $20.11 and cut down portions?]

I buy newspapers from a man who sits on the sidewalk on Lexington Avenue and 44th Street. I asked him how he’s doing. The storms and frigid temperatures have severely affected his monthly take. He nevertheless smiled at me and wished me a good weekend. I’d like to bottle his spirit.

shovelGood Samaritans are busy: Snow seems to bring out the best in people. One helped us out of a bad spot and wouldn’t take anything but our heartfelt thanks. We park our car outdoors at a railroad station. Snowplows had piled over 20 inches of frozen stuff at the back of our car and there was another 30 inches in front. We were using our gloved hands and a foot-long brush with plastic ice chipper to clear the car windows when this angel jumped out of his car offering to shovel us out. Even with this help, it took a while to free the vehicle. Cat litter we’d purposely left in the trunk provided essential traction for our spinning wheels. There was ice under the snow. The Samaritan didn’t leave until the car was on a clear road and the remaining snow removal was viable with our limited equipment. He said, “I hope someone will help me one day when I need it,” and drove off.

In another instance, a friend asked me for gift ideas for her Dad’s neighbors, a family with three young children. Her Dad lives alone in a house on Long Island which has been severely and consistently hit by December and January’s mega storms. His neighbors have routinely cleaned his driveway with their snow blower and if they’ve hired someone with more powerful equipment, they send the plow over to his driveway and pay for the service. They never ask; they just do it.

Do you have any snow-related thoughts and tales to share?

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10 Responses to “Service of Snow”

  1. Catherine C Said:

    What nice anecdotes, Jeanne.

    It is such a mess out here [New Jersey]. You can’t see around the piles of snow at corners to make a safe turn. The professional snowplowers are gouging and not even doing a good job. I just want it to be spring already!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Catherine,

    Just this morning I complained about the huge mounds of snow that cause us to ooze out onto one road from another to check for oncoming cars. It’s heart in throat time!

    My husband pointed out that even upstate, where they are used to snow, there are no more places to put it all. True, but I think that the plow crews are thinking SUV height, and forget about those of us with standard height sedans! Spread it out and move it down the road a schosh at corners at least, is my suggestion.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Snow stinks. It slows everything up, causes accidents, many of them fatal, totals cars, and is an all around nuisance. If I didn’t dislike or mistrust southerners so much, consider Florida a gigantic old folks factory, fraught with hurricanes, sharks, alligators and sand pits, I’d be long gone!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Florida doesn’t call to me either, for the same reasons: I never liked a place, whether a hotel or a community, that didn’t have a nice mix of ages and hurricanes are destructive and scary. My aunt-in-law’s cat was eaten by an alligator on her back lawn in Fla. Plus some of the nicest beaches are spoiled by countless huge apartment houses and hotels.

    I’ve heard that Arizona is nice in winter…and very hot in summer. I’ve been there in September when the temp. reached 105. Inside the hotel if it was 60 we were lucky. Such extremes!

    I love NY and hope that next winter will be better. Cold without snow is fine with me! I just wear an extra layer.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    Lucky it was only the poor cat the alligator made off with. Could have been the aunt in law, friend, or family member. How anyone can consider living within miles of these creatures, boggles the imagination! I like watching them on the National Geographic channel. They look so pleasant. It’s scary to imagine why!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Guess you like big smiles…as few are bigger than an alligator’s!

    I wondered about what looked like a canal that cut through the back yards of the garden apartments in this development. Folks sat outside and didn’t seem to worry. To this New Yorker it was a head-scratcher, though the Floridians might think I’m nuts to take a subway at night.

  7. Horace Peabody Said:

    Jeanne,

    Just think of how helpful snow is to the unemployment problem!

    The jobless can shovel snow either as good Samaritans, and receive their reward in the ever after, or as Philistines, join the New York City garbage collectors union, shovel snow, get paid triple time while being lazy and not collecting garbage.

    Your cynical New Yorker,

    Horrey

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Dear Cynical, I mean Horrey,

    Nice idea about the jobless, but they must have strong backs, insurance no doubt i.e. “YOU SCRATCHED MY CAR WITH THAT SHOVEL,” own a shovel….so that your idea, just like the promise for employing science and math majors, only benefits some unemployed people through spring.

    Further, there are mounds of garbage waiting to be picked up over 5 foot 6-inches high [taller than I am.] And an alarming amount of snow lining residential streets that is turning to lumps of ice. I don’t think a shoulder and shovel can begin to fix the mess.

  9. Lucille Grippo Said:

    My favorite good Samaritan story is when family, traveling from snow battered Connecticut, got a flat tire less than 1 mile from our exit. They had our 2 year old niece with them and vehicle emergency service that they paid for told them it would be “awhile” before they could get there to help. Tons of motorists drove by but one with family in tow on the way to a formal event got off the highway and literally double backed (getting on and off the highway in both directions) to help change the tire in dress clothes and snow without another thought. Clearly he was now late and dirty but also being from Connecticut he simply told them don’t thank me just pay it forward. When they asked his name he just said call me Kris Kringle.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucille,

    Here’s to Kris Kringle! What a doll.

    I knew that there would be a happy ending here because of your first few words. I wonder how many were afraid to stop because they mistrusted the scene, as innocent as it was, afraid they might be held up and that this was a trap. I am ashamed to write this, but I can’t think of any other explanation [other than passers by who didn’t know how to change a tire or that they didn’t have the strength to turn the bolts on a tire].

    As for the company they pay to rescue them in such instances, one, bit BOOO.

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