Topic: I Bought My First Snow Shovel
As some of you are aware, I've recently relocated to Virginia. Here is my first experience, not with snow, but with snow plows, snow shovels, and shoveling snow. I hope you northerners get a chuckle or two.
I bought a snow shovel today. It is my first one. Moving to Virginia has had hidden costs, and buying a snow shovel is one of them. In northern Virginia designated parking areas, such as actual parking lots, are saturated due to the population density. There are many programs and inducements to encourage the use of public transportation, to discourage driving, and even to dissuade automobile ownership. These programs are somewhat successful but still there are more automobiles than parking spots and therefore parking remains, at the very least, competitive.
Parking on the street, actually along the edge of the street, curb parking, is both necessary and popular. For someone like me, coming from the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, where there are many people and cars, but less population density, street parking is virtually unknown, and for me, unsightly. My apartment building offers a nice parking lot. It is a park-like environment with grass, trees, birds, and squirrels. To park here requires membership in the homeowners' association, a $200 fee.
I do not like the idea of paying to park although I am aware this practice is common. I've chosen to park on the street in order to avoid the $200 fee. Street parking is not free however. For example, today I had to buy a snow shovel for $23.99. Less than the $200 parking fee but not free. I also had to dig my car out of its land-locked parking spot along my street.
There has been quite a bit of snow in Northern Virginia since I arrived. Last week over 12" of snow accumulated in one day. Much of this snow still exists in piles and berms produced by the snow plows which clear the streets and parking lots. For a car parked on the street like mine, this berm runs parallel with the street and blocks all the cars parked at the curb. We are all land-locked and have been for going on four days.
I am stir crazy from being cooped up in my apartment. I need to get out, to be amongst strangers - all too easy for me in my northern exile. I was not able to attend church this morning and I needed to go grocery shopping. I needed a shovel. I spent considerable time loitering in the building's lobby and wandering the halls and parking lot in hopes of borrowing a snow shovel from someone, anyone. I was prepared to offer to dig their car out if I could borrow their snow shovel. No luck, so I called a colleague for a ride to the Home Depot so I could buy my own shovel.
The Home Depot - "...the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer with stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, 10 Canadian provinces, and Mexico" - was sold out of snow shovels and traditional square transfer shovels. (https://corporate.homedepot.com/Pages/default.aspx) It occurred to me these shovels had succumbed to the same market demands as the milk supply, in all likelihood, simultaneously.
We left "the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer", and with the help of our smartphones, found Ayers Variety and Hardware, a small, locally-owned hardware store with exactly one location: Arlington, Virginia. Ayers Variety and Hardware is tucked into a quiet neighborhood in what felt like a small town far away from Target, PetSmart, and Bed Bath & Beyond.
Ayers had all the snow shovels one could want. They also had, in keeping with their name, variety. I believe they had one of everything anyone could want. My snow-shoveling debut awaited so I did not explore. I will save the exploration for my next visit. And I will visit again. The place had a homey, comforting feel and it was pleasant doing business with them. I splurged and bought a snow brush/scraper (for my windshield) and a plunger for the toilet. (The lack of a plunger when snowbound is a whole other story.) On the way out of the store I noticed a "help wanted" sign. Hmmm?
Arriving at my snowbound car, shovel in hand, I had opened up a path of egress for my car in a matter of minutes using an undeveloped but effective technique. A technique unfortunately unavailable to Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton during his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914–17) aboard the Endurance.
I now own my first snow shovel and today I have shoveled snow for the first time in my life. I have taken to street parking and I have learned that snow plows are effective at making streets passable. I have also learned street parking is not free. This may be the last time I use my new snow shovel, but for me, for today, it was worth every penny of $23.99.