A Simple Path – To Kindness

By on Feb 26, 2013

20 Comments


“Kindness begets kindness evermore.” ~ Sophocles

15 inches of snow covered Kansas City last week. Coming off of a winter when KC received only a few inches, this winter’s snow seemed especially deep, beautiful, and at the same time, dangerous.

When I left my house at 7 a.m. for the 20-minute commute, the snow was just beginning to cover the ground. When I arrived at my office, two inches of snow had already fallen. Five hours later, the other 13 inches was on the ground.

Kansas Citians dubbed the event Snowmageddon, also a popular hashtag on Twitter these days. What made this snowstorm remarkable was how fast the snow fell – three inches an hour.

I was able to leave my office at 2 p.m., but the snow plows were just beginning to start clearing streets.

The drive home was surprisingly uneventful until I reached my neighborhood. The snow plows had not made their way there yet.

I could sense the inevitable. I drive a Ford Taurus which has a low-to-the-ground front spoiler. The snow-packed street was too much for my car.

Home was so close, but so unreachable at the same time.

Stuck and frustrated, I was able to push the car to the side of the street. There it would sit until the snow melted or until I came up with a better plan for its rescue.

The Morning After

The next morning Mary Beth and I started the rescue operation.

Armed with a snow shovel and the determination to set it free, we approached the car. The snow had drifted overnight causing my car to be completely encased.

My wife started the car, while I shoveled.

It seemed no matter how much I shoveled, progress was impossible. If I can just get the snow out from underneath the tires, I thought, then Mary Beth could drive it out.

30 minutes later, we had moved the car 10 feet.

Witnessing our dilemma, a father and his son joined the rescue. After a quick round of introductions, they took their snow shovels and began digging as hard as me.

10 more feet.

Progress.

But, more to go before I could tuck my car safely into the garage.

The three of us dug and pushed as Mary Beth skillfully drove the car over, and around, mounds of snow.

Almost there, but a steep hill stood in the way of reaching home.

Now 45 minutes into the joint rescue attempt, the father and son seemed more determined than ever. We became united against the common enemy.

It was cold, backbreaking work. At one point, I took off my gloves because they had become too wet to offer much protection. Seeing my bare hands, the father removed his gloves.

“Wear these,” he said.

I gratefully slipped them on.

We shoveled and pushed the car 10 feet at a time.

But the hill still waited. It seemed like the hill was laughing at us. Almost tempting us to quit.

Our enemy’s arrogance made us work harder, and smarter. We removed the car’s floor mats and placed them under the front tires to gain better traction. The son drove his Toyota 4-Runner to the top of the hill and steered it back and forth to create a flatter surface.

As we approached the apex of the hill, a teenager and his friend drove by in a Ford Ranger and asked if we needed help.

I politely declined because I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone else.

Then he said the magic words, “I have a tow rope.”

Within seconds, the young man was lying face down on the snow placing one end of the tow rope to my car’s frame. Moments later the car was resting safely at the top of the hill. Mary Beth had a clear path to drive the car into the garage.

After gathering my shovel, the floor mats and returning the gloves, I thanked my comrades.

At that moment it was clear there was a shared sense of victory and accomplishment. The common enemy had been defeated. The human spirit had prevailed. Kindness grew a little stronger.

Sometimes the simple path to kindness is paved by adversity, but is kept sacred by realizing we can still depend on each other when a common enemy threatens just one of us.

Since last week’s Snowmageddon, another winter storm has dumped an additional foot of snow on my city. And like last week, folks have been shoveling driveways; pushing cars and helping each other without hesitation.

It’s true that kindness is like snow – it makes everything it covers more beautiful.

Kindness of Strangers

What is A Simple Path?

This post is in A Simple Path, a twice-weekly series of short pieces inspired by my own life experiences. Each post is a simple path to experiencing something wonderful: maybe seeing life from a different perspective, or celebrating its beauty. Click here to read all posts in the series.

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The BridgeMaker Founder Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender. Join the community to connect, share and inspire: Email | Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

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  • Pat Ruppel

    Enjoyed your story Alex. We’re not to far from you in Colorado. I don’t think we’re getting the full impact here as you’re getting in Kansas — for the most part it seems to be missing us. We’re up in the mountains (banana belt) and only got about 8 inches from the last storm. We’ve been real dry.

    Pay it Forward and the acts of kindness are blessings that come from the most unexpected ways and adversity can bring out the best in us. It’s so refreshing when we experience that love being passed onto us. We truly need each other!

    • http://www.thebridgemaker.com/ Alex Blackwell

      Pat – we need each other indeed! By the way, my older son lives on Colorado, too. We were there last Thanksgiving visiting – beautiful!

      • Pat Ruppel

        Hi Alex – sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I typically don’t look at my gmail (regular email is pcruppel47@msn.com) and just saw this. With your son living in Colorado looks like you get a chance to visit from time to time. It is beautiful but we’re really dry right now. Don’t think we’re getting the snow you are.

        Take care – Pat Ruppel
        Plain Talk and Ordinary Wisdom
        http://plaintalkandordinarywisdom.com

  • http://10stepstofindingyourhappyplace.blogspot.com/ Galen Pearl

    I love stories like that!! People really are programmed to be kind, I think. Other things get in the way and block our natural instincts. When we find ourselves in the same boat, so to speak, we tend to pull together in some really great ways. So glad you got your car home and that you had such wonderfully good neighbors to help you.

    • http://www.thebridgemaker.com/ Alex Blackwell

      The whole experience warmed my heart, too Galen!

  • raquel

    It is a beautiful story. We are here to help each other along lifes journey. Kindness is a gift to the the giver and the receiver. I am so glad that they helped you. Those acts restore our faith in humans. :)

    • http://www.thebridgemaker.com/ Alex Blackwell

      Hi Raquel,

      Yes, even though the ordeal of rescuing my car was exhausting, the kindness of the strangers was exhilarating!

  • http://www.devacoaching.com/ Sandi Amorim

    Growing up on the prairies of central Canada I had to smile as I read this post and it triggered so many memories. And often, just as you shared, it was the kindness of strangers that saved the day. Human beings being great with each other. That’s what we’re really here for.

    • http://www.thebridgemaker.com/ Alex Blackwell

      Sandi,

      I love how you put it, “that’ what we’re really here for.” Those are true words. We are here to take care of each other and make the world a little better – at least the part of the world we can influence. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.thebounceblog.com/ Bobbi Emel

    What a lovely story, Alex! It restores faith in humans’ abilities to create instant community.

    • http://www.thebridgemaker.com/ Alex Blackwell

      Hi Bobbi,

      The kindness of strangers I experienced last week has certainly restored my faith. Thanks so much for stopping by today!