Friday, February 15, 2019

Snow Brings Out the Best in People

Many of us will mourn the loss of the snow over the region:  the ethereal beauty of the snow-covered landscape, the quietness and reduction of noise, and the excuse to disengage from the pressures of normal life.

But there is something else we will miss:  the softening of human interactions, the smiles with passing strangers, and the bonds of facing a common environmental challenge.

I experienced it during one of the early days of the snowstorm:  as I walked through the snow-clogged streets to the local supermarket, nearly everyone would smile and make a few friendly remarks--even to total strangers.  Neighbors were out in the street talking and helping each other dig out cars.  For a moment, the barriers between people had dropped.  It was wonderful.

In my neighborhood we were trapped by steep snow and ice covered hills.  On Saturday, a message went out to the local list serve...why don't we dig ourselves out?  A few hours later, over 30 residents of all ages and backgrounds started work on the steepest sections, and one even brought fresh-baked cookies for the workers.  People worked hard to open up the roads, some they would never use.  In a few hours, our neighborhood's roads were in good enough shape to give us our freedom.  But it gave us more:  as sense of community and mutual caring.

Neighbors working together on Saturday

I saw one individual not only clear the sidewalk of his own house, but did so for a whole block, and another kind individual, with a large bag of salt, worked to improve the condition of the sidewalks and steps of his neighbors.

And yes, there were long lines at food stores--but did you notice the attitudes?  There was little complaint about the wait and folks talked amiably to strangers in line.  I didn't see any anger, frustration or cutting in lines.  Folks thanked the supermarket staff for making it in and working long hours. We were all facing the snow together. And if we didn't get our favorite loaf of bread, we were pleased to get what we could.

Patience and no complaining on the food store lines

There are so many other examples.  People would get stuck in the snow and complete strangers would jump out of their cars to push them out of trouble. Others got food to the homebound or tried to help some of our homeless folks.

For a moment in time, it did matter where you were on the political spectrum, or your ethnic background, religious affiliation, or anything else.  We were all in this together and dependent on each other to get through it.   We were all in awe of the power and beauty of the natural world.

There was a spirit of kindness, caring, and camaraderie.  And few made fun of meteorologists.

I am going to miss it.