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Nature’s Wrath and the Best and Worst of People

Natural disasters are often used as yardsticks. As I shoveled my driveway, a neighbor asked me “where were you in 1978?” He was referring to the last big blizzard of this type.

The Big Blizzard of 2013 will be remembered for many years or decades to come. 

Natural disasters are often used as yardsticks.  As I shoveled my driveway, a neighbor asked me “where were you in 1978?”  He was referring to the last big blizzard of this type. 

There is a story for every person who has endured record-breaking bad weather, from Superstorm Sandy to last weekend’s blizzard. 

Hardship can bring out the best in people.  In my case, a neighbor stopped by with his truck to plow snow that was 5 feet deep and 30 feet long in the driveway.  That was after I had spent 8 hours laboring with a snowblower and shovel.  While he did that, I crossed the street to help an elderly neighbor clear a path 40 feet long from his home to the road. 

Unfortunately, not everyone with means is so magnanimous as my neighbor with the plow.

When I got in to work this morning, a colleague of mine recounted how her elderly parents were trapped in their home, and grateful when someone came along and offered to plow their driveway.  For $200.  And it was a small driveway – only long and wide enough to hold two cars.  Nonetheless, the helpless couple was grateful.

This is a reminder of how little it takes to help someone out of a jam.  It is also a reminder of how some people have no compunction about preying on the most defenseless of individuals.

Perhaps the man who did the $200 snow job on the seniors was pleased with himself for “helping out” as he counted his cash and drove on to the next victims’ homes. 

Would he have done the same if his parents were in the same situation?  What makes someone like that tick? 

