My father owns a snowplow business, and the other day I was riding shotgun with him as he finished up his list of customers. It was a long day of work and we were both happy to be almost finished. As we turned down a side street enroute to our final customer of the day we let out a collective gasp as we encountered an all too familiar sight. A 2-foot snowdrift had swallowed up a half mile stretch of the road we were driving on. Ordinarily this would pose zero threat to a plow-laden F350, but buried in the middle of the snowy mass were three sedans, one police officer and tow truck.
The tow truck driver was of no help in this situation. He shook his head in disgust and did a quick about face. The officer, who was at a loss for next-step ideas, decided the cars would have to stay until the next day.
My father, though, was determined to save the day and plow everyone out. So with the help of a local farmer friend (and his John Deere tractor) all of the cars were pulled out and a pathway was cleared. As amazing as this feat was, it was not the joint rescue effort that fascinated me. It was the people stuck in the snow who really caught my attention.
It was a sunny, clear afternoon. The road before and after the massive snow drift was dry and black -so any of the drivers stuck in the drift had full knowledge as to the potential hazard. Something inside told them that they could successfully drive their ill-equipped, 2-wheel drive sedans over a stretch of road that even veteran snowplow drivers would avoid. So they went for it. Some made it farther than others, but at the end of the day they were all stuck.
I walked by each of the cars chatting with the drivers - asking them if they were okay and letting them know about the plan for extraction. The looks on their faces said it all. The high-school kid in the Audi knew he was in for it when he got home. The guy in the Lexus was mad at himself, but even more upset at the tow-truck driver who left him stranded. The husband and wife in the BMW were arguing about who's fault it was that they were in this mess.
What is it about situations like these that convince us to flirt with the potential landmines of life?
Did these drivers trust more in the carmaker's commercials that show similar vehicles bounding over snowy terrain rather than their own abilities to drive under such extreme conditions?
When we're stuck, are we to worry ourselves about fault and guilt rather than getting to a place of safety?
Should we have known better?
Is pain and suffering something that we willfully enter into because we're not thinking clearly?
For a long time I would have characterized myself as the snow-plow savior in this story, just yesterday I realized that I am actually the wide-eyed, nervous sedan driver.