the snow shovelers


Our front doorbell just rang while I was busy on my computer. Somewhat annoyed, since it was the umpteenth time today (lots of Christmas deliveries), I trundled downstairs and answered the door. Saw no one on the doorstep.

Within a second or two, two boys were in front of my stoop. Nice looking boys with cherubic faces. About age eleven, I would guess. Snow shovels in hand. A few inches of snow had just fallen.

Without giving them a chance to speak, figuring I didn’t want to waste their time, I told them, peremptorily (and recalling a few times when we have gotten ripped off in the past by boys we agreed to let shovel our driveway), “No, thanks. Don’t need shoveling.”

They politely left.

I was thinking about how, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when I was about the same age, my friends and I used to go around knocking on doors asking to shovel people’s front porches and walks. What a golden opportunity a snowstorm presented to make pocket money. Fifty cents to shovel their front steps and walk. A whole two dollars sometimes for a driveway.

I ran upstairs to tell our tenant about the cute kids I had just seen. My wife wasn’t home; I couldn’t tell her.

“No, she [our tenant] won’t care,” I thought.

What to do with my good holiday feelings? Let them shovel our walk!

I ran downstairs to see if the boys were still around. No one in sight. I shouted as loud as I could, “Boys! Snow shoveling!” They reappeared.

“How much to shovel our stoop and walk?” I asked. They didn’t have a figure in mind.

“Would five dollars be all right?” I asked. They nodded yes.

A few minutes later, my bell rang again. The boys were standing there, wishing to discuss some “technicalities” regarding ice (or something of that sort) on the sidewalk. Handsome lads with ruddy faces, one with a parti-colored knit cap. Obviously wanting to do a good job. Impressive conscientiousness.

“Looks like you did a good job,” I told them. “Here’s two more dollars.”

I asked them what school they attended, and they told me they were both in the sixth grade.

I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas Day. When he asks a boy whom he espies through his upstairs window to buy a prize turkey for the family of his clark.


— Roger W. Smith

  December 15, 2017



‘It’s Christmas Day!’ said Scrooge to himself. ‘I haven’t missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like. Of course they can. Of course they can. Hallo, my fine fellow!’

‘Hallo!’ returned the boy.

‘Do you know the Poulterer’s, in the next street but one, at the corner?’ Scrooge inquired.

‘I should hope I did,’ replied the lad.

‘An intelligent boy!’ said Scrooge. ‘A remarkable boy! Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there? — Not the little prize Turkey: the big one?’

‘What, the one as big as me?’ returned the boy.

‘What a delightful boy!’ said Scrooge. ‘It’s a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck!’

‘It’s hanging there now,’ replied the boy.

‘Is it?’ said Scrooge. ‘Go and buy it.’

‘Walk-er!’ exclaimed the boy.

‘No, no,’ said Scrooge, ‘I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell them to bring it here, that I may give them the direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and I’ll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than five minutes and I’ll give you half-a-crown!’

— Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, Stave Five

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