While we prefer to remember the kindness of most people after a tragedy, one can’t help but see an image of one’s parents or other friends or relatives at the mercy of an unscrupulous individual.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Waterford Guy February 13, 2013 at 04:42 PM
maybe they shouldn't have just paid $200 to the first plow-guy who came along. Maybe they could have called someone else and shopped around for a better deal. Obviously they valued having a plowed driveway more than the 200 dollars in thier pocket. The guy didn't rob them at gunpoint, he offered a service for a price, which they accepted. People who complain about "price gouging" should take an economics class and quit crying like little sissies about how expensive a certain item or service is.
Matt February 13, 2013 at 05:01 PM
The more people that DON'T follow your misguided and deranged religious fanatical Westboro Baptist Church practices, the better. So I guess society isn't that bad off after all...
Knickerbocker February 13, 2013 at 05:39 PM
I think this is bringing out the worst alright - your judgmental character Mr. Schwartz on this business man trying to earn a living. Maybe he charged a little high - I don't know the whole picture. But I would expect him to charge double or triple the usual rate for the fact that this probably would take him 2-3 times longer than usual giving the extreme nature of this storm and that your parents are not regular customers. Also who knows the difficulty he had getting to the location as most roads were impassable - that has to be taken into account also in the price. I think you should just be thankful that he did come out at all (probably beyond exhaustion) and saved your parents bacon - and leave it at that!
Rockfall Resident February 13, 2013 at 05:51 PM
People who dismiss price gouging should take an economics class
VC February 13, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Triple the amount of snow compared to usual, triple the amount of time to clear it, triple the amount of wear on equipment and trucks, so it's only fair to pay triple the price.
Laura J February 13, 2013 at 06:24 PM
My neighbor sent me flowers yesterday for helping her shovel through a 5 foot drift in front of her driveway. You should have seen us two middle aged women huffing and puffing, it was great fun and I was surprised by the flowers and grateful. We had never talked before that day.
Jay D February 13, 2013 at 08:06 PM
A lot of plow guys lost their transmissions during this storm. This happens because of the weight and amount of snow. The average price for a transmission is $3000. You tell me if you think $200 is a fair price due considering the magnitude of the storm? How many $200 driveways does it take just to break even?
Jay D February 13, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Does anyone know how much a plow actually costs??
Elaine February 13, 2013 at 09:54 PM
@Rockfall resident - I see no reason for you to attempt to insult me - it only diminishes your argument - you did the rest by citing wikipedia as a reference @Jay D - a good heavy duty plow installed on a truck will run you $3000-5000. @Howard Schwartz - I did find myself in a similar situation as my snowplower died in this storm. I shoveled for hours to clear a path to the street so a friend could park and snowplow my car out. I would have happily paid $200 not to have to spend 10 hours shoveling. I would never expect someone to do it for free!
Pam Magnoli February 14, 2013 at 01:14 AM
wasn't his parents...was a female colleagues' from work
Knickerbocker February 14, 2013 at 01:29 AM
I'm sure Elaine feel so much better now MJ - NOT! Elaine you are not a mean person as this Rockfall Resident stated above - you got your head on right. Which is more than I can say for others on this site.
Malvi Lennon February 14, 2013 at 01:47 AM
The elderly couple had a need - the man with the plow was willing to meet that need for a price. Obviously the elderly couple did not have a problem paying for the service they received because at the end of the day they were grateful. Where is the beef?
Howard Schwartz February 14, 2013 at 01:58 PM
I have to agree that everybody has the powerful right as a consumer to say "No" if they are not happy with a goods or services provider. My neighbor who was helping people out on our street does indeed plow for a living, but wanted to help his neighbors, and refused to let anyone pay him - even to cover his fuel. We do the things we do because we want to - not for recognition. This was not about paid professionals doing work for free.
Peter J February 14, 2013 at 02:16 PM
Wyatt, as a small business owner I can tell you I spent 38 hours (Yes I keep track)last year complying with new regulations issued by Obama. That has a huge impact on small business. Additionally, all the extra taxes, flat income and less people working means less $ that can be spent at my small business. 2. Miles driven are down so it is not an economy that is growing (actually shrinking) that has given us $4 a gallon but the hidden tax of deficit spending that comes with printing $ and ZIRP that hurts the poor and middle class. 3. Not sure what Tom meant so I will let him answer.
Wyatt February 14, 2013 at 02:20 PM
@PeterJ. 1. What regulations did you spend so much time complying with? 2. What extra taxes? 3. You really believe that US deficit spending is responsible for the increased price oil? Do you have any evidence for that at all?
JmL February 14, 2013 at 02:29 PM
I gladly called around and found some one willing, who had the time to come to my little drive to plow out the rest of the hard packed heavy snow. My kids and I spend hours trying to clear it. We asked a man with a blower working on the next house over if he could come over. He did about a third of the total drive. he didn't want to take our money, I insisted he did. His time and gas and willingness to make time in his busy schedule were worth that. He could have said no. The plow guy I ended up finding, did a fanastic job. and was well worth the $ we spent.
Mike Atkins February 14, 2013 at 02:32 PM
@ Peter J, can you please let us know what your small business is ? Sounds like you're just whining because it is a lousy businees that is run by an angry man who is blaming his failures on the President of the US. Just tell us the name of your business, free adverstising, kind of. OK?
Mike Atkins February 14, 2013 at 02:34 PM
what if the selfish first family had just taken 2 rooms and done the right thing?
Mike Atkins February 14, 2013 at 02:35 PM
just maybe if he had not gouged an older couple they would use him again or not bad mouth him to everyone who will listen? maybe they will report him to the IRS and see if he pays his taxes?
Mike Atkins February 14, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Thank you @ Howard Schwartz. I shoveled and snow blowed my drive way for 3 hours and then went to my elderly neighbors and spent another 2 hours doing their driveway, because that was the right thing to do. Got a big plate of home made chocolate chip cookies also!
IRTURONG February 14, 2013 at 02:43 PM
just like the left still blaming G.W. time for the libs to own the problems we're having now,and by the way,you guys controlled the house while G.W. was president
Mike Atkins February 14, 2013 at 02:49 PM
@ Tom the only small business man that fails, fails becasue they are lousy at business or they have a lousy product or the spend all day whining that Obama ruined their business.
Robert Bracer February 14, 2013 at 03:24 PM
Love how it all comes back to the race thing. Thanks Emily, showed your stripes.
IRTURONG February 14, 2013 at 04:11 PM
race thing?are you saying liberals are people of color?just trying to understand
Emily February 14, 2013 at 04:30 PM
Robert "Race thing"? What race thing? please explain...
Knickerbocker February 14, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Howard you are making absolutely no sense now. You are stating two different scenarios and unfairly blended them together to make some irrational point. On one hand you are talking about neighbors helping each other for free (and that is commendable) and on the other hand fearsly criticizing this business man trying to earn a living. Two different scenarios. Might I add again, given the nature of the storm this was not price gouging – maybe a little high, but given the testimony of some professionals who chimed in – not unreasonable. How do you know that this drive-by plow guy wasn't also helping his neighbor for free hours before, wherever he lived, or an elderly relative and now was on road again trying to pick up more business? For a person stating “We do the things we do because we want to - not for recognition.” You and others on this site are certainly doing a lot of yapping of how great you all are for doing your once in a blue moon good deed. Leave this guy alone and end it already!
meowkats4 February 14, 2013 at 06:03 PM
Famous American Words are: "What's in it for ME"
Emily February 14, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Mike, That is the point exactly. It would be nice if people did the right thing but unless forced they usually don't. Look at the grocery stores before any storm. People that haven't eaten bread all year have a shopping cart full. They don't need all that bread just like they don't need a seperate room for each member of the family."Price Gougeing" levels the playing field and makes it so everyone gets some and no-one takes it all.
Guilford Girl February 14, 2013 at 09:16 PM
I gladly paid two hundred dollars to the people who came with not only a plow truck with a sander, but a bucket loader to dig me out, I couldn't have been happier to see them or to pay them.( And it wasn't until late Wednesday ) The equipment is expensive to own and keep up, not to mention fuel. And the hours are lousy! So until you have been in the drivers seat of a plow vehicle perhaps the complainers should put up, or keep quiet and shovel to their hearts content.
Guilford Girl February 14, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Not to mention that this was the LARGEST blizzard to hit the state since 1880, No one has the equipment to deal with that.

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