There was a little girl who brought her little girl to piano lessons, thrice a week, or was it twice? They lived in a wintry white town, weighted down with more and more snow each day, in the past week. This girl drove a red pickup, and, each appointed night at 7:00, she would pull up to the curb, bring her child to the door of the house, then sit and smoke in her truck while waiting. At first, she did not notice the old man across the street, being concerned with her phone and cigarettes. When she did look up, to flick a butt out her window, she saw that he was doggedly trying to start his snow blower in the dimly lit garage. She grinned a little, to herself, and went back to Candy Crush. Ten more minutes went by before she knew it, and she saw that he had ceased his labors. He stood, shoulders slumped, with one foot up on a stack of old tires. She thought he was crying, but he was only catching his breath. When her little girl came out the front door, she took her and strapped her into the car seat. By the time they made ready to go, she stole one more glance at the old man. He hadn’t given up yet, and was starting to shovel a pathway by hand through the foot deep drifts. Shaking her head, she thought “crazy old fool, he’s gonna kill himself. You hear about it all the time.”
The old man was confounded. Why wouldn’t it start? There was fresh gasoline (super), antifreeze, and a new spark plug. Try as he might, no use. He knew it wasn’t flooded, ’cause he’d only primed it a couple of times. He’s used to seeing cars pull up across the street, but he doesn’t take too kindly to being stared at, and especially to being laughed at. He takes her grin to be a mocking one, and, coupled with her greenish hair, nose ring, and neck tattoo, she fits his idea of a young punk. hmph, or something like that, he thinks. After catching his breath from pulling at that blasted starter (he counted 49 times), he got out his shovel and looked doubtfully down his drifted driveway. Well, there was nothing for it. He would clear at a least a small pathway before his daughter got home.
Two nights later, and there was the girl again. And there he was again, with his red plastic shovel. She watched him take scoops out of the white drifts, then pause for a few moments, leaning on the shovel. As he attacked the snow for a third time, she got out of her truck.
Oh no. Is she actually gonna talk to me? he thought. And she came, still puffing her smoke. “Still can’t start your blower, huh? What else you got in your garage there?” “I’ve just got me this shovel, is all.” “Okay, but what’s that I see back there? Isn’t that one of those big scoops you push along?” “Yeah, I can’t push it”. “Let me try”.
And in the time it took to light up two more smokes, she had it done. “Hey, can’t you get someone to fix that blower?” says she. “My cheque don’t come ’til the end of the month.” says he. “Well, mister, my boyfriend’s a mechanic and he runs a snow plow too. He’ll come and fix it, never mind. And on the real bad days, I’m tellin’ him to come do your drive.”
And so, in the dark sparkles, Erica puts her two hands on his shoulders, turns him around, gives him a pat on the behind, and says “Now you can go have a cuppa tea.”
He turns back to her, wipes his tears, and says “You come too. And bring the little girl.”