I went to Home Depot yesterday to get some trash bags and noticed almost everyone around me, save myself and the guy carrying a power drill, was buying the same thing: too many bags of salt and shovels that could arm an entire neighborhood.
I found myself pondering: Why does someone need more than two shovels? Because most of them had two, and several had more. Was I missing something? Did I need to buy another shovel to accompany the one I already had at home? Should I buy two more?
I decided they were likely buying shovels for their entire family. Or maybe there are shovels for different tasks—like pastry tips! And since I’ve lived in a city for nearly 20 years, and haven’t had to shovel anything since college, maybe a person does need three shovels and 10 bags of salt.
I judged them, amused by their passion and warlike determination. At home, they had armies set aside, poised to fight this blizzard. And come tomorrow, at their households, it would be Mission Accomplished! before 8 AM. For they were ready! No blizzard would ever be too powerful or too intense for them.
I left Home Depot with thrash bags. I left without succumbing to the peer pressure. They were overreacting. They had far too many shovels. Everyone there, except for the guy with the power drill (and me), was crazy.
But A few hours later, I realized how wrong I’d been. My Home Depot friends, while diligent and a bit over-prepared, aren’t all that crazy after all. It’s the grocery store people, the folks who wait until the last possible second to stock up on items no one really needs, ever. The grocery store people are the true crazies. In the war analogy, my Home Depot friends are more like Marines—armed to the gills, tough, and ready for pretty much anything. But the folks at the grocery store? They’re hoping to dodge the draft altogether. Armed with Hostess Cupcakes, chips, soda and toilet paper, they are preparing themselves for doing absolutely nothing and hoping nobody notices.
As I stood in the express checkout holding my breath from the boozy mouthfarts that surrounded me like a vast moat of defeat, I realized something: Did they think I was one of them?
I looked down at my loot: A 2 liter of Diet Coke, a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips, Pepcid, and a carton of soy milk. But I have an excuse! I thought. I’m 7 months pregnant!
They’re all crazy. I am not. And I drove home really excited about my big bag potato chips.
This morning, we woke to10 inches of snow. Everything was completely covered in a thick, pillowy blanket of snow. And while I don’t know much about shoveling out a home after a blizzard, I do remember that back in college, back when I did have to shovel a sidewalk, it was best to do so right away. Waiting made it so much more difficult and terrifically more treacherous. It was 7:30 AM. Might as well get started.
I poured myself a cup of coffee, got my pregnant ass stuffed into some winter gear (I literally stuffed myself into the warmest and largest base-layer running gear I could find as it’s the warmest attire I own.) and headed outside to shovel our walkways. When I reached out to retrieve the shovel that sits right outside our front door, I found nothing. NOTHING. No shovel. No blue shovel purchased as a housewarming gift from my father. Nothing. It was gone. Our one and only blue shovel was gone. Someone had stolen our shovel.
I filled with rage. It bubbled up inside of me overtaking the heartburn I’ve been battling for weeks. Who steals a shovel? What asshole steals a shovel from someone’s front porch? I thought of all sorts of horrible things I would do to this person with a shovel. It made me feel better, hating them for it.
Should I call the police? Maybe if I call the police and report my only blue shovel missing, I would get out of the ticket I’m likely to receive for not shoveling my sidewalk. “No, officer. YOU don’t understand. I planned on doing this. But some degenerate scumbag stole my only blue shovel. So what are YOU going to do about it? Have you done anything to find this person? I bet not. I’m sorry but I shouldn’t have to pay this ticket, officer.”
And he or she would have proceeded to lecture me on needing more than one shovel.
As I looked out at all the untouched snow and empty streets, I thought about the warriors from Home Depot and how they were probably already done with their walkways, driveways and sidewalks. And even if some asshole had stolen the shovel off their front porch, they had at least two more. And even if someone had stolen all of their shovels, they could just salt the snow to death. They were prepared, after all. And I’d been so wrong about them.
Defeated, I walked back into the house, removed my boots, gloves, hat and sweater and headed straight into the kitchen. I went into the cupboard and fetched the bag of chips I’d gotten the night before.
And I sat down on the couch and finished off every last crumb.