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Snow Clearing Contract

February 2, 2014

My yard has a long driveway down one side of the property with the garage in the back yard.  I keep my car in the garage.  There’s no place to put the snow along the side of the house.  I have to transport it all to the front yard before I can pile it up on the side.  When we have a heavy snowfall with a north wind, it can take me two days to clear all the snow before I can get my car out to the street.  Before I retired, I drove to work every day.  Consequently, I was looking for somebody with the proper equipment to clear my driveway.

My reading of ads in the yellow pages and in a weekly newspaper told me that construction companies and landscaping companies would do snow clearing in the winter.  Some individuals were in that business too.  I avoided the large companies.  When I called the smaller ones, I found out that most of them want to do lawn care in the summer and snow clearing in the winter.  They weren’t interested in doing only snow clearing at my place.  Some of them restricted their work to a small area of the city.  They weren’t interested in doing my place either.  Some already had all the customers they could handle.  I could see that finding somebody was going to be difficult.

I finally did find somebody by calling the numbers in the classified ads in our free weekly newspaper.  That paper is gone now, absorbed by a larger daily newspaper.  I don’t subscribe to that one.  Classified ads are also gone, moved to the web now.  The one person I did find came around to examine my driveway and yard layout.  He gave me an estimate.  I had no option but to accept it.  He also wanted a contract for the entire winter, including a couple of months when we got very little snow.  I had no option but to accept that too.  I paid him for the entire winter.  He had no objection to that.

He showed up almost immediately after our first light snowfall of the season.  It was so light that he used a leaf blower to clear the snow off my driveway.  I was impressed with his quick response.  That was worth the money.  He was never that quick again.  As the snowfall got heavier, he switched to a shovel and a snow blower, but he also got slower and slower.  Sometimes he only showed up several days after the snowfall.  That was a problem because I needed to get my car out, but I didn’t want to pack the snow down on the driveway.  I compromised by digging two tracks through the snow where the car wheels went.  If the snow was deeper, I had to shovel it off the driveway myself.  This arrangement was not very satisfactory.

That year, I went away for a few days at Christmas to visit my parents.  When I returned, my driveway was full of snow.  I waited for a few days for him to come, but he never did.  Finally, I called his number.  His voice mailbox was full.  He never came again.   Whenever I called his number, his voice mailbox was full.  His other customers must have been calling him too.  My guess is that he abandoned all 0f them, just like me.  I had to find somebody else to do that one snow clearing job.  I did it myself after that, for the rest of the winter.

I never heard from that fellow again, leaving me to speculate on what had happened.  I suppose he took on more than he could handle.  Maybe something else happened so that he had to give up that business.  Maybe he felt he’d already earned his money by Christmas.  Maybe I should have found somebody more reliable to do the work.  Maybe I should have paid more.  I don’t know what went wrong.

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