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The Shovel, the Sidewalk and the Sleuth
Alternate title: Screw YOU old lady

The face of this child has been altered to protect his identity for his own safety.




I strolled out my front door as I often do in the afternoon to grab some herbs and spy on the neighbours, when I spotted what appeared to be some sort of crime scene.  Hiding behind a birds nest and a broomstick, I braved a closer look.  I was sleuthing.  Which is one who sleuths.

It was as I thought.  It wasn’t a violent scene.  There was no blood, no broken limbs, no shattered glass … but what I saw that afternoon from the cover of my front porch was equally horrifying.

There stood a young boy with a shovel counting money.  A LOT of money.   1 … 2 … 3 … 4 …  5 … 6 dollars.  Yes, this kid definitely counted out $6 into his luxurious and possibly imported mitten.

How would such a young child get such luxurious mittens?  And $6?  It didn’t make any sense.  And why was he carrying a shovel?  Was it a weapon?  Or was he injured and using the shovel as a makeshift cane?  Or possibly it wan’t makeshift at all.  Possibly shovels were the new Tamagatchi or My Little Pony or whatever  kids are collecting these days.

And then it dawned on me (5 hours later).  He had shovelled for money.  FOR MONEY.

In that moment my world went black and swirling.

You see, the driveway that young boy shovelled, belonged to my neighbour.   The same neighbour whose driveway we have been shovelling for the past decade.

For free.

We’d been swindled.  By a grey haired old lady.  We were the victims of crime.


$6????  For shovelling 1 cm of snow??   And it wasn’t even cold out?

SCREW YOU OLD WOMAN (who makes candies for us every Christmas packaged in pretty boxes with tissue paper).



You know who could use $6??  ME.  That’s right!  This gal right here at the end of my thumbs.  Or the fella!   I’m sure he could use $6 too.  


So we did the only thing we could do.

We invoiced her.



Microsoft Word - InvoiceFinal.doc



As for the little boy?  After an exhaustive search we found him.   He don’t work this corner no more.

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68 Comments | Filed Under: Everything Else, Outdoor |

68 Responses to The Shovel, the Sidewalk and the Sleuth
Alternate title: Screw YOU old lady

  1. Christina says:

    I love it!!!!

  2. Kat says:

    You better be careful Karen winter makes people do funny things. For example just this winter in Edmonton a lady had to go to court for hitting her male neighbor 3 times with her snow shovel (plastic blade). She got probation, community work and had to go to anger management classes! Winter makes people do funny things!!!

  3. Kat says:

    And all he did was get snow on her driveway when he shoveled his side!

  4. kel m says:

    Now that’s my kinda humor!

  5. Feral Turtle says:

    You showed that kid! LOL

  6. Moe says:

    Hahahaha.. where on earth do you come up with this stuff, especially the #5 screw and 1/2 a kit kat bar ?? OMG.. too funny.

  7. Jamieson says:

    No tax?

  8. says:

    You are too funny. Thanks for the hearty laughs early this am.

  9. Another Karen B says:

    Way to “stick” to the man! Or in this case stickin’ it to the geriatic and small child.

  10. Diane says:

    Tsk tsk! How could you have let this happen Karen? Such a violation right under your nose. I’m shocked and appalled!

  11. Emily says:

    I look for your post in my email box first thing each morning once I get to work…love your stories! Thanks for the laugh!

  12. If the boy didn’t get a gratuity why should you. I think you stepped over the line charging the gratuity.

  13. Paul says:

    You forgot to include self-worth. Just think of how good you felt shoveling all that snow for the little old lady next door!

    Think of how good that made you feel being able to do something for another person in need.

    What is that worth?

    That’s the invoice you give to the crotchety person on the other side of you who never waves, never smiles and causes you to gossip about them to the old woman next door.

  14. marilyn says:

    hahahaha good one!

  15. Jim Barry says:

    You charge too little. I charge $25 per cm. LOL

    Seriously though… you forgot to charge HST. So now you have to pay that to the CRA. 10622.10 x 15% = 1593.32

    Now you only have 9028.88. But wait, you’ll have to pay income tax on the 10622.10 @ let’s say 30% so now you are down to 7435.47.

    You didn’t invoice for any massage therapy… ummmm, I mean chiropratic visit. Bills you might have incurred over the 10 yrs. Probably a couple G’s there.

    Now you only have 5435.47 left. And because you didn’t claim the income over those 10 yrs, CRA is gonna ping you with interest and penalties.


    There goes the rest.

    Better off sayin’ nuthin’ and simply have a smile on your face after you hang up telling the CRA that the kid is participating in the underground economy.

  16. Ann says:

    I guess no one else has posted cause they are still spitting coffee out thru their noses!!

  17. MelissaM says:

    That kid isn’t even wearing a scarf, which means it’s warm enough that the snow would have melted by mid-day. Pfft. The woman was had! (Obvs, not as “had” as you and the fella, for shore, but had none the less.)

