“I’m Andrew. I live in the gray house,” he said, waving a snow shovel toward the end of the block. “Would you like me to shovel your sidewalk?”
It was a typical first autumn snowfall -- an inch of slush that would all be melted in 45 minutes.
I fully intended to let it melt.
“That’s awfully nice of you, Andrew, but I think …”
“No,” he interrupted. “I don’t mind! I kind of like to shovel!”
“Well, if you really don’t mind …” I said.
“I don’t!” he said, jumping off the stoop. “Thanks!”
I closed the door to the sound of a plastic blade furiously scraping the sidewalk. Must be one of those “good deeds” they encourage Cub Scouts to do, I thought.
Five minutes later there was a knock at the door. His stocking cap was cock-eyed, his coat was unzipped and his cheeks were rosy from exertion.
“Done!” he said, gesturing at the sidewalk; it was wet, but slush-free.
“It looks great, Andrew. Thank you!”
“I can shovel your sidewalk all winter if you want,” he said.
I smiled at his enthusiasm: “That could be a lot of shoveling!”
“That’s OK,” he said. “I like to shovel!”
“And I don’t!” I said. “Maybe you can be my ‘designated shoveler’.”
He squinted at the walk he’d just cleared. “Oh, I missed some!” He jumped off the step and touched up a spot that didn’t need touching up.
“There!” he said, climbing back onto the stoop.
“Perfect!” I said. “You did a really nice job!”
He adjusted the stocking cap, shuffled his feet and tugged the mitten off his right hand. The silence was getting awkward.
“Well, thanks again,” I said.
“Yeah,” he said. “I kind of like shoveling ... “
Ahhhh! Sometimes old Dan can be a little slow on the uptake.
“Can I pay you something for shoveling?” I asked.
His face brightened as if he hadn’t given the subject much thought. Andrew, you are one wily entrepreneur.
I pulled the wallet out of my hip pocket. “How much?”
“Ummm … twenty five dollars?” he said.
In hindsight we probably should have agreed on a price beforehand. Maybe written up a contract and had it notarized …
I looked into the wallet. A $20 and a $5.
“How about five dollars?” I said.
Two weeks later we got 13 inches of snow. The heavy, wet stuff. I kept waiting for Andrew to knock on my door, but he never did. In fact, I didn’t see him again until the next spring.
It took me two hours to clear 13 inches of snow, but it was Andrew’s loss; I was willing to go $7.50 for anything over a foot.
Dan Conradt, a lifelong Mower County resident, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson.