Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Grateful for a Shovel

The Northeast is just now digging out from under a blanket of snow, the thickness of which extended to 4-5 feet because of snow- drifts that in some places were driven by 80 miles an hour biting winds(It felt that way each time I stepped out of my apartment in Fort Lee,NJ.)

Early Monday morning, I bravely stepped forward into the snow covered streets of my town and made my way to where I had parked my car the night before. Was I to be one of the few lucky ones , spared the high snow drifts or was I going to find my car enclosed by white walls of untouched snow, rendering the vehicle motionless , trapped.

Like most others, I encountered the latter situation. Unlike others who were individual home owners, living in an apartment house I was seriously under equipped to extricate my car from this snow filled ensnarement. I stood helplessly alongside my car desperate for a shovel. I looked around hoping that a passing “shoveler” who would come by and for a few dollars would free my car from its imprisonment. Minutes passed but the street was deserted. Looking up I spotted an open car door in a nearby driveway.Approaching it, I noticed a figure with its head hidden under the dashboard.

'Excuse me,” I exclaimed. A young man's face suddenly appeared. “Could I borrow a shovel?”I asked. Without hesitation he stepped out of his car and returned a few moments later , handing me what I considered to be a state-of -the art piece of hardware.

Gratefully I took it from him and an hour later, my car was steered out of its spot ,free to ride along the slippery streets of winter.

I returned to the garage to hand back the shovel; no one was around. I knocked on the door.There was no answer. I rested the shovel against the garage wall, disappointed I could not express my gratitude personally. Suddenly the young man appeared and I was able to say a proper thank you.”Don't mention it,” he replied.

As I drove away I felt a deep sense of gratitude to this young man, and felt reassured by the helpfulness of strangers at times of public difficulty. One could argue: Big deal? It was only a shovel! It was returned exactly as it was before being used? Why the big fuss? There was no loss!No sacrifice!

To me it was indeed a big deal. It was clear at that moment how a simple act of kindness, performed almost absent-mindedly, could be regarded as so important to elicit a strong sense of gratitude. Perhaps, I thought, more awareness should be forthcoming of the myriad simple acts of giving and helping that accumulate into realities of goodness for which a clear sense of gratitude is called for. Such an act helped warm my heart on that cold and wintery day in December.

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