Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Neighbor Who Doesn't Smile

I have a neighbor who doesn't smile. The other neighbors don't know his name. They all say he's grumpy and keeps to himself. But every time I see him, or pass him on the road, I smile and wave. He never smiles back. And it doesn't matter, I smile and wave.

This morning I knew I was waking up to almost 3 feet of snow. Dreading the day of nothing but shoveling ahead, all my head could focus on was making coffee. As I waited for the glorious machine to let me know that the elixir of life was ready, it occurred to me that I was hearing a humming. The humming of a motor. Could it be possible that by some fluke the snow plows were actually clearing our cul-de-sac? I crept to the window and peeked out.

There was my non-smiling neighbor, with his snow blower, clearing out my driveway and a path to my door. His house and my house across the cul-de-sac, and a little way up the pipe stem he cleared.

Once dressed, I went out to contribute to the snow shoveling efforts. My non-smiling neighbor was cleaning his snow blower to put it away. I went up to him and smiled. I introduced myself and thanked him for clearing my driveway and making a path to my door. With a slim cigar clamped in his teeth, he told me his name is Tom. And I could tell in an instant.

I grew up with a neighbor named Bob. And elderly gentleman. Who seemed gruff and stand-offish, when really, he was painfully shy. And that was who Tom reminds me of. Tom has a slight studder and struck me as being very shy. Not grumpy, cold, or a bad neighbor. Just shy and a little solitary. And he was caring enough to take pity on the single woman living alone and cleared her driveway.

I have a neighbor named Tom. And I will smile every time I see him, whether or not he smiles back.


  1. It pays to be nice to all your neighbors. Mine used his snow blower to dig out the elderly neighbors first and then did my walkway. Grin.

  2. Katie is right - it truly does pay to be nice to people. And today, he remembered that kindness.

    My Dad was working on the elderly neighbor first with his snowblower, then the family across the street. The lady across the street even brought my folks chili as a thank you!