Now that winter is officially past, I’d like to bid farewell to a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad season. It began poorly when many homeowners, like me, were abandoned by our former snowplow contractors. The problem was everywhere. A nationwide shortage of plow drivers left many of us scrambling.
My first line of defense was to contact several neighbors who were all in the same boat. One of them gave me a name. My neighbor had coaxed an enterprising cousin into plowing her driveway – so my house, right down the street, was pretty much a shoo-in. I thanked her and crossed my fingers.
So began my unusual relationship with Ron, whose day job involved heavy equipment. I texted Ron around Halloween, describing the job and asking for a quote.
“Hey Joan, I would be happy to help you with the plowing and shoveling,” he replied. “I would love to come by to talk pricing and mark everything out if you decide you would like me to do it.”
A couple of weeks later, I arrived home one evening to find the driveway all marked out. Ron had apparently stopped by and put stakes in the ground to protect the garden. Nor were they the usual flimsy aluminum reflector posts, easily bent or toppled in a storm. These were heavy-duty wooden stakes – thick, assertive, purposeful. These were not the stakes of a man bidding on a job; this was a commitment.
I acknowledged the fortifications, and asked whether a quote might soon follow.
“I am working on the pricing part,” Ron said. “I just need to sit down and write something up.”
Meanwhile, snowstorms came and went. Each time, the snow was plowed, driveway sanded, walkway cleared. Ron was obviously reliable and got the job done. But, in the absence of any bill or quote, would I need to take out a mortgage to finance snow removal?
Then, one day in January, as I was paying (other) bills, I sent a cajoling note – a reminder that I’d like to compensate Ron for his services.
“I am a little behind on that stuff,” he allowed.
And on it went.
This little adventure in the world of free-range plowing was proving to be an object lesson in going with the flow: Occasionally I would raise the question of a possible invoice in my near future, and Ron would apologize for his breezy style of bookkeeping. It wasn’t as if my driveway was being plowed gratis. At some point, Ron and I had simply accepted this arrangement on faith – that he would charge me fairly, and that I would indeed pay.
Four months and five storms later, Ron sent a bill – “finally,” he wrote, adding a smiley face. As it turns out, he charged the same rate as our previous plow driver.

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