Yesterday and overnight a significant amount of snow fell on Montreal. Between 20 and 30 centimetres depending on your source. Plows have been out non-stop clearing streets and sidewalks as per usual in this city which has an annual snow-removal budget of some one-billion dollars.
There is a snow-storm etiquette that is required for a civilized society. These rules-of-snowy-thumb vary from city to city. For instance in Boston once you have dug out your car from a snowdrift, you put a marker in the spot – a chair or pylon, grandmother or used microwave oven – indicating your claim to that spot. That doesn’t work in Montreal, once you dig and leave it’s open season on that vacated spot.
One rule that does stand the test of time and travel however is the when-shoveling-out-your-car-don’t-shovel-mine-in common sense approach to freeing your vehicle.
Last evening my significantly better half parked our car on the street across from our building. About ninety minutes later, after dinner, we went out only to find that the man from the building across the street was just finishing clearing his substantial walkway. The only problem was he had used one of those giant scoop things and instead of putting the snow on his lawn, as he is supposed to do, he had plunked it on the street in front of and behind our car. He couldn’t have penned it in better had he tried, which he would later say he had not …
This was not the first time he has done this, but it was the first time it affected my access to my car. A passing Public Security officer confirmed to me that a bylaw had been broken and he would go and deal with the delinquent shoveler. But, I said, what about my car? He replied, I’ll ask him to help you dig it out. Huh?!
Fully expecting the perp to be dragged out of the building shackled in an orange prisoners onesie with shovel in hand, I was taken aback that I would have to clear his snow, regardless of broken bylaws. Is there no justice?
So I set out heaving piles of wet heavy snow from in front of our car back onto his walkway. But then, like a knight in shining armor on a fine Arab steed, appeared my savior. Well, actually it was a guy in a front-end loader from the city. The security officer had called for his assistance.
As he was deftly maneuvering the large beast and clearing my car from its bonds, the culprit and the security officer returned. Sheepishly the shoveler went to work removing what was left of the snow he had deposited around my car while the officer explained to me it was all done in innocence. No harm; no foul.
Handshakes all around sealed the outcome – at least until it snows again!