"I suppose a case could be made that snow shoveling is not a sign of virtue. That a man is not morally worthy simply because he cleans the entire sidewalk, edge to edge, as opposed to scooping a single shovel-width lane."By this standard I admit to a lack of virtue. Given my advancing age, when I totter outside to clear the 5.4" of snow from my sidewalk, and the cluster's sidewalks out to the mail boxes, I count it a clear victory if I've beaten any of my neighbors. I used to have a neighbor, whom we called "Juan the Manic", who was stiff competition. He lived up to von Drehle's standards, clearing all 48" of the sidewalk, leaving not a snowflake behind. Me, I was satisfied just to clear the width of my shovel. "Clear", that is, meaning getting close enough to concrete that the sun and rising temperatures could take over the job of removing the rest of the snow. (That's known as "good enough for government work".) What I lacked in perfection I made up for in length of path cleared. I don't know where Juan is now, but he sold close to the peak of the housing boom. I hope he didn't over-extend. I miss him, miss the competition.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
On Snow Shoveling, Virture and Competition
Joel Achenbach is one of the Post's better writers, specializing in science and humor. In this post though he excerpts from another of the Post's writers, David Von Drehle, on snow shoveling (after tweaking Obama about snow and schools). It begins: