The snow started melting, and the lousy sidewalk dips , so I ended up with a four inch deep puddle at the bottom of my stairs. The dog wouldn’t walk through it, and I was tired of stepping in it, and I had a couple of beer already, so I was up for doing something, and figured this would be worthwhile.
I started hacking at the ice with my shovel, chopping away, trying to gouge a drainage canal. This was the stuff that never gets dug up by the ploughs, and then hardened and crystallized by all the people walking over it and packing it down.
Starting to make a little headway and one of the neighbours totters by, trying to avoid stepping in the puddles, but doing a poor job of it, because the whole damn sidewalk is submerged.
“The sewer’s blocked, that’s why this is all pooling here,” she says, with the tone of an obvious expert. I let her know I already dug it out, give her wink. She snarls back you wouldn’t expect any of them, gestures at the block behind her, to do it. I nod.
“They do live right in front of it.”
I give her another nod and get back to slamming my shovel edge into the ice. The water’s coming, but can’t get over a ridge.
While I’m chipping away at it, the landlord comes out, he lives on the ground floor, I’m up on the third.
“You’re in for it,” he says. I smile because the rent’s a few days late already and I’m not in a position to tell him he should be out here doing this instead of me, seeing as it’s his building. He starts up with the small talk a bit, and I keep chipping away and nodding now and then.
When he’s had enough of hearing himself talk, he heads inside, only to come out a few seconds later with an old crowbar, saying how it might work easier for me, and I admit, that’s a damn good idea, so I thank him kindly and get back to it.
There’s a steady stream flowing now, but it isn’t drainage fast enough, so I decide that canal needs to be wider. I call up to the wife, have her bring me down a beer. She gets to the landing, a floor up and just throws it down at me. Lucky for me, I drink cans so nothing broke, but I had to wait before opening it, and I was really looking forward to drinking it.
“You’d think you be a little more thankful,” I said, aiming for sweetness, “I’m doing this so you won’t get your feet wet when you head out to the grocery store later.”
She asked me why in the hell she’d be doing that, and I said we got to eat don’t we, and since I was doing all the back breaking labour, she might as well fry up a couple of steaks.