|"Don't work too hard," Ruby called out facetiously to the man leaning on a shovel, cigarette hanging loosely from his lower lip. He gave a toothless grin. Ruby stepped carefully from the doorstep. Turning, she grabbed the bucket, then reached in for the grit and began scattering. It took all her strength to grit the small path.
An hour later Ruby ventured out again. The grit had done its job, the path was clear. The man was actually doing some work. A scraping noise said he was through to solid ground. Ruby retrieved her dustpan and brush and started work on the steps. The loose powder shifted easily enough, but being on her hands and knees was taking its toll. Four steps cleared and gritted and Ruby was done in.
It took Ruby all day to complete the task of snow clearing. When she finally reached the top of the steps the man was still there, still leaning on his shovel, fag in place.
"Don't work too hard, love," he said. The cheek. All he had cleared of the snow was a patch about three feet wide and maybe five feet long. He had not gritted and already a fresh coat of powder was undoing his work. A van pulled up to the kerb and the man threw his shovel in the back. He waved as he pulled away. Ruby gave him her own salute before retreating to the warm.