It’s that time of year and I know it because my back hurts already. If you live in a house or own a storefront business, chances are you are required by law to shovel the snow off your sidewalk. If you’re married like me, there’s a greater law known as The Law of the Wife.
The Law of the Land
In Boston, Massachusetts you are required to shovel your sidewalk within 3 hours of the snowfall ending or 3 hours after sunrise if it snowed overnight. They also require a 42 inch wide swath of cleaned off walkway. In Chicago you have 3 hours if it stops snowing before 4PM or until 10 AM the next morning if it snowed past 4. In Denver, Colorado you could be fined up to $999 and spend six months in jail for not shoveling. The Denver Planning Department said in a 2001 Denver Post story that they’ve never seen anyone serve time but they did have 35 people out looking for violations that year. Imagine how many sidewalks 35 people could have shoveled.
The Law of the Wife
If I don’t get out there and shovel first thing in the morning, she will and it makes me feel guilty. Not so guilty that I get up early and do it—I can take a lot of guilt—but it does get me out and shoveling eventually. My neighbor complains that before we moved in he never shoveled his sidewalk. This is not saying we’re pushy or setting too good of an example, it just shows what a lazy, lousy neighbor he was before we moved in.
The Tools of the Trade
Now there are snow shovels with angled handles that are easier on your back. Oh, your back will still hurt, but hopefully you won’t injure it. There are also numerous articles and TV news segments dedicated to showing you the right way to shovel: bend your knees, don’t throw the snow, carry it to the side, and don’t over-exert yourself. These same newscasts also report that many heart attacks occur while shoveling. I‘ve tried bringing these up to the wife—I even recorded one for her once—to no avail. There are also gas-powered snow blowers available. The best I’ve found is my whiskey powered snow blower, also known as my other neighbor who has a snow blower and does my sidewalks whenever I remember to pick him up a bottle of Scotch.
It’s the Right Thing to Do
We have a lot of kids who walk past our house on the way to school, folks walking their dogs, and others who may have no choice but to walk wherever they need to go. It’s not just the law but the neighborly thing to do to clean off your sidewalk. Besides, it’s one thing to get a ticket speeding or having too much fun at something you shouldn’t be doing, but who wants to get fines, or worse, go to jail for something you didn’t do?