I had a pretty humbling experience this morning. For those of you who may not know, I live in Michigan. Even though today is April 6th, we had a pretty large snow storm full of wet and slushy snow. Regardless of the snowfall and current road conditions, I drove as if there were no snow at all. I mean, I do have a 1999 Kia Sportage and all.
So as I was driving, I somehow hit a very slippery and very thick pile of snow and ended up skirting off the side of the road down a hill into somebody’s yard. For some reason, the incident didn’t really scare me, it just annoyed me a bit. I sat there for a second, then arrogantly put my car into 4X4, figuring I could easily get myself out of the yard. I eased onto the gas pedal, but I wasn’t going anywhere. I kind of sighed, and then hopped out of my car to further investigate the situation. I apparently had skidded pretty hard and had really dug myself into not only the snow, but also the grass and dirt.
I packed some snow under my wheels to get some extra traction, and tried again. I still wasn’t budging. I started thinking about how I was probably going to have to call my roommate and wake him up to come help me out. And I started thinking about how I was going to be late for work. And I started thinking about how much it was going to cost me if I needed to get a tow truck.
I got out of my car to try packing the snow again. And I was jamming some snow, grass, and dirt under my front tire, a car stopped on the road and the window rolled down. A middle-aged woman stuck her head out and asked, “Are you alright?” I told her I was fine and was about to ask if she’d mind pushing the gas pedal while I pushed from behind when she interrupted and said, “Oh, I can’t help you. Bye.” And she drove away.
I got back in my car and eased onto the gas again to see if I could get traction this time. I still wasn’t moving. I saw the snowplow coming down the street. I started to get mixed feelings of hope and devastation, because I knew he could either help me or just plow right by and cover me in more snow. To my relief, he pulled over and rolled down his window. “Do you have a place to hook a chain?” he asked. I ignorantly told him I had no idea. He got out of his truck and bent down in the front of my car to check. He pointed to a place on the chassis and told me to put the hook there. He got back in his truck, positioned it right in front of my car, and then pulled out a huge chain and handed one end to me. I hooked it up the spot he had pointed out, got in my car, and put it in neutral. He slowly drove backward and gently pulled me out of my rut.
As soon as my car was back on the road, we both got out and unhooked the chain. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so eager to shake someone’s hand. I thanked him and gave him a wave as he drove away.
As I continued my drive to work (much more carefully, I might add), I started really thinking about the whole situation and how that really translates to life. A lot of us are like that lady that stopped to ask if I was alright, but wasn’t really willing to help. That’s kind of like how when we see someone in need or in pain, we say things like, “I’ll pray for you,” and leave it at that. We don’t really want to get involved, we don’t want to take time out of our life to help. We convey condolences and pretend to be empathetic, but just carry on with our lives.
On the other hand, here was this guy that was in the middle of doing his job, and he just stopped to help me out. He didn’t ask me if I needed help or what he could do, he just stopped and did it. That’s really how we should be. We should actively take time out of our lives to help people we find that are in need. We should show them that we care, not just tell them.
This incident could have really affected my day and really turned it into a disaster. I could have been significantly late to work, and I could have been out a couple hundred dollars for a tow truck. But since this guy decided to stop for five minutes to give me a hand, he turned a could-be disaster into a minor setback.
This was the first time anything like this has happened to me. I’m actually the type of guy that sees people on the side of the road in a snow bank and just thinks, “Well that idiot couldn’t control their own car!” I sometimes think about stopping, but rarely actually follow through. I think that after this morning, I’m going to be a lot more compassionate when I see that, and also a lot more active in helping them out.
I guess this April snow wasn’t so bad after all.