A golden blanket of sun covers the bare branches of the trees in my backyard. I rub my eyes as I walk in front of the kitchen picture window this morning, and then just stare at the radiance on the other side of the glass. On my neighbor’s roof, piddles of snow are playing hide and seek from the sun in crevices and gutters. I think the sun will finally win today.
It is 9:00 on a Friday morning, but the kids are still asleep upstairs, no doubt covering their eyes to block out the darts of sun piercing their teenage eyes through their blinds. The bald meteorologist on the TV says our high today will be 53 degrees. But there will be no school today. Nor was there school yesterday. Our state is recovering from Snowpocalypse 2014.
Snowpocalypse. Three inches of snow and ice.
Yes, three inches. You Minnesotans, you New Yorkers, all of you who actually own winter coats…go ahead and laugh. No, we southerners do not know how to handle snow. It’s true. But, it was not the amount of snow that paralyzed our city…it was inexperience, it was gridlock, and it was hysteria, that paralyzed our city.
I was teaching a class when the fluffy flurries started falling. By the time I was able to leave school, soon afterward, the roads were jammed and icy. I nearly got nailed by someone running a red light, and I told myself, “Oh yes, now people’s real nature will surface.” Two hour and two miles later, I was sliding backward on a hill in front of a hospital and decided to camp at the hospital for the night. I’m a big chicken.
My husband was stranded at his office, and I was nervous to be alone. But, luckily (for me), our friend Rick got stranded there later with me, and we explored the hospital that night for a quiet place to sleep. As we climbed a dark exit stairway in the women’s center, I felt goose bumps and pictured us in the show the Walking Dead. It’s a series filmed in Georgia, about a zombie apocalypse, and the characters spend their time in search of a safe place to live. With the constant sirens in our ears, and the sight of cars just abandoned in the streets, our Snowpocalypse mimicked the desperation in the show, minus the bloody, chomping corpses chasing us. We had a chuckle over the reference and then fell asleep on chairs near an elevator.
The next day, desperate to get home to my kids, who were at home with their Nana (my husband’s brother), Rick and I accepted a ride home from a friend of a friend who had a four wheel drive truck. This stranger…I was told his name was Chris… had been driving all over the city reuniting people with their families, and taking nothing in return. I was ecstatic to be one of those people. I missed my children.
(Yes, ladies, this really is the stranger with the truck)
As he drove Rick and I steadily across thick sheets of ice, past 10 car pile ups, and parking lots of abandoned cars, we all chatted and laughed. We found out he was ex-military, and an ex-police officer (excellent in case of looters or, worse, zombies). We also found out that he is now an actor. Intrigued by his career change, we asked him about the roles he’d had. He named several roles, but my ears perked up at the last one in the list.
He was in the pilot episode of The Walking Dead.
What’re the odds?
So, we pulled his episode up on Netflix and watched as he drove. There were zombies, abandoned cars, and a police shootout, and…one of those cops on the screen was him! My imagination went wild over the parallels. It was good fun to get us through the exhaustion of the past 24 hours.
When we pulled up in my driveway, and I saw my six year old playing in the snow with Nana, I forgot it all. All smiles, and rosy cheeks, my boy hugged me and hugged me, then threw a snowball at my stomach. I thanked my new friend and, as he drove away to help someone else, I felt like I could cry.
Imagining the thousands of others who’d slept in their cars with small children, or in grocery stores, or in shelters, I felt guilty to be so blessed. Still anxiously awaiting my husband’s safe arrival, I counted my blessings.
A loving uncle who protected my kids.
A warm place to sleep in during the disaster.
A new friend, who not only drove, but entertained us all the way home.
Now, this morning, as I lift my coffee cup to my lips, and gaze out at the disappearing snow, I relish the quiet house.
Let the kids enjoy one more day off. We all need it.
Please help me repay my new friend Chris for his kindness:
Chris actively supports the Special Olympics, an organization provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. This year, he will be raising money and will repel off of a building in Atlanta for the event. Please visit his page and help out this incredible organization.
(Due to technical difficulties, please copy and paste the link into your browser to visit the site - sorry for the inconvenience, but it’s worth it!)