Some years ago, I boldly declared, “I will never own a snow-blower.” I reasoned that in the Smart home, we are manly men (and sometimes women), and we can darn well shovel our own snow. The morning of big snow storms, I would get the kids up early, assign them a shovel and challenge them to race our neighbors, who predicably for our neighborhood, rely on sissy machines, aka, snow-blowers to do their work. We were always proud when we could clear our driveway and walks faster than the neighbors with their mechanical equipment--well, at least I was always proud of this fact.
Now, we have all read how John Henry and his mighty hammer out-dueled the steam powered equipment of the Railroad Company (aka, The Man) and laid down railroad tracks with great speed in order to save the job of the working man. When I tried to emphasis this story as a point of pride to my children, they sharply pointed out that John Henry's efforts cost him his life, but more importantly, that they didn't want their working class jobs to be saved. "Buy the Snow-blower! Puuulease!" They pleaded. My response? “Pride has a price, and in this family, we are apparently willing to pay it!” Instead of a snow-blower, I invested in a number of very fine snow shovels over the years. Currently, there are about five of them in my garage--each one of them just waiting for an opportunity to shame our neighbors in a show of seasonal determination and grit.
Even Sheila in an act that can only be viewed as betrayal, would frequently side with her offspring by suggesting, “What do you think about a snow-blower for Christmas this year?” or “Do you think a snow-blower would be a good gift for your birthday this year?” In stubbornly rejecting all such suggestions, I mocked the very notion of such a wussy gift: “I most definitely do not need, nor want, a snow-blower. We have a number of quality snow shovels in the garage that would just go to waste if we were to purchase a snow-blower. Besides, the kids like to get up early and shovel the snow. They love to compete with the snow-blowers in the neighborhood.” Of course, I tried to say this when the kids were around, so they would understand what fun it is pit brawn against machine in manly test of strength and determination. They mostly just rolled their eyes and gave me looks that were not to difficult to decipher.
Now we have enjoyed a mild winter this year, that is until the first of February, when it dumped 0ver a foot of snow on Yakima in several days. I was ecstatic--I love the snow, especially, the first big storm of the year. Sheila? Well, she usually threatens to start looking for property in Tuscon whenever this happens. I just ignore her because as long as her grandchildren are in the Northwest, she’s not going anywhere. This last storm, however, tempered my enthusiasm for winter storms; and in particular, it caused me to rethink this whole John Henry versus the Machine macho attitude and my refusal to buy a snow-blower. Without my children/domestic yard slaves to assist with the job of snow removal, the whole John Henry challenge thing seemed pretty hollow, and frankly, just a lot of meaningless work. I’m pretty sure that everyone in the neighborhood was done with their driveways before me. After the third snowfall in three days, I told the Sheila, “I don’t think I’m going to actually shovel the snow today. It’s only a couple of inches deep. Instead, I think I’ll just dump a bunch of ice melt on the driveway and hope for a warm Chinook to blow in.” At which point, I escaped to the safer environs of my office, alleging that I was way too busy to shovel that morning. In reality, I was bordering on exhaustion. Needless to say, I was chagrined when I returned home and found that Sheila had shoveled the entire driveway and the walks. Ouch!
Without the muscle of my children/domestic yard slaves to push the snow around, I felt defeated. My manly decision to reject the generous offer of my caring wife to purchase me a snow-blower, in retrospect was obviously a very bad decision.