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Recently, we in Edmonton were welcomed into spring with a storm that dumped 30cm (12”) of snow. I fired up my snowblower to clear the walks. My garage is behind the house, so I had to bring the snowblower through a gate to the front. I got to the gate and tried to open it. Wouldn’t budge. I didn’t notice at first, but a buildup of ice and snow on the ground and around the hinges prevented easy opening. I cleared the snow by hand and tried to chip away the ice. In a moment of great frustration, with the snowblower whirling beside me, I gave the gate a violent yank. Crack. The gate frame came away from the hinge, broken. Not only did I foolishly damage my gate, I now had no easy way to get the snowblower to the front. The only thing I could do was take the snowblower through the alley and around the block. And if I was doing that, I figured I might as well clear my neighbour’s walks along the way. My impatience and lack of foresight had produced an act of ostensible kindness. However, the extra distance covered in my journey burned more fuel than usual. Also, the sheer volume of snow meant that the blower’s motor was under a greater-than-normal load, burning slightly more fuel. Had I remembered to check the fuel level before setting out? Of course not, I’m just doing my walks. Guess what? Choke, sputter, clang, stop. Out of gas 2/3 of the way through the job. Nice.

In all, this snow clearing episode was a lesson in humility, patience, and the importance of considering dependencies, which in this case were:

  1. Make sure the snowblower has enough fuel
  2. Make sure the gate can be opened

How many times have you started out thinking that a task was “easy” only to be blindsided by unseen or unaccounted-for dependencies that you should have been aware of? I guess that old “fool me twice” idiom takes a while to sink in for some of us.

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