This is a little bit ranty, sorry!
I live in the midwest, where we have been hammered repeatedly by snow storms dropping several inches of the white stuff at a time. Last weekend we had a doozy-it was the wettest, heaviest snow I have ever tried to clear. Then it sleeted and froze into a sheet of ice on top. Then it snowed the next day. You get the idea.
A couple of months ago we bought a new snowblower. We have a fairly long, steep driveway, and we knew our old blower wasn't going to make it through the season. We bought early so we could get one on sale and still have our pick of bells and whistles, like a headlight. Trust me, we have moved more snow in the dark than in the daylight.
We also happen to live in the kind of neighborhood where people help each other. It's not unusual to see the same three guys (one of them my husband) helping to dig out someone else's mailbox, especially if that other person is elderly, etc. We are also very close with the next door neighbors and lend things back and forth a lot. William is the kind of guy that returns things in better condition, filled with gas, etc. He is usually one of those guys helping the neighbor. We used to be somewhat close with another couple but their repeated use and abuse of our stuff is one reason we have limited contact with them now. Dave always returns things broken and never replaces them. You get the idea. And no, he is not one of the guys you see out helping the elderly neighbor with her driveway.
So last weekend I sent dh out to clear at least part of the driveway while I got ready to go. I needed to be at a friend's to take care of her cats while she was in the hospital. William sees hubby out there and sheepishly comes over-the snow was too heavy and killed his decrepit snowblower, and could dh do the end of his driveway? For those of you unfamiliar, the end of the driveway is usually the heaviest, most packed-down, deepest snow because the snowplow shoves it all in. Dh finished just enough of our driveway for me to go and went next door to help William. The whole time he's working, William is helping break stuff up and tidying up after the blower. (He's a little anal retentive about it, but hey, it's his driveway!) And Dave sees all of this and asks dh to help him with the end of *his* driveway. Which dh does, because he's a nice guy. Dave does actually help by also breaking up the heavy stuff, which is a Christmas miracle.
The problem is, and I expressed this to dh, is that while William will either repair or replace his snowblower as quickly as possible, Dave will see this as a free service and why should he buy a snowblower when the neighbor has that shiny new one? And while William insisted on filling it up with gas to replace what was used, that never even occured to Dave. And when dh came back to our house to finish (which took at least another hour to an hour and a half), William came and helped. I helped, and I have a bad back. Dave managed to wave at us when he drove by, and again five minutes later when he came home and went inside.
So since then we've had at least two or three more snowfalls. Yesterday was another doozy and we got maybe four inches or so. Dh went after it when he came home early. William is still without a snowblower. First he tried to repair the old one and found it was not possible to fix. And everywhere that sells them is out of stock. So dh helped him again, and again William helped back and filled the thing up with gas, even though we told him he doesn't have to. And sure enough, when Dave came home he drove by and asked dh to clear out the end of his driveway again. Dh said yes, and then watched as Dave slammed his car up over the snow, packing it in really well, and then went inside!
I told dh that next time he just has to say no. I realize that it is easier said than done. I mean, he's out there helping other neighbors and to say no is probably going to cause some small social problems. But the alternative is to continue to be taken advantage of, and I hate to see my normally assertive husband let this yahoo walk all over him. I told dh to tell him "I'm afraid that won't be possible". Please join me in hoping that he actually says it.