My phone rings around 2 p.m. on a recent Sunday. On the line is a flabbergasted Michelle standing next to her immobile automobile surrounded on all sides by nearly two feet of snow. She’s gasping for air, telling me that she’s barely made a dent in removing the powder from her car’s roof. “I’ll be right there,” I said, taking the hint.
Lacing up my hiking boots and grabbing my trusty shovel, I head to the unplowed, narrow lot, sandwiched between two buildings where my friend’s car and probably 30 others are parked. The warning immediately came from a polite resident whose car was situated next to Michelle’s: there’s a neighborhood bulldog who’s been barking at people for where they’re placing their snow, so try tossing it against one of the building’s walls. Michelle also admits to seeing the woman, who has also been organizing some sort of neighborhood coalition to get the lot plowed ASAP. This woman, Michelle says, is a tiny thing, probably around 50, and scares her. Not an easy task, since it doesn’t seem like anything scares Michelle.
I begin the Big Dig. Using nearly every muscle group, I rhythmically scoop up and toss the white stuff away from Michelle’s car and as close to the nearest wall as possible. I’m enjoying the brisk breeze and sunshine, as well as helping out one of my favorite people.
Fifteen minutes in, the beauty of the day is shattered by the shrills of a raving lunatic, who’s a few yards away from me:
(Pardon my dramatics, but the following is capped purposefully)
“YA KNOW, IT’S PEOPLE LIKE YOU THAT ARE DOING A DISSERVICE TO EVERYONE IN THIS LOT! YOU JUST KEEP TOSSING YOUR SNOW ANYWHERE YOU WANT WITHOUT ANY REGARD FOR THE REST OF US. SO DISRESPECTFUL!”
“I’m sorry–who are you?” I ask delicately, as I look at this small woman with a blue headband that’s pushing her Medusa-like hair to the heavens. The snarl on her face contributes to the crazy appearance.
“I OWN THIS BUILDING! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TOSSING YOUR SNOW ALONG THE PATH WHERE CARS ARE ENTERING THE LOT! WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS MORALLY IRRESPONSIBLE!”
I look at the mounds of snow that fill this apparent “path,” the majority of its peaks not my creation. Were the others who contributed to the mounds also charged with moral violations? I never knew there was a moral or immoral way of shoveling snow. I may need to consult the Bible for guidance. But I digress. Here was my response:
“Lady, I’m not done doing my job. Give me a minute to dig out my friend’s car, and I’ll place the snow against the wall.”
“IT DOESN’T GO AGAINST THE WALL!”
My blood is now boiling faster than a pot of water on high heat. I’m typically very mild mannered, but at this point, I’m beyond keeping pleasant. I stoop to her level of lunacy:
“IF IT DOESN’T GO AGAINST THE WALL, WHERE SHOULD I PUT IT?! THERE’S ONLY A FEW INCHES OF SPACE BEHIND MY FRIEND’S CAR! I CAN’T PUT IT THERE! WE’RE TALKING ABOUT TWO FEET OF SNOW, LADY!”
She didn’t like that response. “YOU KNOW SOMETHING? YOU ARE THE BIGGEST A****** I’VE EVER MET! HEY EVERYBODY, GET OUT YOUR CAMERAS AND TAKE A PHOTO OF THIS A****** AND PLACE IT ON TWITTER!”
“YOU DON”T EVEN KNOW ME, LADY!” (I make one of those laughs that sound like you’re going insane, which I was.) “HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN LIVING HERE?”
“I’VE BEEN LIVING HERE MOST OF MY LIFE!”
“YEAH, I THOUGHT SO. I THINK IT’S TIME TO RELOCATE. YOU HAVE SOME SERIOUS ISSUES IF SNOW GETS YOU THIS UPSET.”
Not my finest or most memorable moment of my life, I’ll admit. But there’s a point to this story: Don’t sweat the small stuff. In a week’s time, a plow probably came through and maneuvered a mound of snow next to the wall in question, and Ms. Busy Body would have had no control over it. Should I have stooped to her level and emotionally released in the way that I did? Probably not, but sometimes anger is justified. And sometimes–you just need to let it go. Fifteen minutes after the blowout, Michelle and I were laughing about the interaction. What did Crazy Lady do? Looked our way, and growled.
THE ETERNAL OPTIMIST