The Not Entirely Complete Works of Peter Schulman

©2011 Peter Schulman

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Stuck in the snow in Philadelphia

I made an unwise decision this afternoon, January 27, 2011. I turned down a street in Philadelphia that had not yet been cleared after last night's sixteen inch snow on top of a few inches that fell days before. I got stuck at the bottom.

Two residents brought their shovels to dig me out and help me try to get up the hill. Again I got good and stuck. Some people approached from a vehicle behind me. One of them looked to me like Mayor Michael A. Nutter. That's because he was Mayor Nutter.

He and those with him along with the two residents discussed the situation, made suggestions and over the course of the next ten to fifteen minutes helped me to extricate my car. I thank them all.

The Mayor didn't make suggestions and then direct anyone to do anything. He took up a shovel and cleared away snow and chunks of ice and later switched shovels to break up chunks of ice to be removed. He also helped push the car to get me to a point where I could drive off.

I don't know where the Mayor was headed, but I have no doubt he could have bypassed me to get there easily. He didn't know who I was, whether I voted for him or if I was even a resident of Philadelphia. There was nothing in it for him except for the satisfaction one gets from helping others.

Being a mayor or governor these days can be a largely thankless task. They are saddled with a weak economy and dwindling revenues without a matching decline in financial obligations. The situation may not be of their making, but they are judged as if it were when trying to reduce costs.

The volume of snow this winter and the costs of removing it far exceeded the money allocated. I don't respond to my getting stuck by saying, "Well, they should have cleared the streets." Not just Philadelphia, but many governments in this situation do what they can with what they have. To expect more is unrealistic and cynical.

I have heard Mayor Nutter speak and I believe he is sincere and wants to do his best to handle the City's problems. But I believe that more important than what a man says is what he does.

I made an unwise decision this afternoon and was, atypically, rewarded by seeing the character of a man through how he acted. You will not agree with everything he does, but I have confidence he is making decisions for the right reasons.