February 3, 2011: Let go, try sand, shoveling.

Today, walking down a slushy, snowy, side street, I walked past a guy in his car trying to get out of his driveway. But he was stuck. What did he do? He kept gunning his engine—literally, spinning his wheels. And even though it was obvious that his just-overpower-the-problem approach was not working, he continued to push his foot on the accelerator. Like maybe something magic would happen the two-hundred-twelfth time he tried it that hadn’t happened before?

Where does such stubborn inability to accept the obvious come from? My guess is that guy—middle-aged, white, flabby—doesn’t  have much experience with problem-solving without some machine being involved. Something comes up, something needs to be fixed or changed, he uses a computer, grabs a power tool. And, I’m also guessing, that means of problem-solving works for him so much of the time, the idea that he should give up on the mighty power of his car engine and do something low-tech like shoveling or throwing sand under his tires simply doesn’t occur to him.

Or maybe he just loves the smell of burning rubber.

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  1. Or he could be my down-the-street neighbor who fits that description. Hurt his back and shoulder and can’t lift anything (not even a 20lb bag of sand or kitty litter). Children grown and moved away. Most of us are at work.
    If someone is around to help, he can manage. If not, he needs to use machinery and gets pretty desperate at the situation. Especially since he is out of sick days and needs to go to work no matter how much pain or how bad the roads.

  2. Of course he could be disabled, Meg. I’d considered that, too.
    My point—which I see I didn’t make at ALL clear so thank you for pushing back—is that he/us relying on machinery to solve problems isn’t our only option. (And in this “shift the paradigm” moment, as we anticipate our post-fossil-fuel world, needs to be carefully looked at.)
    This man lives in a neighborhood with kind, helpful people living all around him ( I know these people), he lives in an urban community with multiple, free services for disabled people to get places—and there are always cabs which are pretty cheap and a fairly frequent bus that runs one block from his house—and lots of foot traffic folks walking right past his driveway who could grab a bag of sand of kitty litter.
    Which is NOT to minimize your neighbor’s pain nor his desperation nor his difficult situation.

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