While many of you weenies are enjoying an extremely late Indian summer out in the tropical pacific northwest, I’m hardening the F up in the Rockies, where we’ve been getting absolutely pounded with snowstorms. Just this last week we got two feet in a little over 24 hours. Being the ever-vigilant capitalist, I’ve acquired quite a few snow shoveling clients in the past couple months. After this weekend I’m now shoveling at six houses every time it snows (this isn’t including all the doors I knock on). The most lucrative household I have in my portfolio includes a house with a long L-shaped sidewalk section, sitting at a cool $60. Aside from this being the best-paying home, the people who live there are also my favorites. They include a 73-year old retired geologist who believes in animal-to-human telepathy, three cats, and the geologist’s daughter who’s an Amazon.com entrepreneur, meaning she buys house-fulls of stuff on sale and sells it on Amazon at a slightly increased price. They always invite me in a chai chocolate tea with liquor. They also usually give me a ride home since I’m on my bike and I always save their house for last, resulting in it being dark by the time I have to ride home in the snow, which I’ve done a few too many times. This last week the three of us all spent a good hour chatting and drinking liquored hot chocolate and tea while feeding peanuts from the kitchen window to a friendly squirrel. Part of my snow shovel job is providing company. The snow, like any out of the ordinary natural disaster, brings people together. While I walk down the streets in the white early morning beauty, everyone I pass has a bright smile on their face and is eager to sing a cheerful hello and a ‘good morning, some storm huh!?’ The minor inconvenience forces people to take a day off work and pull their kids around in sleds, take their overly-excited dogs on long walks, and help each other push their stuck cars out of the deep snow. The value of human companionship is the most undervalued commodity in our world. It’s lacking in a monumental way, which is seen in the overall deep depression in most of our lives–something that’s becoming more and more un-noticed by younger generations who grew up in front of a TV sitting in the back of an SUV. It’s just natural to feel depressed now, which is something you can easily get a prescription for. While we live 50 feet away from our neighbors and sit 10 feet away from the car next to us on the highway, our souls exist in universes populated by one. Loneliness among cities of millions.
Friday was a big day for me in terms of snow shoveling profits. I won’t say the number, but it was big. I’m always amazed at the price someone will pay for me to spend 15-45 minutes shoveling their driveway and sidewalk. I’m amazed and grateful. I try to hit up the hills, where the wealthier people live, and I struck gold this time with a new neighborhood I recently discovered within walking distance of my house. I usually underbid if I sense any hesitancy after asking if they’d like any shoveling done. And time and time again, after I’ve completed the job for $15, they throw in an extra $5 or $10 or even $20, feeling bad for taking advantage of my overly affordable price. After all, the snow removal companies would charge them three times as much. But it’s just amazing to me that they’ll drop $20 or more on something that takes me 20 minutes. It would likely take them around an hour (I’m a professional after all) in which case that’s $20/hr-worth of their time. I assume most of these people make more than that.
After a long day walking, riding, and shoveling in the snow, Tricia stopped by Boulder in the evening on her way up to the mountains for a weekend of skiing. We went out to dinner, searching for a Thai place, but instead found ourselves at a Moroccan restaurant. I thought it would be a good idea to familiarize myself with some more African dishes and compare this place to Ras Kassa’s Ethiopian Resaurant. It didn’t look like much from the outside: a cinder block office-complex-looking building with only one or two windows. It was situated next to a Subway and a Mexican meat market. A cheap neon light flashed ‘Open.’ Expecting the place to be cheap and empty, due to the snowstorm, we walked in surprised to see it bustling with customers and decorated to the ceiling with gold tapestries, rugs, and statues. We took off our shoes, as requested by a sign, and barely got in without a reservation. Within 20 minutes the place was completely packed with people. The food was good and rich, though not filling. But what it lacked in quantity of food, it made up for in quality of entertainment. A belly dancer came out and performed for at least half an hour. She used a sword AND flames, much to my approval. She made the entire restaurant get up and dance with her, teaching us some basic moves and turning the restaurant into a Moroccan belly dancing club.
