The guy who plowed my driveway and I had a disagreement over what it means to be a snowplow driver.
In my view, the job was all about showing up on time and removing snow from the driveway.
He saw things much differently.
In his view, time played no role – but the sound, power and fury of plowing did. He would storm into my yard two days late and launch a shock and awe campaign against the hedges, bird-baths, yard gnomes and patio furniture. After he had spent his rage, he would gouge a long brown scar across my lawn, leaving the driveway untouched.
We quickly parted ways. I guess, he just wasn’t cut out for the job.
Which got me thinking.
While it is wise to avoid stereotypes, sometimes stereotypes work surprisingly well. Some people fit their careers so perfectly it is almost like they were born into it. I knew a girl in third grade, who was more of a teacher than our nun and no one was surprised when she went into education. I have worked with cops who you could not imagine being anything else.
It works the other way around too.
We all know the barista who is really an actor or the football coach who dreams of being a general or even the general who yearns to a football coach – but these people are rarely happy. They are often ill-suited for what they do.
Which brings me to my snow blower.
After firing my snowplow driver, I went out and bought a blower – and have been struggling with it ever since. I am not sure my snow blower really wants to be what it is. Its heart seems to be elsewhere.
When I pull the chord to start it, the little guy complains endlessly how he would rather sleep in. Once I get him moving, he coughs and stutters and meanders aimlessly down the driveway, picking at the snow the same way a petulant child pokes at a glob of spinach.
So I called my buddy Stan.
Stan can fix anything because he knows what machines want. You might say he is a machine whisperer.
“What’s the problem?” Stan asked.
“My snow blower is not cut out to blow snow,” I said.
Stan appeared skeptical, so I expounded on my theory.
You see, things like snow blowers are made from generic parts. The engine could just as easily go into a lawn-mower or even a go-cart. The same goes for the wheels. It is only when all of these parts come together that the machine realizes what it has become – and perhaps that is when my blower got depressed. Maybe it really wanted to be something else. Something that does not spend the joyous months of summer locked away in a dank shed and only allowed out in the lonely depths of winter.
As I prattled on and on, I watched Stan cradle the engine in his hands and run his fingers over the cables and wires. He gently rocked the blower back and forth and whispered to it as he does all of his machines.
“So what’s the prognosis,” I asked, “is it depressed or maybe caught up in some forbidden desire?”
“Naw,” he said, ”you are reading too much into it.”
He made a few adjustments then pulled the chord and the snow blower chirped to life.
“The problem,” Stan said, “was the technician who set it up. The guy did a horrible job. People like that should find a new line of business.”