December 05, 2024

Psycho shovelers and other Twin Cities species


If you leave for work at the same time almost every day and, instead of jumping in to your car, walk down the street to a particular bus corner, you become familiar with a cast of minor characters that go about their banal routines before you to the soundtrack in your iPod. There's the teenage 'punks' smoking in the bus shelter outside the private high shool, the young businessman whose always running to the bus, half-dressed with flecks of shaving cream still on his neck, an assortment of cute kids.

Almost every day I pass a man, late 70s I'd guess, shuffling down my block. He stops at the building before mine and checks the garage door, and he pauses outside of mine and peers inside the windows from the sidewalk. He's just a busybody, I assume, checking out the hood on his way down to SuperAmerica for a donut and coffee, and I want to go up to him and tell him that I'm a caretaker here and all's well with my little parcel of Uptown.

But today I saw him further down the block, sweeping last night's dusting of snow from outside a co-op. Ah! Part of this banal mystery for me has been explained!

Really, though--this isn't about an old man shoveling outside a co-op inhabited by twenty-something, well-heelers reshaping my neighborhood. Instead, it's that other patch of shoveled sidewalk the old man is shoveling up to. My neighbor--the man responsible for the intervening patch of sidewalk--is a psycho shoveler. If I wasn't in such a hibernating mood this time of year I might never know. But sitting beside this window all day affords me a front-row seat for my neighbor's constant grooming of snow-covered concrete. Now in Minneapolis you have to shovel your own sidewalks, of course, but there are rules--I have four daytime hours and my homeowning OCD shoveler has a full twenty-four hours after the snow stops to get out there and clear the path for old ladies with bad hips. But this guy is obsessed with it. Saturday saw constant snowfall--about two inches by late afternoon. I saw my neighbor out at least four times--sweeping. Sweeping sweeping sweeping and sweeping off his SUV even though he didn't go anywhere in it. He sweeps perfectly, cleanly, squarely, past the line of his property, down the sidewalk past the vacant house, right up to where my domain begins. And there he stops--and that line, the line that divides his perfectly-groomed path from my snow-covered death trap of camouflaged ice patches really irks me. I do an okay job, and when I get lazy I just throw tons of rock salt at the problem and so far narry a fall, from what I can tell. Perhaps I should just hire the old man.

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Posted by jason at December 5, 2024 08:19 AM

A comment by a southerner:

If he's sweeping, sweeping the snow, then doesn't that probably mean that he doesn't want to shovel, shovel it? I mean, sweeping is easier than shoveling, right? And there comes a point fairly early in a snowfall when the snow gets too deep to sweep away. So if you sweep before that point, you don't have to shovel. Plus, if you sweep the snow off your car quickly as it falls, it won't end up frozen to every glass surface and you won't have to spend a half hour scraping it off the next morning.

Doesn't seem psycho to me.

Posted by: glen at December 5, 2024 04:04 PM
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