Requiring no promises nor provocation, desiring nothing up front and making no demands either reasonable or un-, the wheelchair-bound middle-aged man with the greasy dark hair rolled himself up onto our 50m x 5m front sidewalk and started chiselling away the superficial sheets of ice. Like so many unwanted hunks of marble from David’s Apollonian figure the frozen flakes were freed from their concrete capturers. Every bit as methodically too.i
With a single-handed stabbing motion and a single 5 lbs. sidewalk scraper, it took him entire mornings to progress halfway across the byzantinely bricked street surface. Even still, I never knew his name until he was written up in the local fishwrap.
It didn’t matter.ii He wasn’t grovelling at my doorstep like so many thankless brothers. He was just doing his job and grateful for the unpredictably conditioned stimulusiii that found its way from my pocket to his but a handful of times over the coarser months.iv If ever there was in situ evidence against the poison of guaranteed paycheques, it’s this man’s motivation.
Very much like John the mulch man, the former resident of our downtown neighbour who since last spring found the sponsor’s support needed to lift himself out of transient pestilence, “Wheels” was self-determined, if markedly less inclined to ask for permission. It’s hard to call his efforts innovative, but it’s no stretch to call them inspiring.
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- If for reasons of differential ability and to starkly opposing ends. ↩
- It still doesn’t. ↩
- Whereas we’d previously sub-contracted a snow removal company (for $750/mo!!), this year we decided to splurge on a Honda snowblower – nothing fancy, just a basic HS720C – and go it alone. Which is to say that it was my job to clear the snowy sidewalks, or at least whatever Wheels was too tired or too slow to’ve cleared by the time I arrived at the office.