Last week, my brother and I were helping our aunt dig our cousin’s car out of a snow bank when this old man passed by.
We were basically lying underneath the car with our hands as our only tools. I tried to use a Gatorade bottle, but it didn’t work. My brother was mad at me because it was my fault that he wasn’t wearing gloves. I was scared because one time when I was thirteen I saw this television show documenting a true story about a girl who tried to hide under a car during a game of hide-and-seek. The serious-toned narrator shared terrible news: she ended up having to get her leg amputated.
We were already covered in snow when this boy walked by. He was sixteen and on his way home from Mock Trial. He was wearing a red sweatshirt and jeans and seemed genuinely concerned about our situation. He asked if we would like a shovel; he just had to run around the corner to his house to get it. We said, yes please. I called him a Good Samaritan, but he never came back. I know he had to sit down to dinner as soon as he walked in the door. His sister had just finished her violin lesson and was getting cranky. Mom and Dad didn’t like getting off schedule; they all had work to do. Plus, Dad believes in finding your way out of your own problems.
A woman came out of her house to tell us to please not put the snow in the street, and thank you very much.
Some other people walked by. Some said nothing. Some tried to give us instructions as if they were experts.
A twenty-seven-year-old recent law school graduate shoveled his own parking space a couple hundred feet away. We had a few moments of eye contact, or maybe we didn’t. He was far away. I considered asking him if we could use his shovel when he finished, or maybe his muscles. Then my cousin showed up wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt and carrying a shovel.
The old man nearly had to step over me, a bag of take-out food in hand. He said something with his cocked head. Then aloud, he said, “Are you going to write a novel about this?”
I’ll probably pass that old man on the street tomorrow.