My Winter Doing Manual Labor

8 Dec

I feel like this is a coming of age story or something.  Except I’m not a 16 year old male.  I was 19 and female the year I got roped into shoveling snow at college.

Let’s back up and wallow in what a ridiculous decision this was.

First, I love snow but I’ve never been a huge fan of shoveling it.  I like to think that’s because I am small and petite and snow is heavy and cumbersome.  And I grew up without a snow blower and experienced many of those NH winters where the snowbank is higher than I am and you have to physically carry the snow (in the shovel) many steps before you can dump it.  And sometimes the snow is very wet and the shovel would weigh more than I did.  It was a rough childhood, I should probably get therapy.

Second, I didn’t need a job.  I already had two.  I worked 3 afternoons a week babysitting and I worked 10-20 hours at the library each week (and could easily have picked up more shifts).  This was at a college that discouraged working jobs because of the heavy academic load.  But I wanted to pay my way through college with minimal loans so I worked.  I learned how to study while shelving books at the library and while waiting for the 6 year old to get off her school bus.

Third, my roommate was the one who decided to shovel snow.  And she didn’t want to do it alone.  And why I said yes I will never know.  We didn’t get along very well – probably due to the fact she told me on the first day, before we’d even unpacked, that she didn’t like me.  That was a bad start.  Then there was the day we were playing a game and she defined me as “her awkwardness.”  And then there was her constant weekly habit of spending hours on the phone with her boyfriend, refusing to hang up while taking a bathroom break, and shoving the phone in my ear.  Then again, I guess spending 2-3 minutes on the phone with a roommate’s boyfriend while she uses the bathroom every other day could qualify me as someone’s awkwardness.

So there I was.  Committed to a winter of shoveling snow with a not-so-chummy-roommate.  In Western PA.  I mean, maybe if I lived in Atlanta, this story would have turned out better.

When there was a snowfall (I had never before watched the forecast so intently, praying against storms forecasted to fall on the night before my exams), we got a wake up phone call at 3:45.  We had to report to the maintenance department at 4 AM.  And then we had 2 hours to shovel every sidewalk and dorm entrance.  Without the use of motorized gas-propelled equipment.

Not that I’m bitter.

I mean, I’m sure the fact that I wake up very early every morning, even if I don’t set an alarm, has nothing to do with those 4 AM wakeup calls.  I’m fairly certain that my Renaud’s Syndrome (blood doesn’t circulate well in my extremities) thoroughly enjoyed going from warm toasty bed to bitter cold outside in mere seconds.  And my disinterest in most forms of strength training probably has nothing to do with the cold hard truth that even hours spent shoveling snow didn’t sculpt my shoulders like Michelle Obama’s.

Manual labor at 4 AM outside in the winter for minimum wage is a terrible idea.  But it did help me realize that heaven on earth is simply a hot shower, a bowl of steaming hot cocoa and a plate of scrambled eggs afterwards.



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