You’re a mean one, Mr. Porch Shovel Stealer

Published 9:31 am Friday, November 28, 2014

Things I Tell My Wife by Matt Knutson

“There’s a special place in hell reserved for people who steal snow shovels in Minnesota,” I told my wife after realizing ours was no longer on the back porch.

I had literally used it once this year to clear a path for the dog, and it was now gone. What kind of world did we live in?

Email newsletter signup

Ever since my family’s home was broken into when I was in high school, I’ve been unusually cautious about locking doors, windows and anything else to prevent theft. When living in small-town Iowa, I was the one frequently reminding friends to lock their car doors.

I’d walk through the grocery store parking lot in winter incredulously, wondering why all these fools would leave their vehicles running, ripe for the taking. Why in the world would I leave my shovel in such a vulnerable place?

Our backyard is unusual because it actually backs up to a busy road and bike trail. Because of the monthly neighborhood association fee, we don’t have to do any mowing or shoveling, except if we want our back porch cleared. Because I don’t love our dog’s feet leaving snow puddles throughout the house, I decided it was time to shovel, and that I’d make Sera happy by leaving the snow-removal device on the back porch instead of bringing it through the house to put in the garage (creating even more snow puddles).

Did I briefly think there was a possibility that I’d never see this shovel again? Honestly: Yes. I quickly erased that thought from my mind when I thought about the expensive grills our neighbors have in addition to the easily stealable patio furniture, which has never gone missing. Surely the Grinch wouldn’t go for my shovel.

Except now it wasn’t where I left it, and that feeling of being violated crept over me. When you think of someone being in your house (or in this case, on our porch), sneaking around, and taking what isn’t theirs, I get a spooky feeling.

It’s not cool to steal, especially shovels in the middle of an early winter!

Sera and I are legitimately the kind of people who, if you knocked on our door and asked for a shovel, we’d give you ours. But taking it off our back porch is unforgiveable.

Well, I thought it was unforgiveable. At some point in every married couple’s lives, I hope they’re able to draw comparisons between sitcom marriages and the miscommunications that naturally occurs in their own marriage. It turns out that someone had taken our shovel off the back porch, but our Grinch looked a lot like my wife.

“I moved the shovel to the garage,” Sera confessed after I finally decided to tell her that a stranger had been on our porch.

Purposefully, I had kept this information from her for a bit, knowing it would make her feel incredibly unsafe. Her revelation meant a night of me planning on installing a home security system had gone to waste. My plans to alert the local police about a potential crime spree and putting an angry sign on the porch were now nothing but memories.

Sera’s “theft” was simply her actively trying to be a good wife, putting away what she had assumed her husband had forgotten. I can’t blame her for her action, because quite honestly, I’m always forgetting to put things away. I readily admit that my memory is the first thing going with my age (and I’m only 25).

I still stand by my words that there is a special place in hell for people who steal snow shovels in Minnesota. We get tons of snow, and those shovels are valuable! Whoever thinks it is an okay item to steal should try clearing my back porch without one. That being said, I’ve definitely learned a few things upon reflecting on the shovel incident earlier this week:

1. Don’t leave things outside unless you don’t mind them disappearing. 2. Wise people don’t jump to conclusions. 3. Communication will always be important to a successful marriage. 4. Your wife won’t like being compared to the Grinch when you let her read your column.


Rochester resident Matt Knutson is the communications and events director for United Way of Olmsted County.