When I first moved onto the block where I now live, over a decade ago, there was a neighbor up the street with a snowblower. And the minute that a snowstorm came in, he would be out there with his snowblower, just about as happy as he could be.
The reasons I noticed him were because a) snowblowers are very loud, and b) I was out there clearing my sidewalk with a shovel. This probably wasn’t the case, but whenever the snow was heavy, the snowblower sounded even louder than usual. Clearing a path along a sidewalk can be strenuous work, and I’ve heard of people who had heart attacks while shoveling snow. But that hasn’t happened to me yet, fortunately.
That neighbor of mine, who I actually never met in person, sold his house and moved away a few years ago. And now the snowfall, like the one we had yesterday, is strangely silent. I’m still out there with my shovel, as my suggestions that a snowblower would be a great Father’s day gift have thus far fallen on deaf ears. And I miss that snowblower, in some strange way. I’ll never miss the backaches I get from shoveling snow–although I’d like to very much–but I miss that noisy reminder of something I don’t have.
I envied that guy up the street for having a snowblower. I wanted to be able to walk through the snow, no matter how deep it got, and have the machine do the heavy lifting for me. I’m generally not given to wanting something that others have, but that guy and his snowblower are a clear exception. It doesn’t make it right to feel that way, but that’s the truth.
I bring this up, while my wet socks are drying off and my backache still burns hot from another round of shoveling this morning, because I got to thinking about something Mitt Romney has recently said about envy. I don’t like bringing politics here, but this one is personal to me.
Romney’s claim that people don’t like him because they’re envious is simply not true. However many houses and cars he has is just fine with me. I don’t want any of it, because I have no problem with my present house (singular) and cars (plural, but just barely). I don’t want his life, and he surely doesn’t want mine. But for him to suggest that I do seems completely unfair to me, and probably to others who may feel the same way.
I once envied a guy’s snowblower because shoveling snow makes my back hurt. His house, and his cars, and whatever else he had in his life were of no concern to me. But Mitt Romney thinks I–and millions of other people he’ll never meet–want to have his life instead of our own. That presumption says a lot about him, and none of it is good.