Today was the day they finally called people out there to shovel the intersections and crosswalks of Salem, Massachusetts. There was only me and four other people, one of whom has the same name as a Ninja Turtle. Since I didn’t work with that guy much, I will simply refer to the guy I did work with as Leonardo as he did in fact lead.
Actually, there was no real assignment as such. We showed up at the office and the guy in charge told us what streets he wanted us to work on. Our job was to basically make the crosswalks a little more pedestrian friendly for the general public, as well as people with limited mobility and other fun and limiting conditions. We had the option of working alone or working as a group. I opted to follow Leonardo for a couple of reasons.
First off, he took both maps. The guy named after another Ninja Turtle who I shall not name because it’s his real name, took a picture of the maps and was content to work in mostly alone. Secondly, when my sole job description is dumb muscle or cheap labor, I simply refuse to take the lead. This way, if anything goes wrong, I can claim to be following instructions. But more to the point, if I don’t have the maps, what’s to stop me from going down the wrong street and shoveling where the city doesn’t want me to shovel?
That almost happened. A guy who allegedly works for another part of the city asked us to go down to the intersection near the Witch House and the Witch City Consignment shop. (For the record, no, I am not obfuscating these places. You could go blind playing a drinking game where you chug-a-lug at the sight of any business in Salem with the word “witch” in the name.) I did not do this thing because I don’t know this person. How do I know he’s not some power tripping desk clerk? Does he sign my paychecks? Maybe, maybe not, but he did not give me the impression that he was someone who could run me out of town for not following suit and Leonardo didn’t believe so either.
It was refreshing to work with people who actually did their jobs unsupervised. Although there was one woman, who I’d love to call April O’Neil, except that April was fairly useful the Turtles a number of times. Suffice it to say, this woman only lasted an hour and half because her only experience shoveling snow included raking leaves in Dallas. Hmmm, Raking Leaves in Dallas. I sense a History Channel documentary. Then there was a guy I’ll refer to as The Duck Mailman, because I only ever saw the action figure of this particular Turtles character and I think I may have seen a glimpse of the character in an episode of the animated series from the late 80’s. Translate that to mean that I did not see this guy much and have no way of telling you how useful or hardworking he was because he seemed to not even be out there.
Thus far, my only real complaint is the standard helpful comments from the peanut gallery. One made the observation that it was 2015 and, to quote her, “We still need men to shovel snow. If we can put a man on the Moon why do we need men to shovel snow?”
“Well,” I replied, trying to be helpful. “Landing on the Moon requires a slightly different understanding of the laws of physics. Also, I don’t think they need shovels on the Moon.”
We worked for about four hours. The paycheck comes in a couple of weeks and before then, I may get called in to work a few more times. Until then, I have to say the most rewarding aspect of the day was being offered a Sprite in the mayor’s office when Leonardo and I took a short break. Normally, I would politely refuse a cold beverage that would just lower my temperature on a cold day, but how often can you say no to free soda in the main office of the city’s highest official?