Monday, April 16, 2007

Being human ...

Last night Montreal was treated to the thickest, clumpiest, wettest snow I've ever seen. It fell in sheets, all night. I kept getting up to watch it. A couple of times I wondered if I should move my car since I parked it across the street in a place I'd never used before, but I kept reminding myself that I had been very careful to check the signage and it had the 'no parking' icon and under that it said Lun-Vend. 9:30-18:00. Now normally that means no parking Monday through to Friday between the hours of 9:20 and 6. Given that I had to be at work for nine, I figured this was no problem. Plus there were several other cars parked in front of and behind mine so I figured it was ok.

In the morning, I peeked to see what the weather was doing (still sleeting but not quite so badly) and my car appeared to be fine though there was a bit of an bank from the plow having gone by. But I have an all wheel drive and knew I could get over it just fine, and there seemed no urgent need to move it since several other cars were still parked there as well (it must be okay if someone else is doing it, right?) so I went about my morning routine quite happily, though the sound of the sleet hitting the windows had me running back to the window every once in a while just to see what it was doing.

One of those times just happened to be right after I stepped out of the shower (yeah, it had to be after the shower, what timing!). And when I peeked -- ACK!! -- the plow had gone by again and this time he passed as close to the cars (mine included) as he could and banked up a huge hard pile of wet clumpy snow, packing it right into the cars, up to the windows of a few. I was stunned. As I stood gazing at the mess, the driver of the car parked behind me showed up, and promptly navigated his way up onto the sidewalk and drove along it to the next street. I could never do that myself but I kinda admired that nerve! A woman whose car was parked in front of mine showed up and, bucket in hand, began removing the snow back from the side of her car. It wasn't pretty.

I realized I had better go sort this out now rather than wait for the plow to come by and build that bank up a bit highr. So, I got dressed and went out, tried to drive my car over the bank, but they were just too high. So I had to go borrow shovels from Michel (a neighbor) and join the bucket-wielding woman, who quickly ditched her buckt for one of my shovels). We introduced ourselves, her in her faltering English and me in my much worse French. I commented on how awfully heavy the snow was, and how frustrating it was that the plow had banked us in when according to the sign it was okay for us to be parked there!

Yes, she said. the snow was piled up to the windows of her car. This was her first time in Montreal, and so far, she's not very impressed. What that plow did, she said, that wasn't very human.

I stopped. At first I found it odd that she used the term 'human' when she obviously meant 'kind' or 'considerate' or thoughtful' or even 'humanitarian' which seemed a rather large term for this situation.

But then I realized, I agree with her. To be human is to be all those things, is it not?


Yes, I said, what that plow did was not very human, not very human at all!

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