The following letter to the editor was submitted by Thomas Crane, a Fairlington resident who had a recent experience in Courthouse that inspired him to write us.
As the winter storm interrupts our lives for the next few days, most of us will likely get along just fine. If you’re like me, you’ve stocked up on the essentials and plan to binge watch Netflix . . . until the power goes out, at least. Others will need help.
On Wednesday night, there was a lesser storm in the area that served as a proper wakeup call. I nearly lost all faith in humanity that evening. Sadly, most people stood idly and laughed as cars collided with other cars, curbs, and signs. On the other hand, one person was extremely helpful and his actions inspired me to write this piece.
It was about 8 p.m. and I was on my way home from a community meeting — ironically, the meeting topic “emergency preparedness”– and a few inches of snow caused extremely icy conditions. I took a shortcut to avoid reckless drivers and I came to a “T” where I could turn left and slide down a steep icy hill, turn right and get stuck and probably slide backwards down the hill, or go in reverse up a hill and probably slide into every car parked to the left and right. Two other car accidents were already visible as I approached so I pulled over and got out to see if everyone was okay. They were.
A crowd of mostly young men formed and, with hands in pockets, watched as several cars attempted the hill. The crowd was entertained as car after car slid dangerously up and down the hill. Not one person jumped in to help. Eventually, some onlookers half-heartedly tried advising drivers from attempting the hill. Some convinced the drivers they could make it if they just took their foot off the brake and did this or that. It seemed like all the onlookers were armchair experts. I did my part to deter some cars and push a couple others.
I started talking with a guy named Mike who lived next door and was late to the scene. We were chatting and I said I’d been there for over an hour and was waiting to see if a car of my caliber could actually conquer the hill. He invited me inside his home to warm up and check the news to see if conditions would improve. Soon, he invited me to stay the night, and I did. His family was extremely welcoming and kind. I remain blown away by his kindness to a complete stranger.
In emergencies and difficult times, we must be able to rely on our neighbors. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and please, don’t be hesitant to offer help. Below are 5 great ways to help others.
Knock on your neighbors’ doors and say “hi.” Ask if they’re prepared to hunker down for a couple days. You can learn who may need help and who can give help. Maybe you’ll want to get friendly with those who have a propane grill, generator, firewood, and other essentials that may be shared if need be.
Shovel snow. This is as desirable as helping a friend move, but those you help will be eternally grateful. I remember a young Marine helped shovel a bunch of cars out of our apartment complex during Snowmaggaden of 2010. Thank you, Marine!
Give a push. If you see a car that is stuck, go ask them if they need a push. And push! And get others to help you push.
Inform and advise. Some people are apathetic to this storm. But if you’re well informed about the current forecast and hazards and know what action to take, tell others. Spread the word on how to get prepared.
Give shelter. Offer to open your home to those in need. Of course, take safety precautions but don’t let fear deter you from hospitality.
Please comment on other ways to help, and how others have helped you.
ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity.