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William is an Assistant Professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in the Department of Business Administration and Tourism and Hospitality Management. He is fascinated by research around how individuals construct and create their social realities, intrigued with the powers of creativity and innovation, and an avid proponent of outstanding service experiences. When not teaching, writing, or researching, he tries to spend time with his family and occasionally paint. He is currently completing his PhD in Management at Saint Mary’s University.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

With a great snow blower comes great responsibility


It’s snowing in Halifax. Surprise, surprise. It is winter after all and in this city, with winter comes snow.

And with snow comes the expected waist-high dump mountain of ploughed snow at the end of every driveway left, with love, by the city.

For the last two years, the neighbour on our left (your right) has, when the weather was particularly nasty, wandered over with his snow blower to help carve out the gift left by the plough. The first time we experienced this in 2010. I was busy focused on cleaning my steps when I heard the sounds of turbine blades at the foot of my driveway. There he was, machine in hand, pushing through what the city had left us. Arcs of snow rooster-tailed gracefully into the air as he cut through the hill of powder and ice.

I walked to the end of my driveway and had the first of what would be many chats with my neighbour. We talked of work and weather, family and fate. And as he attacked the hip-high hill, I would work on his lane, shoveling the smaller areas. We worked like tandem, moving snow in unison, each helping the other with the tools at hand.

Last summer, he moved away. I had lost my shovelling partner in crime. And today, during the big weather event, I missed him.

But something interesting happened...

My wife came down to my office to inform me that our other neighbour on the right (your left) was in our driveway carving a path through the waist-high mountain of snow left by the street plough. Of course, I needed to gear up and get out there! You cannot let someone show that type of spirit with making an appearance. There he was, red snow plough in hands, cutting into the pile. I walked out to him so that he could see me wave in appreciation. So that I could make my thanks evident.

He turned off the machine and smiled at me.
“I didn’t know you had a snow blower! Thanks so much for the help.” I said.
“Just got it this year – bought it off of Paul when he moved. Happy to help!” he replied.
Paul was the neighbour on our left (your right). It’s was Paul’s snow blower.

It seems that the new owner had not only bought the snow blower, but with the purchase, acquired the ‘responsibility’ that came with it. He now had the means to help those on either side of him when he could, using the tools at his disposal when the right time presented itself. He understood the tradition and stepped up to the responsibility.

School was in session today. The school yard was snowy and the lesson came in arcs of snow. Perhaps one day, I’ll be in possession of the snow blower, running the red machine between houses of shovellers hard at work. If that happens, I’ll take the responsibility seriously.

After all. It's the human thing to do.