Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Intersection of Peril

The day after a record-breaking snowfall, I asked a friend if I could make socio-economic assumptions for why the city had not even begun plowing the roads in my neighborhood. After another day had passed, he said I could consider those assumptions to be conclusions. By the fourth day, I had ceased to care.

“Do you think she’ll make it?” I asked my friend as he slowed his car as we approached the intersection before my house. A car was swimming in the snow in front of us, thick and gelatinous after the three feet of snow we received four days earlier which the city had still not gotten around to clearing from my neighborhood.

“Well, she’s still moving...” he observed, wavering between his choices to stop his car or veer around her. “No, her tires are just spinning now,” he finally concluded. “Do wanna help her?”

“Yeah, let’s do it.” My friend stopped his car in the middle of the road before the slushy intersection and we got out.

After a few unsuccessful attempts to push her car either backwards or forwards, I volunteered to run home and grab my shovel, and my friend moved his car away from the chaos.

By the time we started shoveling under her tires, another stranger approached on foot and joined our rescue attempts. The three of us shoved, pushed, slid, sunk, and shushed for several humorous minutes, and eventually the hapless car was free.

Of course, by that time, another vehicle was stranded in the same intersection, and our makeshift rescue team turned to investigate. “You have four-wheel drive!” a man in a van behind her laughed. “How can you get stuck?”

“I don’t know how, but I sure am suck!” she retorted. Before we could help her, the fellow in the van behind her offered to bump her with his vehicle, and we watched the heroic effort. While he did manage to free her, our cheers turned to laughter when his tires spun to reveal that he was now stranded in the intersection of peril.

“Are you gonna help me too?” he laughed.

That afternoon, after I had said goodbye to my friend and my collection of rescuers and rescuees and was nestled on my couch getting reading done, I learned to identify the sound of spinning tires out my window. Each time another car got stuck, I looked out the window to see a collection of passers-by helping the victim. I remembered my experiences of Irish hospitality and Southern hospitality, and was warmed to find that it had followed me out to the cold Midwest.

The city did get around to plowing my neighborhood that night, though by that point I had learned that good neighbors are more reliable than public service. I am grateful to live where people are simple enough to have time to be good neighbors.

1 comment:

Mary S said...

My attention is captured by your stories relating to ordinary people in ordinary life because your stories capture how and where one must look to find Christ in people. One would not ordinarily consider He might be present in such ordinary people and the ordinary situations people find themselves in. But, of course, that's just where he would be if He were here on earth now. Thanks for your observations. MCS