January 31, 2014

WOLFSIE: Where are the kids?


---- — I do not have a snow blower. And I refuse to buy one. My neighbors all have snow blowers. I don’t know why they don’t just plow on over to my house. The coffee is always on.

After the last storm, snow mounted at our front door, drifting to over 3 feet. The entrance to the driveway was blocked by a huge pile of white stuff, the result of a private company plowing our cul de sac. I was a man just primed to be taken advantage of by some savvy kid who knew I was a senior citizen with a decent job, back problems and a cardiologist on retainer.

I walked outside and scanned the neighborhood. A few of my more fit neighbors were hard at work, if you call pushing that snow blower “work.” But teenagers, shoveling snow? Not a one. Where were those big, manly 17-year-olds whose parents have bumper stickers that say, “My son is a lineman for Warren Central”? I’ll tell you where they were: they checked the Internet to be sure schools were closed, then turned over and went back to sleep. Doesn’t anyone want my 5 bucks? (Oh, it’s 40 now? See how long it’s been since anyone has come by?)

I’ve had kids lined up on my front step for the last 15 years looking for free handouts at Halloween. Now, they’re old enough to make an honest buck. Where are they?

When I was a kid in New York, as soon as school was canceled due to heavy snowfall, my best friend Arthur and I got into our warm coats, armed ourselves with shovels, then set out in the neighborhood by 8 a.m. to make a financial killing. I remember one day coming home with a wad of scrunched-up wet bills in my pocket. I showed my mom the stash of $52. “That’s more than your father made today!” she said. She wasn’t kidding.

We never had a set fee for our work. Instead, we did a little glacial profiling. We knew who was desperate. Like the widow Mrs. Stern, who was snowed in and couldn’t get her 1959 station wagon out of the driveway ($15); or poor Mrs. Claster, who, because her husband traveled, was left alone during the blizzard ($10, plus 2 bucks for the walk); or Dr. Arman, a big-shot doctor, who would pay us pretty much anything we’d stick him for.

Yes, our pricing structure was downright despicable. Now 50 years later, I deserve to be taken advantage of. So I’m waiting here at the front door — a door I can’t open. Money in hand. Someone take my cash. Please!

I yearn for those days when I had the muscle and the heart to shovel a driveway after a snowstorm. Now, I am dependent on young men and women who don’t want to make an extra buck and who are, instead, holed up in their rooms with a video game.

Of course, it is possible a small band of young entrepreneurs did come by our house while my wife and I were huddled inside awaiting assistance. They saw the snow piled up at our front door and on the driveway. The powder was deep, pristine, and un-trampled.

Maybe, they thought, no one lives here anymore.

Dick Wolfsie is a syndicated humor columnist and author. Reach him at