When it comes to shoveling snow, I am a wuss, which stands for “wait until spring starts.”
Unfortunately, I have never been able to convince my wife, Sue, of this brilliant philosophy in the two-plus decades we have lived in our house.
Sue knows I have been perpetrating snow jobs my whole life. In fact, I was born during a blizzard. So whenever we’ve had a winter storm, or a nor’easter, or a “snow event,” as meteorologists like to say, I have bundled up like I was going on an Arctic expedition and dug out the cars, cleared the front walk and shoveled the driveway without collapsing into a snowdrift and being found frozen stiff the next morning like Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.”
I used to have a small snow blower that turned out to be the Little Engine That Couldn’t. My former neighbor Ron would often come over to help me with his large snow blower and kindly gave it to me when he moved, but it, too, has gone to the Great Snowy Beyond.
So I’ve had to rely on my trusty shovel, which is a glorified soup spoon. I used it to get rid of the eight inches of wet, heavy snow we got during a pre-Christmas storm. After having a shot of blackberry brandy to stave off coronary thrombosis, I finally decided to hire someone to plow the driveway so I could stay inside and get plowed myself.
That brave someone is Justin Felix, 19, the wunderkind operator of North Coram Snow Removal on Long Island, New York.
Justin proved to be a lifesaver (wintergreen, of course) because we recently got 15 inches of snow that could have stopped a polar bear in its tracks.
Assisting Justin were his father, Nick, 48, a banker who co-founded the side business with Justin several years ago, and Justin’s girlfriend, Kate Stevens, 18, who worked just as hard and efficiently as the guys.
In fact, Kate wielded a shovel with lightning speed, clearing the front walk in less time than it takes me to put my boots on.
“What’s your secret?” I asked.
“I just lift and go,” Kate responded.
“If I tried that,” I told her, “I’d have to be lifted into an ambulance so I could go to the hospital.”
Justin and Nick, meanwhile, each manned a three-stage snow blower that, said Nick, “can cut through ice.”
“The ice isn’t as thick as my skull, which would probably break the machine,” I noted.
Justin smiled and fired up his snow blower, which blew snow (hence, the name) directly into my face when I was stupid enough to stand in the way.
“I have brain freeze,” I explained.
Justin, an enterprising young man who also is an investor and works for an affiliate marketing company, started in snow removal when he was 15.
“I wanted to help neighbors and make a little bit of money, too,” Justin said.
“When I was that age,” I told him, “I didn’t even help around the house.”
That probably makes me the laziest of North Coram’s dozen or so customers, some of whom are fellow geezers who have thrown their backs out while trying to throw snow.
“I’ve also heard some cursing when snowplows leave huge piles at the end of their driveways,” Justin said.
I didn’t curse, which I have been known to do in such extreme situations, but I did help by moving the cars so the terrific trio could finish clearing my driveway.
“Fantastic job!” I gushed as I paid Justin a very reasonable amount of cold cash. “You just saved me from having a heart attack.”
“Next time there’s a storm,” he promised, “we’ll be back.”
“Take it from a real flake,” I said. “There’s no business like your snow business.”
Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service and is the author of five books. Email: JerryZ111@optonline.net. Blog: jerryzezima.blogspot.com.