One day, while William shoveled the snow from his sidewalk, he noticed that the sidewalk next door hadn’t been shoveled yet, and seeing as how the snow wasn’t all that deep and he wasn’t in much of a hurry to be anywhere anyway, William shoveled his neighbor’s walk too. Besides, the neighbor and his wife were retired, and Doc, the husband, had had a heart attack last summer and maybe the exertion wouldn’t be a good idea. They called him Doc, not because of a medical background, but because he used to sell Doc Martens when he worked at the shoe store.
The next day, William heard a knock at his door. It was Doc, with a five dollar bill for shoveling the snow. William refused, but Doc wouldn’t take no for an answer, so eventually, William relented. He put the money in an envelope on his desk and didn’t think about it again until the next snow storm and Doc gave him another fiver, and so on through winter, and through the next two winters after that, even the blizzard that took two days to dig out. Each time, William accepted the money begrudgingly, and added it to the envelope.
One warm spring day, an ambulance stopped next door, and after a long time, the ambulance left, with Doc inside. William didn’t see him again, and few days later, heard the news that Doc had passed away. His widow, a somewhat reclusive woman who he always thought of as Mrs. Doc, explained that she was selling the house and moving to be closer to her children. She thanked him for all the times he shoveled their walk.
When a foreclosure notice was posted on the neighbor’s front door, William did some investigating and found that bank had repossessed the house. The mortgage far exceeded the equity of the house, and as far as he could find, Mr. and Mrs. Doc didn’t have any children.
It took some time, but William eventually found she was staying at a shelter. Remembering the envelope with the snow shoveling money, William addressed the envelope to the shelter, added some of his own money, and mailed the envelope off. It wouldn’t be enough, but hopefully, he thought, it might help.