Date of occurrence: January 27, 2011
On January 26th, a fast moving snow storm attacked the Washington, DC area gifting thousands with commute horror stories that lasted up to 13 hours. I enjoyed a nine hour journey home that day, making it home a quarter past 1 in the morning, the details of which will be the subject of a future Back Blog.
The following day, the Federal Government announced a 2 hour delayed opening, however, due to the late nights of the majority of the commuter bus drivers, the bus line that normally takes me into work was not operating, so I couldn't have made it into work even if I had wanted to.
So on this snow day, I emerged from a snow covered neighborhood to dig out our car from the parking lot so the wife and child and I could have a day out and about. While this is not a typically challenging task, the lack of a snow shovel and an ice scraper certainly makes any sort of snow clearing a bit more of a cardio workout. (But gloves I do have. Not just any gloves, but amazing glove/mitten combos that my wife gave me for my birthday last year.)
I came outside simply to survey the amount of effort the snow clearing this day would require of me, and what sort of MacGyvering I needed to do. Once I came to my car, however, there was a guy sitting in a car right behind it. The was a row of cars and behind it is the lane traffic drives through, and he was sitting there, engine running with his window down. I looked at my car and he immediately called to me "Looks like you are going to need to dig out. The snow plow got you in pretty good."
I replied, "Yeah, I'm going to go grab a shovel.. borrow one from my neighbor, hopefully.." to which he responded, "You need a shovel? I got one right here."
At this point, I immediately thought "Oh, no. He's one of those 'I just washed your windshield, now pay me now! What?! You OWE me!" types.
He proceeded to get out of his car and start digging out the mountain of snow behind my car. Not only, a dig, but a responsible dig, placing the snow in a pile away from the parked cars on the other side of the traffic lane. I started, using my glove-mittens, to carry snow off the hood of the car adding it to another pile. A few minutes in, he was on his cell phone letting whomever he was talking to know that he was in front of my building.
My next thought was, "Oh wow. This is a team of organized snow shovelers who are going to demand money. Oh no, I don't have any cash! This is going to get awkward when he is done. I think I have a Starbucks giftcard in my wallet. I will tell him something about treating himself to some coffee or something.."
He gets back to his shoveling, I get back to my snow clearing, and two of his friends show up. He was a guy in his early twenties, and a male and a female, similarly aged, friends show up. The two friends were carrying bookbags and things so it appeared they were students meeting up. The guy picking them up probably was a guy new to the neighborhood as he was waiting in front of the wrong building.
But when the friends got to my car, they joined in the snow clearing effort. Although before he started, the male friend announced, "I'm too much of a diva to help clear snow..," a minute or two into it, he joined in digging the car out.
The original guy told me to start my car and see if I could back out. I got in, turned on the car and the three of them pushed on my front bumper to help get the car rolling. Sure enough, the car easily reversed out of the spot, and even before I was able to turn off the engine, the three of them were carrying on amongst themselves, got in their car and began to drive away.
They didn't even wait for me to say thanks and they were off. I got out of my car and yelled my thanks but they didn't seem to notice.
It was definitely a moment of "Whoa, angels?" Or they could have just been a group of people who look out for their neighbors, and that's it. Nothing expected in return, just kind deeds done.
I know I thanked God for what they had done. It was just a natural reaction when folks seemingly go out of their way to help me when I needed it. Aren't we as Christians supposed to do that sort of thing? All the time? Doing things to help people so that they glorify God?
Wouldn't it be cool if we got a couple Christians driving around with shovels and an SUV looking for people digging out their cars after a snow storm with only one goal: helping others dig out? A snow day would be about helping others? Yeah, didn't think so either.
I have no idea who the people were who helped me, why the helped me, and will probably never see them again. But I will never forget them.