The next morning I woke up to move more snow, since it snowed again that night. I can’t think of a more menial task: moving soon-to-be liquid water from one area to the next. What am I producing for the world? All I’m doing is speeding up what would happen anyways. The sidewalks will be void of snow in a few days no matter if I shovel or not. The modest amount of human contact and the friendly smile that I’m giving at the door are worth more to the world than my shoveling service. So why do we value non-valuable things? We’ll pay an extra ten bucks for the fancy laundry detergent but won’t invest that same ten bucks in a community skate park or a larger swimming pool at the local YMCA. Instead of visiting a friend in person we’ll pay extra money for a smart phone so we can check our email anywhere we go (a mockery to real communication): keeping us staring at screens everywhere we go, ignoring one another while we’re distracted by the bombardments of modern day media in our hand-held billboards. Billions spent on tricking people into buying crap…money that could go to something useful. The free market reigns terror on humanity, opting to crush thought, creativity, and quality of life in order to brainwash a society into buying and indebting itself with things it doesn’t need or want. Hoarding money is the American dream and those who do it best are regarded as heroes. Regardless, I went out to shovel snow and earn some grocery money for the second day in a row and tried not to think about how huge my arms and shoulders would become after all the heavy snow lifting. Snow storms are a time of forced rest for me, and I think I’ve already benefitted from the extra rest that I KNOW FOR CERTAIN that I wouldn’t have gotten if I’d been in Tucson this year. So while I’m unfortunately working out my upper body, it’s a small price to pay for my legs’ extra recovery time.
Some bad news I have in the form of a health issue: it began a little over a week ago. I started noticing small red dots on the tops of my feet. I didn’t think too much of it until a few days ago when I realized the dots had moved up my legs most of the way to my torso. A day later (yesterday) and they were on my hands and arms, somehow skipping over my stomach and chest. Today the rash is slightly worse. I assume it’s an alergic reaction to something I ate or touched in the last week, but before I came to that convenient conclusion I worried about bed bugs, flees, a recently acquired allergy to the cold or exercise (two things that I came upon on my Google searches), bacterial infections, and last but not least, scurvy. Scurvy was more of a hope really, since it would be pretty damn funny if I got scurvy. Not really, because it would mess up the entire year for me, but I know in hindsight it would make for a funny story and hopefully lead to a new pirate-inspired nick name. Alas, I eat too much vitamin C to get scurvy.
Some good news I have in the form of that same health issue is that I no longer care about my rapidly spreading rash. I’ve decided that if I ignore it, it will most likely go away. Sort of like debt collectors and cavities.
No transition: While my last post included a detailed story of a very hard day on the bike that I thought was thoroughly bad-ass, I want to clear up the incorrect notion that all my rides are like this. My intentions were to describe to and entertain my readers with a HARD day, because I for one like to hear about hard training. It’s more interesting and exciting to hear a description of an all-out suffer fest than a one hour recovery spin. But many of my rides are easy recovery days, of course. Today I rode two hours total and focused on keeping a smooth and controlled cadence of 110-125. I did this for an hour and a half. No hard efforts. No suffering. No leg bleedage. Just relaxed and focused riding. So for anyone out there that thinks I’m training like an idiot or too hard, remember that I only do a Shaky ride once or twice a month (at most). Hopefully my racing will speak for my hard (yet focused and smart) training this winter.
Final thoughts: Every time I’m broke it snows and I get rich quick. What do I do with the money? Celebrate with a fully loaded backpack of the best groceries money can by at my favorite grocery store in the world, Sunflower Farmer’s Market, the poor man’s Whole Foods (I’m pretty sure that’s their real motto). I’m living a true gangster life-style, even banking on powdery white stuff for cash. My street cred is rising, despite my up-bringing in white middle-class suburbia. Gone from my ipod are 80’s rock ballads, Green Day, Modest Mouse, and Katy Perry. Now all I listen to is rap. It pays to get paid.
“The world is yours end everything in it. The world is yours, and every bitch in it.”
“Niggaz still hate but they can kiss my ass, still get a hard on when I count that cash.”
Let’s Get it
I’m glad to have Young Jeeze preaching these great American values. He knows what’s really important and has obviously taught us well. Get on your grind and get it.