Ouch. My finger really hurts and it’s an important finger. It’s the index finger on my dominant hand and it’s the only one I use to type on my iPhone. So what happened? How did I lose a layer of skin from an open blister on my index finger?
Well, here’s the story.
For a couple days I risked my life walking from my townhome in Pantops to the grocery store and Starbucks because a few businesses felt it wasn’t their responsibility to shovel the sidewalk in front of their establishments.
I documented the lack of accessibility to the only crosswalk on Route 250 as well as the Charlottesville Area Transit bus stop near the DMV and tagged the Chick-fil-A Pantops and Atlantic Union Bank on social media. I even tagged the local news stations and newspaper. Obviously nothing happened.
I’ll do anything to avoid a phone call so I grabbed my shovel and decided to just do it myself. It was only after I was almost finished that I realized my throbbing finger had an injury from the cheap shovel and my lack of skill in moving huge chunks of slush, ice, and snow.
I talked about this in a job interview yesterday because I feel like it is a perfect example of my personality and work ethic.
I will never complain about something without trying to fix it. I’m a problem solver. I care about other people. I hold businesses and people accountable for their actions (or inaction). I’m willing to endure pain (both physical and mental) to do the right thing.
I keep checking my feeds for a thank you. For someone from corporate to respond to my tweets, reels, and Facebook posts. It hasn’t happened.
Luckily a couple of amazing things did happen as I was shoveling and it’s what gives me some hope and pride.
A couple in a car stopped in front of 2050 Abbey Road Medical Center and asked if I worked for the city. He mentioned that he saw me on the other side of the road shoveling, too. I told him no, I don’t work for anyone. I’m actually currently unemployed and I don’t have a car so it’s important that sidewalks are accessible. I explained that I had tried to use social media to “shame” the businesses into doing the right thing, but it didn’t work so I took matters into my own hands. They thanked me and gave me fist pumps in solidarity.
A few minutes later another truck stopped and a guy came out with a flyer. It was for a snow shoveling service and he asked if I could give it to management. I told him that I didn’t work for the building and I was just volunteering. He seemed shocked, kept his flyer, and said, “Wow, that’s nice of you!”
So I did get thanked and acknowledged, but it wasn’t from corporate headquarters, it was literally from the man on the street (x2).
One last thing. As I started walking home to clear the patches I missed in front of Atlantic Union Bank a van from the Albemarle County Service Authority parked in the lot. A man got out and opened the back of the van and pulled out a shovel. He said he wanted to help me out since he had a better shovel. He noticed I just broke off part of my low-end orange plastic one attacking a stubborn piece of ice. I was so grateful that not only did one more person recognize my efforts, but he stepped up to offer me a hand. I didn’t get his name, but I want to thank him. His generosity and friendliness made my day.
My husband is writing a book about post-punk music in Kansas entitled, “No Choice But Action.” It’s my mantra now. I have no choice, but to act when I see injustice. Shoveling a sidewalk is just another example.
Charlottesville has an ordinance that businesses and homeowners need to clear their sidewalks by a specific deadline after a storm. Clearing sidewalks is about accessibility and pedestrian safety. I saw children navigating piles of snow to get on the school bus this morning. We need to think about others and make our communities safe for everyone.
I’ll take recommendations on a good shovel to purchase. I have a feeling I’ll need one for the next storm.