Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Lesson Learned

Early this morning, the snow began to fall. Gently at first, then with increasing insistence, the sky dispatched snowflakes, the better to cover our New England landscape with a picturesque coating of wintry confection that seemed almost …

Ah, heck, never mind. The weather forecast was for snow; it snowed.

The school district in which I teach called off school for the day – wisely. The roads upon which I travel to school utilize the concept of up, down and curvy in such a way that, well, roads plus an inch and a half of “packed powder” equals BOBSLED RUN!! And, while my relatively new car seems to do relatively well in snow, the wisdom of the decision seemed clear. I’m sure that I will enjoy the extra day of school tacked onto the schedule in June, too.

Okay, maybe.

Anyway, I dutifully leapt outside and shoveled away at the driveway around lunchtime, after the snow had largely quit falling. I did this with a sense of purpose. Adrenaline flowed. Not merely because I wanted to get back inside and resume my pose upon the couch … but because of what I managed to do during one of the last large snowfalls to hit central Massachusetts.

That one occurred on the Thursday after Christmas. The snow fell; I was off for the week; therefore I lacked any snow removal urge. “I’ll get it tomorrow … I prefer to park it inside and study the insides of my eyelids, or the computer screen, or whatever else strikes me.”

Problem with that was, the snow was heavy and wet, and while only three inches fell on the ground in general, another few inches were plowed onto the end of my driveway … and the next day, the temperature dropped like a stone and turned the heavy/wet snow into meteorological concrete. Neither of my trusty shovels were getting any upper hand at all on the stuff. It had gotten to the point where I couldn’t force my car through or over any of it. For the next two weeks – up until a couple of days ago, in fact – I rejoined the ranks of on-street car parkers.

By itself, it would be a mild pill to swallow. As I discovered when I lived in Boston a few years ago, driveways ought to be recognized for the luxury items they are. More than once, I had to dig my car out from under snow that had basically buried it as a result of plows doing their jobs in the big city. So, okay, we suck it up.

But yesterday, I arrived home from school to find a rather large pile of mail – which explained why I hadn’t gotten any mail for the previous few days. And on every one of those pieces of mail was hand-written some variation of “ice and snow on walk”.

Part of that is because my front gutter seems insistent upon releasing water not at the corner of my house, where the downspout lives, but directly onto the center of my front step. I routinely figure out clever paths to use in order to reach my driveway without falling and cracking my head and tend to think nothing of it.

Part of that, though, is because on that Thursday after Christmas, I hadn’t cleared the walk, and therefore, it was not cleared. (Do pause to admire that last sentence.) And, wisely, my faithful mailman had probably attempted to walk that gauntlet a couple of times and then threw up his hands (hopefully not full of mail) and said, “heck with that.”

Which would be quite right.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to learn this lesson by receiving “time-sensitive” mail too late. My check for a million was not one of those letters. A kind letter from a former employer was … and so was a tiny care package from my mother, although luckily it didn’t include cookies that could have spoiled, so humanity dodged a bullet there.

But nonetheless, what if it was an important summons? What if I’d missed mail that I needed to reply to immediately, like, right this very moment, and because of a selfish shoveling decision, I’d missed a deadline or otherwise screwed something up?

So, in this semi-public space – which my mailman probably has no time to try and find – I would like to humbly apologize to said mailman. Or mail person, although I’ve been home occasionally when he’s delivered items to me and he is in fact him. (Don’t pause to admire that sentence, though.)

In this era of threatening to close post offices for the alleged cost savings … and in this era of unionized workers being, shall we say, put upon … and in this era of increasingly stupid weather thanks (at least in part) to increasingly stupid energy policy decisions … this is no time to be putting post office workers through any more stupidity than they already deal with. No jokes about going postal, either. If my mailman slips on my front walk and hurts himself, he’ll be able to draw workers’ compensation … or will he? Is his job going to be more and more like pro athletes’, in this way: if he goes down with an injury, is there a chance he won’t get his job back when he’s healed again?

So, from one human being to another: sorry. My laziness and thoughtlessness caused you to make a safety-related decision that was just as wise as my school district’s decision to close school today. I hope you do try to deliver the mail today, even through the awful conditions… because that driveway and front walk is bone dry.

I mean, I know: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” But no need to make it worse.

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January 16, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , ,

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