For that matter, it's easier to shovel snow than render first aid to a neighbor or stranger.
Tam's recent observation on snow-shoveling (and those who don't) has prompted acrimonious debate, with sunshine-state para-Objectivists objecting, "City's sidewalk, City's to clear."
Nice notion, but A) the City doesn't agree and B) you don't really want it to; see, the City spins not, nor does it plow. Every dime the City has, they took from the pockets of you and your fellow inhabitants. By the time they'd've gathered up a Snow-Shoveller Corps, uniformed them, issued shovels, inspected them for disease and degree of imbecility, worked up a manual of arms for Shovel, Snow, Official, m. 2013, trained supervisors, hired a department head, etc. etc., my taxes would have gone way, way up -- and my street would be low on the priority tree to actually have our walks shoveled, count on it. They'd probably dutifully drop by every June, shovels on their shoulders, singing a happy snow-shoveler chanty, give the walks a quick look-see and mark us down as done for the year, as pleased as gandy-dancers encountering an already-straight section of rail.
"But," objectors might splutter, "the City is eeeeevil. They will fine you if you don't shovel their sidewalk." They can. They rarely do -- see, just as they haven't got a Snow-Shoveller Corps, they're a bit light on Shovelled-Walks Inspectors, too. The po-leece could go around writing tickets but even IMPD would be ashamed of collaring non-shovelers. The possibility of a -- oh, horrors -- ticket and fine doesn't prompt me to shovel my sidewalks.
Here's what does (and you will be shocked, shocked to learn my reasons mostly boil down to self-interest):
1. I want to be able to walk on my own land without slipping, falling, having shoes fill up with snow, etc. By the time I have cleared the house-to-garage walk, the back-door-to-front-door walk and the front-door-to-curb walk, the itty bit of across-the-frontage sidewalk is nothing.
2. I enjoy receiving mail and packages. The Post Office and the various commercial delivery concerns usually will not wade through snow with one's new fridge. Yes, yes, I'm sure you'll tell me they damned well ought to; but they won't and you can't make them, so....
3. I don't really care to touch strangers, nor listen to their wailing, nor see them bleed and thrash about. One can largely avoid the occasional necessity to render first aid to slippers and fallers by clearing and salting the sidewalk in front of one's home.
4. Similarly, it's purely inconvenient to be hauled into court by a slip-and-fall victim. I'd just as soon not give 'em the chance. Let them go elsewhere if they're minded to fall down and break something.
5. I want the neighbors to clear their walks so I can comfortably and safely walk to the store, various eateries, etc. It's considered rude to go threaten them -- plus I am not the boss of them anyway -- so shame (in the form of setting a good example) is about all that's left. I clear my walk and they see it, and perhaps think, "Oh, so that's the Done Thing, is it?" and clear theirs. (If the snow isn't much, or the neighbor does stuff for me, I might shovel their walk, too. Now you've got three houses with cleared walks and, as Arlo Guthrie tells us, people will think it's a Movement. Maybe they'll want to get in on it.) (And maybe they won't. I still win: I have at least three houses worth of cleared sidewalk to ease my peregrinations. Yes, ooo, ick, other people might walk on it. So what? I got what I wanted! How many dogs did you want to put in that manger?)
If you want to be an island, go live on an island (or the functional equivalent). If you like living in town, where there are things to do and places selling nice stuff to eat and art museums, bike shops and radio-parts stores and so on, with that comes living cheek-by-jowl with the other fonky primates. If you want to reduce the friction that comes with that, sometimes you've got to oil the gears. Sometimes you've got to shovel the sidewalks. Or hire someone to do it for you.
YANKEE RADIO TOOL KIT, #106
4 weeks ago