Neither rain, nor sleet, nor life-threatening blizzards could stop two New Jersey high schoolers from heading out into their blustery neighborhood and making a quick buck off of the snow.
In the midst of their business, young entrepreneurs Eric Schnepf and Matt Molinari, both 18 years old, ran into an unprecedented obstacle and no, it wasn’t frostbite. It was the police.
Seizing upon the opportunity of the recent Nor’easter -- the large blizzard that threatens to shut down most of America’s east coast -- the pair set off into various neighborhoods in their town of Bound Brook Monday evening, handing out fliers promoting their snow shoveling business, according to My Central New Jersey. The two had to stop, though, when a police officer pulled them over.
According to city law, solicitors of their nature must be licensed in order to continue operation of their business.
However, this was not the reason the pair was pulled over. According to Police Chief Michael Jannone of the Bound Brook Police Department, the two were not issued a citation or arrested, but were stopped because of concerns of them being outside in dangerous conditions.
“We don’t make the laws but we have to uphold them,” Chief Jannone told the newspaper. “This was a state of emergency. Nobody was supposed to be out on the road.”
He went on to emphasize that the police has no interest in stopping kids from shoveling people’s driveways and walkways. According to him, the law was made to protect citizens from con men and scam artists.
“The spirit of the ordinance is to protect residents from gypsy activity,” he told reporters. “People will solicit door-to-door and target the elderly and get into their house.”
He said that the two high schoolers' fliers were enough to show him that they were not up to dastardly deeds.
“People doing something illegal probably won’t extend this much identifying information,” he said.
Community response to the police’s actions against the boys has been overwhelming. A neighbor who saw Schnepf being questioned by police posted about the incident on social media.
“Are you kidding me?” he wrote on a city Facebook page. “Our generation does nothing but complain about his generation being lazy and not working for their money. Here’s a couple kids who take the time to print up flyers, walk door-to-door in the snow, and then shovel snow for some spending money. And someone calls the cops and they’re told to stop.”
The pair are not angry about the situation though, and told reporters that the police told them that they were still allowed to shovel walkways but only if people called them to do so. They would need permission to go door-to-door.
“The cops were nice about it,” said Molinari. “They weren’t jerks. They were trying to make sure everything is OK.”
At the end of the day the two were able to make between $25 to $40 a house, hitting five houses in all. Although it seems like little money for the work, the two are happy with it.
"We don't really bargain," Schnepf said. "We help some people out and get whatever they're willing to pay."