Winter Sidewalk Experiment

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 02/1/2011

I could have also categorized this post under “Personal Pet Peeves”.

If you were walking down the middle of a sidewalk and encountered the scene in the photo below, (with a snow shoveler off to the side allowing you to walk by) where would you walk and why? A few caveats: there is no one behind you, and no one in front of you for 4 blocks.

This post is dedicated to Joe McSweeney, a neighbor I had the pleasure to meet and chat with while shoveling today.

20 Responses to “Winter Sidewalk Experiment”

  1. Shadow Eagle says:

    i’d walk in the clean spot. now why was i wrong to do that? or is this your walk, and people walked in the snowy part, spreading snow back on the clean part?

  2. Vanessa says:

    I’d look at the guy and thank him and walk on the clean part.

    My pet peeve is the people who don’t clean off their cars. Who’ll drive with a foot of snow caked around their car and a only small spot on the windshield cleaned off.

  3. Fairlady says:

    It seems as though the shoveler went to the side so I could walk on the part he shoveled. I would thank him and walk on by.

  4. kidelo says:

    I’d walk on the clean side so as not to pack the snow down more on the snowy side and make it harder to remove.

  5. Julie Capp says:

    I’d walk in the clean spot too, unless it looked icy.

  6. Jerry Cullymore says:

    If I was walking on the right side to begin with, I probably wouldn’t cross over to the bare sidewalk. Feet are already snow covered, 15 feet of clearing isn’t going to help me. If on the other hand I was on the left, I’d again keep going straight and would even say thank you to the shoveller. (I’m a Concierge, I can’t go by and not say anything. Who knows this may be a business I’ve done business or will do business with, have to maintain the positive karma)

  7. Lynn says:

    I’d walk in the cleared off spot too.

  8. SkippyMom says:

    Since you were standing off to the side allowing pass I would definitely walk on the clear space because my footprints in the snow make it harder to shovel up since I have packed it down with my weight.

  9. Amanda says:

    I’d walk where the snow shoveler wasn’t standing. As to why…I guess mostly just to maintain personal space.

  10. John A Keith says:

    If it had recently been shoveled I might actually walk on the snowy part. If the cleared part is wet, it could be icy. You’re less likely to fall on the snowy part, it’s true.

  11. shari says:

    I would have to say the clear part..isnt that why he is shoveling it in the 1st place…for pp to have a safe walking path?? Although opposite for anyone washing a floor though,then you of course would walk on the dirty side…lol,

  12. Ariane says:

    One more vote for “cleaned side” here. I live on a corner lot and it is MUCH harder to shovel packed down snow. I usually clear a path to the sidewalk and do that first, then do the driveway, since that is usually a lot less work. Also, retired neighbors with snow blowers are amazing.

  13. Lou says:

    Walk on the clean side and REMEMBER to thank the shoveler.

  14. Marsha says:

    AARRRRGGH!!! As an owner of a coffee shop in a VERY snowy area, I would urge EVERYONE to PLEASE WALK ON THE SHOVELED AREA!!!! I am the sole proprietor. I do everything. I have no employees. Help a lady out.

  15. Marsha says:

    OK, I wrote the above without looking at the other responses. *deep breath*

    #1. If you DON’T walk on the unshoveled area, you will not have ice on which to slip and break your head open.

    #2. If you choose to walk on the snow, it will pack down (making it difficult to shovel) and during the next freeze/thaw cycle, you will have ice on which to slip.

  16. Suzanne says:

    my pet peeve; shoveling off your car in front of my house after the plows have gone by, so when they make another pass all that snow will be pushed back in front of my driveway! Def walk on shoveled side and thank the person!
    no brainer!

  17. Thanks to all who responded. As always, there’s lots to learn by reading different perspectives and opinions. Here’s my take:

    The sidewalk in the picture is in front of one of my favorite restaurants that I was walking by on my way to shoveling out my friend’s car. I took a turn at staying ahead of the falling snow after saying hello to my buddy, Anthony the sous chef.

    As the shoveler, I’d prefer that people walk by the shoveled part of the sidewalk because it makes it more difficult to shovel snow if people keep packing it down. It was warm enough that the cleared path on the left was not slippery as some readers suggested.

    For some people it’s so easy; they walk up, say hello, thank you and walk on the clear side. They observe, think, communicate and care. Others are oblivious, ‘unconscious’ as my friend Max calls them. They’re annoyed that you’re in their way while working. I have a future blog post coming up titled, Getting Beyond Me.

    Shari reinforces the point I was trying to drive home. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in a store or a business where someone was moping the floor and customers walk around ‘wet floor’ sign, onto the clean, wet floor with their dirty shoes, instead of walking on the dry part of the floor. It kills me.

    I need to start interviewing these people on camera. Maybe the show could be called, What were you thinking? John Quiñones, are you with me?

  18. Patti DiVita says:

    Great Idea Patrick! Making a show! As long as those people can remain unidentified while being rude and inconsiderate, maybe by flashing their face for all to see, they might behave differently? Then the bad behaviour might stop….It works with politicians doesn’t it??? 😉

    By the way, I too would walk where it had been cleared and thank the person for their work. Seems to me to be simply common sense and courtesy.

  19. Joe says:

    No question, the shoveled side. I have a lot of snow to move every time it snows and I know how frustrating it is to clear compacted snow (especially form a car tire track, but that’s a different personal rant).

  20. Kristen says:

    I can’t vouch for businesses, but in my neighborhood I’ve had to trod through a foot or so of snow to get to my car, as the usually-attentive landlady has a second party plow out my lot. Yep, driveway is cleared, but I stumble through a foot of snow to get to my damn car. The porch is snowed in, and I sigh, and pick up a shovel, and dig.

    I’ve shoveled a path out to the lot in the past, for both myself and those that live in this establishment. Honestly, plowing out a lot is one thing, but, seriously, think of those who can’t manage the snow. The footing is tricky at best. I wrecked my back shoveling a path for my neighbors after the last NE snowstorm.

    Many of my neighbors are not as young as I am, and I take it upon myself, on occasion, to clear the way so it’s safe to walk in the winter to the front door. I don’t like climbing over snowdrifts, and I know the people that reside in my building don’t appreciate it, either. I spent two hours a few weeks ago, at midnight, digging a path to my front porch after my silly little Honda slid home like a sled pulled by a pack of drunken Huskies.

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