Earlier this week, I briefly considered having that guy from Capitol Hill with the aggressive space-saving sign write a guest piece for the D.C. Sports Bog about why he so aggressively protected his parking space from his neighbors and enemies.
Competitive snow parking is sort of a sport, I figured. So is chasing Web traffic during a blizzard that has canceled everything else.
But our Metro department was interested in writing about the legendary Mr. Bergman, and so I ceded ground, but not before bewailing the lost opportunity and asking my Metro comrades to pass along some fluffy sports ideas.
One of said colleagues suggested asking famous local athletes how they’ve dealt with the snow. Having done this job for close to a decade now (#old), I knew a few things about this story idea. One: that I’ve probably done it every time it snowed before. Two: that other sports reporters would be doing the same thing. And three: that an item about why Brooks Laich owns a snowblower would not attract nearly as many eyeballs as a story about a bearded gent on Capitol Hill with an extremely aggressive sign protecting his shoveled turf.
But then I stumbled into an interview in which Brooks Laich was asked about his charitable snow-blowing ventures, and, well, one thing led to another. And so here we are again, friend.
Wait, no, don’t leave. Please stay.
Anyhow, maybe you saw Laich’s Instagram video in which he appeared to be moving huge quantities of snow via some sort of automated machine. Turns out that device used to belong to his former neighbors to the left, but they moved to Florida about two years ago, so they left it to his other neighbor John, but John didn’t have room in his garage to store it, and so there was Laich on Friday night, snow-blowing both his own driveway and those of something like three different neighbors.
“They’re my neighbors, man,” Laich said by way of explanation, as I remembered how many neighbors I had helped this week. (Zero). “Growing up, it was usually my dad or my brother. My brother was like the Snow Plow King of Wawota (Saskatchewan). He just did it because he loved it. He would do our driveway, he would do an elderly couple that lived right across, our neighbors. He just loved to snow plow. He would do — at least, minimum — two to three driveways in the morning before school, just because he liked to do it.”
So now Laich is the Snow Plow King of Arlington, except actually his snow blower broke after he set in on the neighborhood again Saturday morning. Luckily, his neighbors John and Jean had the whole neighborhood over for a blizzard break Saturday night, in which everyone “ate like kings and drank [water and various other non-alcoholic beverages] like kings,” and then at 10:30, in the dead of night, everyone went outside together and shoveled everybody’s driveways again. This is taking a little bit of Wawota to Northern Virginia, I’d imagine. It’s kind of nice to think about.
Speaking of which, Karl Alzner also talked about snow removal. Like so many optimistic types, Alzner relished seeing blocks coming together to bond in this unusual time: people introducing each other, people involving in group activities, screens left behind. He probably wouldn’t have liked space-saving signs, I’m guessing.
“I was outside as much as I could be,” Alzner said. “I was trying to keep up with all the shoveling. And I feel like it’s fun, because everybody’s out there and you’re mingling with all your neighbors, ones you haven’t quite met. But with a little girl, just over a year, it’s hard to really play in the snow, so we were stuck inside for the two days like most people, not doing a whole lot. And days drag on a little bit.”
Alzner, of course, is one game away from setting the franchise mark for consecutive games played, which meant a strained back from too much snow, or a stray shovel launched into his spleen, could have been disastrous.
“It’s funny, too, because I’d be shoveling, trying to shovel a path out for my truck, and people would be walking by and saying you shouldn’t be doing that, let someone else do it for you,” Alzner said. “I guess it’s cool to see how many people are actually paying attention to that, that I never would have expected. …
“We were walking past the hill where everyone was sledding. One of the parents was saying ‘Now that we know you live here, we feel much better about our neighborhood, we think it’s a cool neighborhood.’ And I was like, ‘Well, I don’t know if me being here means it’s cool. I think I moved here because you guys were here,’ and they all thought that was kind of nice.”
It is kind of nice, really. And so, you see? The snow may icily drive some of us apart, but it can also melt and then reform into heart-shaped clumps of community-building slush, bonding young men from Canada with their newfound, non-angrily-protected homes.
And please, do not treat this as an invitation to leave your comment on just what you think the Caps should do with Laich’s contract. Have some class.