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.

Richie Frieman
5-minute read
Episode #278

For the first time in many years, December has brought snow to my city. A light dusting causes my fellow Maryland residents to dash to the grocery store to stock up on industrial-sized packages of toilet paper and gallons of milk, like we’re heading for armageddon.  

So needless to say, when this past week brought nearly a foot of snow to my area, some people had a hard time adapting to the weather change..


As “Snowmageddon” made its way to my neighborhood, I dug out my shovel from the garage, grabbed some coarse salt, and waited for the proper time to get to work on clearing my sidewalk. However, as I looked around, it seemed not everyone was on board the shoveling train. What ever happened to neighborly compassion? Or just putting some elbow grease into cleaning up your own walkway? Come on, people! Where’s the humanity?!?

I like to think that it wasn't for lack of consideration. Perhaps some people's schedules got in the way. Or maybe they suffer from chionophobia, the fear of snow (yes, it's a real thing). But assuming that is a rare ocurrence, the reality is that it comes down to simple laziness or not caring about others around you. Sigh…

So, with that, here are my top 3 quick and dirty tips on neighborly snow removal:

Tip #1: Help Your Fellow Neighbor

I like to think I’m a pretty active guy. I go to the gym, I play sports, and I live a relatively healthy lifestyle. But after I shovel my walkway, I feel like I just went through war. My back aches, I’m sweating, my face is stinging from the wind…basically, it stinks.  Yes shoveling is a drag. That's not news. But nonetheless, we all have to do it.

And yes, I too get pissed when the city's snow plow come by and push a mountain of snow up my driveway - the driveway I just spent 2 hours clearing. But that's just part of the city's street clearing efforts and I’m appreciative of their hard work when I drive my car down clear, snow-free streets.

All of this makes me roll my eyes in frustration when I see my younger neighbors refuse to pick up a shovel and take care of their sidewalk. Imagine how that 85-year-old neighbor feels when they try to shovel? Here’s a hint: If you think it kills you, you have no idea what it does to them.

If you have neighbors who for whatever reason cannot shovel their own walkway, or brush off their car, do your best to lend a helping hand. I also recommend talking to the other neighbors to get them involved. “Hey Bob, I think we should pitch in to help Mary with her walkway. Want to join?” Does it have to be done at 5am? No. But you should take an extra half hour out of your day to help your less fortunate neighbor. If you do a little, and then Bob does a little, and Jim, and then Kathy, you can all spend a few minutes to help out someone who needs it, and it won’t make a huge dent in your day. Chances are when you're their age, you’ll want the help yourself.