Saturday, December 29, 2018
Benefit of the Doubt
Readers and Neighbors:
Last night it snowed for a long time. But oddly, towards morning, the temperatures warmed a little. The snow turned to rain. And so by the time I went for a mid morning walk in my neighborhood much of the city was wallowing in two or three inches of pure, icy slush. It was extremely unpleasant to walk in. In fact, one couldn't exactly walk in it, it was more like stepping, or picking ones way through.
So that's what I did. And instead of ruminating on high things, you know, like birds or, er, the top parts of trees, as is my nature on leisurely walks, I ruminated unavoidably on the condition of the sidewalks. Many of them were in very bad shape for walking, but a few had been shoveled clear and were quite passable.
I judged. I identified the guilty. And I handed out dispensations and condemnations.
The area where I walked today has apartment buildings, a few modest houses, and many really huge and fancy houses in shiny condition. Only the main streets had been plowed and I was forced to the sidewalks. But the streets revealed the first sinners: Public Works, also known as the city. They also got the first, tentative dispensation. Though guilty, I could forgive them for awhile because the snow falls everywhere at once and it takes time to get to everything. I was willing to give them a morning pass at least.
I was not, however, willing to give any sort of pass to the Apartment sidewalks. As a renter, after all, isn't that something I'm paying for? Isn't the ratio of renters to sidewalk incredible high? I doubt there could be more than five or ten feet of sidewalk per renting apartment where I live. I'm disinclined to give businesses, the most likely in our capitalist culture to lack any humanity, any allowances. Their cost in doing this right is small and they will take allowances here strictly as exploitable weaknesses rather than understanding gifts. However, and this is important, the apartment buildings, including mine, had been almost entirely shoveled and were the best places to walk of my whole journey.
Which brings us to the other end of the spectrum, the more humble houses. There were not a lot of these along my way, and they ran about fifty-fifty, some shoveled, some not. I did not want to forgive those which let me down, but I understand it's hard to work, and deal with the holidays, and get up early enough to shovel. Plus it was an odd snow, hard to make sense of, and we'll just hope these people who can't really afford to pay anyone to do it for them will manage to get their act together for the next snow.
Which brings us to the final and greatest offenders, the opulent houses, those all well cared for, full of brick and paved stone drives, many with half a dozen bathrooms, one with a tennis court, many sporting high up river views. All these pretty, million dollar houses were, but for a scarce few exceptions, not shoveled at all.
This, I'm afraid, is unforgivable. Every one of these houses shows signs of work from the last five years that had to have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. More than one place I passed is adding some monumental wall, or a seventh bedroom at a level of style that surely costs more than the whole house my wife and I just sold. These homeowners have every tool at their disposal to clear their sidewalks, from shovels made out of diamonds, to drivable sidewalk snowblowers stored in their own beautiful, heated brick sheds, all the way to simply paying some company an amount of money they could hardly miss from their lavish budgets to keep their sidewalks in ever perfect condition.
To those millionaire homeowners I offer no dispensation, but, if you are one of them, you will see that I did wrap this note around a brick and throw it through your front window.
Happy New Year,