Good neighbors check in to make sure you haven't frozen to death

By Kim M

soap box badgeHere's something new: We're pulling out the AOA soap box each Sunday for people to praise, complain, suggest, joke, or make an observation about things they see going on in the Capital Region.

New Yorkers, and Northeasterners in general, have a reputation for being a comparatively unfriendly sort, leaving some to speculate that our wintery climate is to blame for our frosty personalities.

Personally, I think it's a bunch of hogwash. All of it.

I admit I haven't particularly enjoyed this winter. I can't remember the last time I left the house in a slutty pair of heels. I'll still take the snow over a surpressingly hot and humid day though, so don't misconstrue this as a complaint. Though I would be a little happier if I could just SEE OVER THE SNOWBANKS! Okay, maybe I am complaining. Whatever. Try and stop me.

The point I'd like to make is this: We are not cold, uncaring people. And our winters certainly do not make us unkind. All this snow has shown me what great neighbors I have.

I mentioned my neighbor, Jim, last year when I attempted to explain why I think that Troy is underrated. I'm pretty sure that I would be mummifying in my house right now if it wasn't for Jim and his snowblower. Not only has he taken care of the sidewalk for me, after one storm he even snowblew snowblowed moved the snow from around my car and my tenant's car, which was parked on the other side of the street.

But I already knew that Jim was awesome like that. What I didn't expect was for another neighbor, Kevin, to notice that my car hadn't moved during one storm. He was so concerned that he called my fellow uptowner, Billie-Jean, to check on me. (I had taken the day off of work, and I assume he ran the wrong doorbell because everyone assumes the owner lives on the first floor. Not this one. Yet.) Kevin had her number after working with us on an Uptown Initiative clean-up; now THAT is how you make a difference in a neighborhood!

I believe it was the very next storm that Billie-Jean shared a similar story about her neighbors with me. One afternoon she returned home to find that someone had taken care of her driveway for her while she was at work. As highly as Billie-Jean and I think of our neighbors in Troy's North Central, I know it's not just ours who watch out for each other. I can recall my favorite pain in the @AngelosTzelepis bragging about the cat litter and shovel he keeps in his truck -- and how he used it to help a girl who got stuck trying to park in his development. My buddy Dean is always facebooking about his on-going battle with his city's snowplows. He loves to surprise his neighbors by taking care of their sidewalks and driveways. It makes his day, and reading about it makes mine.

What about you? What has our winter revealed to you? Do you have any friendly neighbor stories to share? I know I'd love to hear them.

Kim loves Troy even more than you do.


This winter I made sure to stop and look around a bit and see just how much fun winter can be. Personally I've snowshoed, XC skied, made snow angels, and did a Nestle plunge into the snow I had just shoveled off the driveway but a few weeks ago I made a quick trip to Lowes and saw pure winter joy. I was just about to get out of my car when a man, who looked like he was in his 70's, walked by with a big pink plastic sled. He was carrying it over his head with a look of pride on his face, then I noticed why. Behind him was a little girl about 6 skipping along, clapping, with a gigantic smile on her face. Grandpa bought her a sled and the two of them where clearly thrilled to go out on a winter adventure together. It made my day cause I know I just watched a memory being made all thanks to our fabulous Northeast winters. So winter's not all that bad right?

In the spirit of having good neighbors, mine are awesome. The man who lives above me spent all last winter shoveling off my car and making sure I was alright. Hell, when I first moved to Troy in October of 2008, he came by in November to make sure I had somewhere to go for Thanksgiving, inviting me in with his family.

This winter has been especially difficult, but my neighbors have been great about helping me move the snow, keeping my steps salted and breaking apart the ice that always forms in my back patio. Winter can sometimes suck, but we're in all it together.

Winters aren't too bad in the Capital Region as long as you don't have to drive or walk anywhere! I know, I know . . . we live here and should be used to it, but it does get tiring when you can't see around the corner past 9 foot snowbanks and pathways and roads are not shoveled and plowed for a couple of days after storms.
It is beautiful to look at though. I will admit yesterday morning I enjoyed looking out my window while sipping steaming coffee and delighting in how pure and untouched the winter wonderland looked in my courtyard. All the tree weres thick with snow and looked magnificent against the backdrop of my cozy little aprartment round. Some of the trees even twinkled, it was so pure clean and white.
But then when I looked at the gray, slushy mess where I knew I would have to walk to get to my car, my musing stopped and jolted me back to the realities of the long days of Northeast Winter!

as much as i hate winter - i have felt the winter love several times during this horrid, horrific, disgusting, nasty, too long season. we live in a pretty big building with decent public parking but spots are not always clear. way more than once people have offered to help me get out of my parking spots. in one case my boyfriend and i were both stuck - him out of a spot in the midde of the road and me just in a spot and someone came out of their apartment and help push him and then me out. then we helped dig him out. yay!

another time i was digging myself out and a big pickup truck with a plow stopped and cleared a ton of snow away from my car and pushed it elsewhere so i wouldn't have to dig so much. i will never forget that he said "Honey! You are going to KILL yourself if you keep doing that!" And there I thought I was just getting some cardio.

I am all for helping and it gives me a warm feeling inside to to do so. it does make this horrid, horrific, disgusting, nasty, too long season a little more tolerable.

I was schlepping my laundry basket across the street on Friday and a opposite-direction passerby helped me and my basket over the snowbank that was blocking the crosswalk. Very nice and neighborly!

Winter creates a mixed bag of friendliness and decency 'round these parts.

As a transplanted Southerner, one of the first culture shocks to me here was the lack of holding doors open. I tend to walk with my hands in my pockets, and the first month I was here, I kept winding up trapped in department store front doors, thinking the person who was two feet in front of me would hold the door. That was August. By December, I realized that holding the door for others means letting in the freezing cold.

I'm lucky to have a neighbor who helps us through the winter by telling us what we're doing wrong. We didn't know how to salt, I kept forgetting to clear the cars before shoveling the driveway and would have to do it twice, and tons of other little things that he pointed out to us that have made us winter vets in time for this apparently snow-abundant year.

Given my former novice status in the wintry Northeast, I can find it in my heart to forgive the Lansingburgh man who, as I was driving in the horrible weather on Friday morning, stepped out into the road without looking less than ten feet in front of my car. I reacted by jamming the brakes, which of course, sent me sliding sideways down the road. Knowing the roads were bad, I was going quite slow, which made it all the more embarrassing as I watched the man through my windshield cringe and mouth the word, "Sorry," as I slid past (thankfully coming to a stop without hitting anything, unlike the poor guy in the mini-van that had rear-ended the bus a few blocks up).

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