Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

I experienced the kindness of a stranger today -- a stranger driving a heavy-duty diesel snowplow.

Like most of us living in the upper midwest, I've spent a good portion of yesterday and today with a snow shovel in hand. The snow is the heavy, crusty variety that requires lifting instead of just pushing to the edges of the driveway, the kind of shoveling that leaves one with sore muscles and a feint despondency about the temporary nature of the work. The mail carrier drove by with spiked tires to handle our stll-unplowed steets, causing me to stop and wonder... why bother shoveling the snow when there's no way to go anywhere?

I was about half-way through clearing the driveway -- again -- when I noticed an unmarked white Ford F-350 with a dark red Western plow carving a path through the streets. The driver slowed in front of my driveway and called out, "Want me to pull the rest of this off for you?"

It was temping. There's always a certain amount of pride in finishing the driveway without pulling my wallet from my pocket, but since I'd already finished this job before -- a few times, actually -- I was willing to treat myself.

"How much?" I asked.

The man smiled and lifted his fingers slightly from the steering wheel. "No charge."

I thanked him profusely and immediately banked my shovel as he slipped his truck into gear. He was done in 3 passes and about 30 seconds, and before he left he introduced himself and said he lived in the other side of the neighborhood.

Maybe he's some sort of snow angel, or maybe just he's a guy who likes to use his 4X4 in the snow. Maybe both. I like to think he's a race fan, maybe one of the TrackForum regulars -- but hey, what are the odds. But as he headed down the street, I noticed his brake lights as he approached another of my shovel-weary neighbors. I probably can imagine their conversation being very similar to ours, as another driveway was cleared in another 3 quick passes.

Who knows how many neighbors that snow plow owner helped today.

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