Heroes And Zeroes Of Snowpocalypse 2015: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

A plow rolls down the street as people trudge on foot down Joy Street on Beacon Hill Monday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A plow rolls down the street as people trudge on foot down Joy Street on Beacon Hill Monday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Snow can mean stress. Especially relentless snow that leads to cancellations, gridlock, cabin fever, hard labor with a shovel.

"The continual frustrations of managing kids at home, battling the commute to work, and dealing with the ongoing uncertainty around new crippling snowfall would make even the most easygoing person irritable," says Massachusetts General Hospital psychiatrist Dr. Gene Beresin.

But stress is a test. It can bring out the best in a person, or the worst — the hero or the zero.

What have you witnessed in blizzard-ridden Boston? A hero — a neighbor who snow-blows out five other neighbors' sidewalks? Or a zero — a neighbor who blows the snow off his car, right onto your car's hood?

Tell us your story about an act of kindness and/or ruthlessness during these snowstorms in the comments below. We posted this query on WBUR's Facebook page and it has already yielded a bonanza of vignettes that reflect the great range of human behavior, including:

My neighbor plows us out every storm and refuses payment of any kind. They're always there for us. A few weeks ago after the Boy Scout pinewood derby, my car got stuck and they sanded and pushed my car until it was freed. Today, I'm stuck at home with 3 boys, 2 with the flu and my husband is at work so getting outside for clean up has been hard. All of a sudden I heard a noise..they had pushed their snowblower down the street to my house to dig us out!!! Great friends and neighbors.....

We live in a condo/house with four apartments. We own, most of the others are rentals and the garage is common area. For the last three storms, the guy downstairs takes off to his girlfriend's and does not come back until everything is cleaned. The other person just sits and waits it out until we are done cleaning. The third is a 92 year old man (God love him) who will go out but I worry about him so I will do his share. I wish we could leave it once to show the slackers how it feels but we have to get the kids to school.

If he's not working, my neighbor will unfailingly come over and snowblow us out. He knows that I'm at home with two kids and that my husband works long hours. I use it as a lesson for my two year old - "look, our neighbor is using the snow machine in our yard! What can we do that's nice for him?" We bake if we can, or even just make a card - I want my little guy to learn that you pay goodness forward however you can.

Our street in Dorchester is all about snow heroes. Whoever is out with a snowblower at the moment will do the full length of the sidewalk, a group of kids has been traveling the block clearing steps and driveways, and everyone just chips in to finish off the tough spots. Even neighbors who are away have made sure their snowblowers are accessible for others to borrow. When my husband was traveling last storm, our neighbor came by and took out my dog every time he went out with his dog! It makes the snow much more tolerable when we're all in it together.

Just saw the snow plow go by and the guy across the street was clearing his driveway. Snow plow backed up cleared out the end of the driveway. My neighbor was so happy, he was almost dancing.

The woman across the street shoveled out her sidewalk by dumping on my sidewalk. Which meant walking it all across the street to do so. She has a backyard. And a neighbor shovels their snow into another neighbors fenced yard that is now high enough for her dogs to get out. That's definitely a zero.

My Mini got stuck turning into our condo building driveway. One of my neighbors walked by, paused, and said, "Guess your little foreign car isn't so good in the snow!", and continued walking.

I'm going to vote "hero" on my boyfriend, who has routinely cleared the walkway and sidewalk of our elderly neighbor across the street, the side walkway of the elderly neighbor next to us, and the sidewalk of the busy dad with two kids across the street. Oh, and he does our whole property including paths for our dogs.

I'm shoveling out our mailbox 2 weeks post partum and my neighbor is watching me from his stoop, heckling "haven't you got a snowblower?"

I have been shoveling the 'plow bump' for my older neighbors - but my terrific neighbor used his snow blower on several driveways (including mine) this morning! Hooray for Dave!!

I had a crazy neighbor a couple of years ago when we had a big snow winter who would take snow from her front lawn, and put it into the spot I shoveled on the street. Her reasoning was that I made the pile of snow near the end of her driveway too high and blamed me for it because I literally shoveled her driveway the first storm and put the snow near her driveway. Every time I would leave, I would come back to my spot filled with snow which I happily put onto the pile. It became a game for me, and I figured this 5'4 woman would give up and find something else to do. Well she didn't give up, and after 2 months of this, and trying to reason with her multiple times, I finally became fed up and confronted her while she was doing this and threw the snow onto her porch. I was the third neighbor she called the police on, and I awaited for their arrival happily while sitting on the trunk of my car. The cops came, could see the snow was clearly shoveled from her lawn, and told her if she wanted the pile moved she would have to do it herself. The cops word for word quote as they were leaving was, "wow, she is insane". It was amazing. The same woman also took my upstairs neighbor to court for nearly the same issue but she wasn't as patient as I was. The judge basically laughed her out of court. So glad i moved.

Neighbors here in Waltham have all been fantastic. We all help each other out, especially since not everyone has a snowblower and it's really hard out there right now without one.
I wish I saw more of that kind of kindness on the roads, especially in downtown Boston. But the gridlock lately has been enough to make anyone feel nasty.

So blessed to live in a neighborhood where people care, and karma does come back to you. My husband has been snowblowing out many neighbors for years. The other day, my husband had to work late, but when I came home, the driveway was clear and someone had taken the time to put my trash bins back in front of the garage (it was trash day) so that the plows didn't carry them away. You get what you give.

My neighbor drives a large pickup truck that he puts a plow on in the winter. He then plows random parts of the road (mostly his driveway and in front of his house) and sometimes re-plows other people back in. Today someone parked in front of his driveway because they had to move their car out of their apartment parking lot so it could be plowed. When he returned from his plowing expedition and saw this, he got out of his truck and walked up and down the road yelling "whoever f*cking parked in front of my driveway better f*cking move their car right now! Who the f*ck parked in front of my driveway!!" When the offending driveway parker came to move his car he ended up getting stuck in the snow and the yelling plow truck guy just sat there and watched.

It's hard enough to shovel all of this by hand each time, but this time the plow driver who was cleaning out the neighbor's driveway across the street pushed the snow over to our side, piling a ten foot high bank over the sidewalk I had just cleared.

Our new neighbor has a plow. He hasn't even moved into his house yet. After he plows his driveway, he goes out and plows his neighbors' driveways too. Three or four different houses, mine included. Always a surprise to see him do it. Such a kind and generous thing to do! When I can finally walk to his front door again, I'll bring him cookies and beer!

Readers, what's your hero or zero story? Please do share.

Here's mine: During this season's first blizzard, a tow truck driver towed away the van, which has handicapped plates, from the handicapped spot in front of the group home for disabled people next door to us. All he had to do was ring the bell and ask them to move the van. But no — the home got stuck with $250 in towing bills. Not kind.


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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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