    Good day, I say to you! Good day!

  18. Jodi T. says:

    Ahahahahahhhhhh! “he don’t work this corner no more”. Hilarious :) Thanks for the laugh!

  19. Valerie says:

    This is hilarious! You should definitely give it to her! She will think twice before paying that boy with the nice gloves.

  20. Cindy Marlow says:

    At an average of $1062 per year, this is NOT a very lucrative business. I say you hire the boy for $6 per 2cm as a subcontractor (you can require more shoveling as it is a steady gig) and pocket the rest like a child labor camp owner would.

  21. Reg says:

    Hooray for the enterprising young lad. In my neighbourhood there doesn’t seem to be any young fellas or fellarettes willing to take a walk up the street looking for driveways to shovel. Are they all busy texting their friends hoping for a snow day?
    Back in the day, the neighbourhood kids would try to outdo each other in how much they could earn shovelling sidewalks and such. Guess it’s not cool anymore, or allowances are too generous?

    Next snowfall, this old lady will still look up the street for a young man or young girl with a shovel and hopeful look. I believe in supporting local entrepreneurialism.

  22. Keelea L says:

    I <3 the required gratuity!

  23. Manisha says:

    A couple of young men approached me the other day and offered to shovel our front walk for $5. Being frugal (and somewhat stupid) I declined. Three days later I’m still thinking about them. The next time they come around I’m going to hire them. Good for them for going out and trying to make money, instead of breaking into our garage to steal bikes as a way to make some fast cash. I should really support this sort of behavior!

  24. Brenda J. M says:

    A blast! Like a cold draft of air from under my door…good on ya’. If she doesn’t pay-up, you pull a “Grumpy old Man” deal and water the porch, steps…whatever. A broken hip will change her tune.

  25. Theresa says:

    LOL, very cool!

  26. Kim from Milwaukee says:

    I can’t stop laughing. You are too f-ing hilarious Karen!

  27. cc says:

    You are hysterica Karenl, and I love the invoice from the fella. Lets hope the old lady does not have a computer and read your Blog and you screaming the words SCREW YOU OLD WOMAN… you are tooo funy

  28. Doris says:

    I am unsubscribing from your website feed. I am appalled at your tirade and response. I am glad you are not my neighbor. Paying a willing young person to do a chore is not a crime. It is a wonderful thing for both the giver and the young child. Doing a service for a neighbor free of cost is a gift. Once a gift is given the act is complete. You are the one at fault for rescinding your willful gift of service. How dare you condescend an elder person. The law is not on your side, and know the law regarding gifting. Your title of this post and the content makes me nauseous.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Oh my God Doris. It’s a joke. But please … still unsubscribe. Because I agree with you on one point. This is NOT the place for you. ~ karen

    • Karen says:

      In fact. I have a hunch you’ll have trouble unsubscribing, so I’m taking the initiative and doing it for you. ~ karen

      • Brie says:

        I whole-heartedly hope *Doris was joking…. wow. What, is she new here? Is this her first ride on the Art of Doing Stuff? Holy shit! I’m still laughing at the post, and the laughing has only increased after reading her response. Jeeze.

      • Nancy Blue Moon says:


    • karenagain says:

      I like Doris-type people. Let her stay please. She’s like the people who write serious letters to the editor about April Fool’s Day Prank Headlines.

  29. Shauna says:

    So hilarious! Wow, Doris obviously hasn’t been around these parts for very long or else she’d realize (1) your sarcasm knows no bounds, and (2) you’re actually an incredibly giving person who, by all accounts is quite on good terms with the ‘old lady next door’.

    I feel sorry for people who take life so seriously. Poor Doris.

  30. Jeannie B says:

    So funny Karen. Good for the kid though, making six bucks. Can’t say that I’ve seen any kids out, asking to shovel snow, for decades on our street. Your next door neighbour’s name isn’t Doris, is it?

  31. Linda says:

    hahahahaha….*wipes away tears*….and THAT’S why you won the Ninjamatics 2012 Funniest Blog Award!!!

    Poor Doris, she’s going to miss our Canadian ray of sunshine….

    umm….your mother’s name isn’t Doris, is it?

  32. Pati says:

    Karen, you never cease to amaze me !! Just when I think you’ve exhausted all the avenues of hilarity,you come up with something new and innovative !!!! LOLOL !!!

  33. Elizabeth says:

    This is unrelated to anything, but I saw this recipe and thought of you! It’s labeled as “paleo”!

  34. Marti says:

    All very fine and dandy until the Old Lady turns you into the Local Revenuers. At least that’s what would happen here in Capitol of the Universe of Silly Tax Laws (the Washington DC area).

    You put an invoice to ink like that, with backdates and all, hand it out and the very next thing Old Lady does is call her son-in-law (turns out he works for the Dept. of Taxation) who arrives 15 minutes later with your bill for operating a business out of your driveway. Your tax bill, oddly enough, could be expected to be exactly 117.99929% of the invoice you gave out, including all taxes, backdated licensing fees and fines, future dated licensing fees, and fines.

