It snowed quite a bit Monday, going well into the night. Tuesday morning I got up and instead of taking my early morning walk, I went out to shovel my front steps and sidewalk.
I was out shoveling at about 6 a.m., in the quiet darkness, when a young woman approached. It probably took some nerve on her part to approach a total stranger on a dark, bitterly cold morning, but she obviously was desperate. “Excuse me, sir!” she said. “My car is stuck. Would you mind coming down and shoveling me out?”
I looked down the street and saw that her car, which was one of those ultra-light compact cars that are about the worst snow vehicles in the world, was turned sideways and was well and truly stuck in the snow piles. “No problem,” I said. “When the weather is like this, we’ve all got to stick together.” So I went down with my shovel, let loose my inner Dad, put her behind the wheel, and shoveled and pushed and rocked the car back and forth and instructed her on cutting the wheels this way and that — not too sharp! — until we finally got her too-light car out of the snow banks and onto the ruts of the street so she could head on her way.
“Thank you soooo much!” she said several times before she puttered away in her little car, and I think she really meant it. I then went back to my shoveling.
Growing up in Akron, Ohio, I learned that you help people out when they get stuck in the snow. One time when UJ and I were little kids we went to an Akron Zips basketball game with Grandma and Grandpa Neal, a blizzard hit during the game, and we came out to an Oldsmobile that was covered in snow and buried in a drift. A bunch of men who also had come to the game came over to help us, and eventually they pushed and pulled and rocked us out to the point where we could get to the street. Their selfless act of kindness and decency made a big impression on a little kid.
Ever since that happened, I’ll gladly lend a hand to help anybody trapped by the snow. I know that the Good Samaritan acted for wholly altruistic reasons, and when it comes to the winter weather I do too — but I always like the “Good Samaritan” feeling I get when I do it, too. That young woman’s heartfelt thanks made my Tuesday a little bit better.