Robert’s column

Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Snow days used to be an opportunity for kids to make money

A group of friends and myself would collect our snow shovels and begin going door-to-door

When I was a kid, snow storms were a golden opportunity to make some extra money.

During and after winter storms, a group of friends and myself would collect our snow shovels and begin going door-to-door in our neighbourhood asking people if they would like us to shovel out their driveways, sidewalks and walking paths.

We had to move fast because we weren’t the only youngsters who had come up with the idea, and competitors were always trying to get to snow-bound houses ahead of us.

We never asked the homeowners for money for our labours because we somehow felt that expecting remuneration from our neighbours would be rude, but we counted on people’s sense of fair play and those we worked for never failed to offer us appropriate compensation when we completed the work.

We’d then move on to the next house and try our luck again.

I don’t recall ever getting tired or even breaking a sweat as we moved thousands of pounds of snow after each storm, and that can be attributed to the fact that we were young and full of piss-and-vinegar, so physical labour never bothered us much.

We just assumed that the older people who hired us to their shovelling were either too busy of just too lazy to do their own physical labour.

In retrospect, there’s a lot to be said for that old saying that youth is wasted on the young.

All those memories went through my mind on Dec. 20 when I found myself shovelling massive amounts of snow from my driveway after the mid Vancouver Island area was hit by a storm that dumped almost a foot of the white stuff in less than 12 hours.

I found myself having to take numerous breaks to catch my breath due to the fact that I’m not exactly as young as I used to be, and a largely sedentary lifestyle for many years has taken its toll.

I yearned for the days when this was easy work, and my friends and I were capable of digging out as many homes in the day as there was daylight hours.

After much longer than it should have taken, I finally managed to clear my driveway and went back inside my house to collect my lunch and finally head to work.

But when I went back outside, a snow plow had made its rounds and had pushed almost all the snow and ice I had removed right back into the driveway again.

After shouting curses at the sky for a few minutes, I started again and soon found myself out of breath and getting a little dizzy.

I began looking up and down the street to see if there were groups of kids with shovels hoping to make a few bucks.

By that time, I was quite willing to pay $100 to have this chore taken from my shoulders, but there were no shovellers-for-hire anywhere to be seen.

I continued shovelling, but much slower than the first round of the assault on the accumulated snow in my driveway and I glared at each passing snow plow, suggesting in my look that if they tried to fill up my driveway again with hard-packed snow from the road, I’d throw my shovel at them.

After the work was done, I talked to my brother about the fact that young people don’t seem to be as motivated to make money after snow storms than they were in our day.

He told me that his neighbour, an elderly woman who looks like she’d have trouble lifting a cotton ball, asked some kids who were sliding across the street from her house if they’d like to make some money shovelling her driveway.

They said they weren’t interested and didn’t need the money.

To their credit, they took pity on the little old woman and finally did shovel out her driveway, but made it clear that they didn’t intend to make a habit of it.

I hate to sound like an old fart, but it appears that a lot of kids are overindulged these days and are losing the incentive to take the initiative and make some money for themselves.

I’m already dreading the next heavy snowfall.

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