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Let It Snow (Then Grab the Shovel)

Don't let your snowy driveway ruin it for everyone else. Modern Manners Guy has 3 tips on neighborly snow removal etiquette.

By
Richie Frieman,
January 6, 2014
Episode #278

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Tip #2: Don’t Be Last

I’ll be the first one to admit it, I don’t exactly have a green thumb when it comes to lawn care. Cutting my lawn is not fun, but I do it. Raking leaves is a terribly boring chore, but again I do it. However, when it comes to snow removal, I make up for my shortcomings in the spring and summer. I'm a master shoveler!

The best way to show you’re a good neighbor in bad weather is to shovel your walkway, sidewalk, driveway, etc. at a proper time. What is the proper time? Well, that depends. For one, starting right when the snow falls is a waste of your time since you’ll be back out there a few hours later. But then again, you never want to be last. 

Here’s when you know you really let your neighbors down: You step outside (usually in the late afternoon) and see that everyone else’s property is already shoveled clear to the concrete and you (slacker) haven’t even touched yours. But it should not get to this point. 

You never want to have a neighbor come to you and ask you to do your share, nor do you want to have your snow pile up so much that it blows onto your neighbors' clean walkways. If you get started midway through the snowfall (the weather forecasters have gotten pretty good at letting us know when that is), then you can save yourself a boatload of trouble in the end. Being last makes you look lazy and selfish - and neither will win you any fans in the neighborhood.

Tip #3: If You Can’t Do it, Ask for Help

In Tip #1 I mentioned people who could not shovel their walkway. If you have a condition that prevents you from doing physically demanding work, this is a perfectly valid reason to avoid shoveling. I would never expect my elderly neighbor to be out there for hours on end. That's why we all band together to help her out. But what if you're not physically disabled or elderly? What if you just don’t feel like it? Or maybe something came up (like you’re sick, hurt, out of town, etc.) and you actually can’t do it? In that case, I say call in reinforcements.

Your first line of defense would be to pay a local teenager who is looking for some extra video game money. When I was in high school, friends and I would go house to house and offer to clean off their cars and walkways. We’d make some money, get a good workout, and have fun doing it. I suggest you making a similar offer to a young neighbor if you can’t do it yourself.

And if you can’t the help of a teenager, I suggest calling in a big favor to a neighbor. Ahead of time, walk over with treats, drinks, whatever it takes to butter them up and make a plea for their assistance. “I know this is a huge pain but I won’t be able to shovel my area. Any chance you can help me out?” Again, always bring treats with you, and also remind them you will be more than happy to return the favor whenever they need it. That is a great way to be a good neighbor. 

Do you have a story about shoveling issues you’ve faced? How did you get a lazy neighbor to shovel their area? Post all the details in the Comment section below.

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

And if you have any future or recent college grads on your holiday gift list, give them Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career. It's my new book on getting, keeping, and succeeding in any job. It's available in paperback, ebook, and even audiobook format!

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