    Yep, you’d be pissed alright. Sigh.

  35. Chau says:

    Oh come on Karen. The old lady put up with your chickens. It’s the least you can do is to shove the snow, LOL

  36. toekneetoni says:

    LOVE THIS!!! You are hilarious and so are your “followers” 😀

  37. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I had something in mind to say..but I can’t stop laughing at Doris!!!!! HAHAHA..I think I just peed my panties…HAHAHAHAHHAHA..Please excuse me..I have to get down on the floor and roll around..OMG!!!

  38. Jane says:

    My kinda woman! Don’t let those conniving elderly and young hard working kids mess with your winter (lack of) sanity!! LOL

  39. Ruth says:

    LMJBO and *dead* @ the courtesy KitKat!

  40. Barbie says:

    So does the old lady read your blog?

  41. Linda says:

    I loved this – made my day!

  42. Jrn says:

    Karen- I may have asked this before but did you write a book? I’d buy it in a heartbeat!

    • Karen says:

      No. No book. Why would I write a book when I can give away my writing for free? Hey. Wait a second … ~ karen

      • Jrn says:

        Write a book. The Art of Doing Stuff is an attention grabbing title. And comedy is your forte. Among other things. So maybe it is one of your fortes?

  43. Jrn says:

    And that grumpy person reminds me of all those people who bought Harry Potter vibrating broomsticks for their kids and then had the nerve to get OUTRAGED at the manufacturers because their kids started spending unusually long periods of time in their rooms. Surely, the toy manufacturers had no idea…right?

    Anyway, people getting upset about your hilarious post…is beyond me.

  44. Barbie says:

    I thought your post was so hilarious that I had to have my husband read it! I do that when I really love something! Funny!

  45. Em Johnston says:

    So… Bye Doris. You were a good punch line.
    Karen – is this the Garlic Neighbor?!?
    And you should require that the Kit Kat be shipped directly from Hershey, PA. Nothing else comes close.

  46. karenagain says:

    There’s a weird lady on my street. She just comes and shovels whether you want it or not. She doesn’t ask for money, she just likes doing it. She does all the old people’s whole big driveways too. She also takes her dog for walks in a baby carriage. My dog would probably really like that. Maybe I could wrap him up like a baby and she could take him for a walk in the pram too.

  47. Sue T. says:

    Just catching up on my emails and read this, LOVE your stories !! I kept expecting a punch line from “Doris” but it didn’t come….
    (sad, sad, sad).

    Your two replies to “Doris” were the best part of this post !!! You got me ‘dribblin’ in my drawers’ for sure! What a great come-back to her. Thanks one more time for the laughs, and the wet pants !!!!! Sue

  48. Toronto Boy says:

    This article was pure gold! 24 karat gold! Love the details on the invoice: “Customer ID: LDYNXDR” and the list of “expenses” incurred! Hot cocoa, a kit kat bar, and a screw to boot!ROFL!

    The reaction from Doris was priceless! If I was a betting man, I would half-hazzard a guess that she is probably an older person who simply failed to recognize that the article was written in jest.

  49. West Coast Nan says:

    Hahahahaha, hilarious! Loved Doris, she’s a hoot Her comments are straight out of the 50’s.

  50. Debbie B says:

    Sneaky old broad, I wouldn’t be inclined to eat her candies next year, just sayin’

    Oh and just out of idle curiosity, where would one find a vibrating Harry Potter broomstick?

  51. Jody says:

    Hey, where’s that kid today. I’ll give him $20 to come shovel my drive and walk!

  52. Cindy says:

    Looks like there is a feud going on at my street I didn’t know about. One old guy cleared his driveway and then the old fellow that parks on the street in front of his house cleaned out his street spot beautifully and heaped it all at the end of the neighbour’s driveway. This is the problem when you work all day. You never know the neighbourhood gossip.

    • Karen says:

      That’d drive me nuts too. I’d probably do something unreasonable like shovel it all back. Into his living room. ~ karen

  53. Mary says:

    My neighbor lady paid me $25 just for getting my ladder and climbing in her upstairs window to unlock her back door. I fought with her for 30 minutes before taking the check and my ladder home. I’ve offered to shovel her sidewalk (no charge), but she apparently pays the old woman two doors down to shovel it. Oh, well.

  54. Janet says:

    Well, it was 78 degrees here today in Sarasota, Florida and I haven’t shoveled anything but mulch…do you think your neighbor kid could shovel that? Oh, Doris, don’t get your “panties” in a wad!…that’s the only great way to say that word!

  55. rktrixy says:

    You didn’t “sick” your chickens on ’em? I’m shocked! Shocked! LOL!

  56. Cricket says:

    you funny :o)
    this is my first time reading anything on your blog … think i’ll stick around for more!

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