The way it was snowing last week, I figured I'll be seeing Dolton by the weekend.
Well, I haven't seen him yet, but I can see his handiwork.
I met Dolton after the first snowfall this winter. I'd gotten home from work that evening, trudged through the six inches of snow in my driveway and started to pull out the shovel. This kid pulled up on a four-wheeler with a blade attached.
"Want me to do your driveway?" he asked from behind a full-face helmet.
He pulled off the helmet and I was looking at this kid maybe in his early teens, tall as me and not done growing. Then I looked and my 30 feet of driveway and told him, "Have at it."
Now, I've hired kids to do my snow removal in the past. I always ended up doing it over again myself. And the next snowfall, the kid who'd done the crappy job the first time never even bothered to show up again and I'd think, "just as well." I had no reason to think this would be any different.
I went in the house as the four-wheeler headlights bounced and swerved all over the driveway. About 20 minutes later I could hear boots pounding on the porch and a knock at the door.
The driveway actually looked pretty darn good.
"What's your name?"
"OK, Dolton. How's $10?"
"Sure." A slight grin grew across his face.
"Hey, Dolton. You live around here?"
"Just up that way." He pointed up the street, to where I couldn't tell.
I handed him another $5. "You come back and I'll pay you again. We got a contract?"
His grin got bigger. "OK. Sure." We shook hands. We had a contract.
The next snowfall I had been in Anchorage for the weekend. I came back to a driveway cleared wide enough to land a deHavilland Beaver. Pretty impressive, I thought. But this couldn't have been Dolton. I thought the landlord had come by with a plow, but she said no.
Two days later a snowmachine pulled up the driveway. I heard boots pounding on the porch and a knock at the door. It was Dolton.
"I came by - twice," he said, motioning to the drive, his voice muffled behind his full-face helmet.
I handed him a $20 and he roared off.
I haven't seen Dolton since. But a few evenings ago, after last week's heavy snowfall, I came home from work and, sure enough, Campbell Air Field was open for business again, ready for more Beavers.
I still have no idea who Dolton is or where he lives or even what his last name is. I don't even know if I'm spelling his name correctly, and those sorts of things usually matter a lot to a journalist.
I don't know how to get hold of him and have no way to tell his parents how impressed I am with his industriousness and his work ethic.
One thing I do know, however. Dolton and I have a contract, iron-clad. We shook hands.
And his parents probably know all that good stuff about him anyway.
Larry Campbell is the executive editor at the Clarion.
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