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I love Mormons — Or: Why bad weather brings out the best in us

March 11, 2009

Yesterday we got a massive blizzard that shut down the city. By noon the hospitals were closed. By 1 pm, the US Postal Service pulled all remaining mail trucks off their routes. Visibility was near zero, temperatures were subzero, winds got up to 50 mph (and in open areas, drifting was very bad), and it would not stop snowing.

By 10 am today, though, most everything was back on track. However, 3 feet of snow had fallen and/or drifted across our driveway. My father is out of town (yes, I live at home, but not for long) and the last time it snowed apparently ran the snowblower dry of gas because he didn’t think it would snow again.

Also, last night our garage door open completely freaked out and would not stop opening and closing (in very rapid succession, opening only a foot or so before immediately closing, then opening again) and had to be unplugged.

So, my car and my mom’s car were trapped inside the garage and even if we could have gotten the door open, the snowblower was out of gas and neither of us has ever operated one.

So, at 7:30 in the morning, we got up, threw on warm clothes, and headed outside with a pair of shovels. After about 45 minutes of nonstop shoveling, we’d cleared about one lane of the driveway (a double-wide) a third of the way down. Mom went inside to warm up and put on longjohns but I decided to stay outside and dig.

I was shoveling away when I noticed a silver car pull up in front of our neighbor’s house. I figured it was someone visiting them or even our neighbor. Then I looked up and saw two young men with shovels.

“Would you like some help?” One of them asked from the end of the driveway.

“That would be… wonderful!” I told him gratefully. These two young men helped Mom and I shovel out almost our entire driveway, throwing the snow up onto four foot banks on either side and clearing all the way out to the street.

Mom asked if they were out doing their good deeds for the day (they looked to be about college-age), but they said they were missionaries who had been in the neighborhood digging out a fellow member when they saw me and decided to stop.

They helped us clear the driveway in about an hour and a half, instead of the three or more hours it would have taken just my mom and I. Mom gave them a $20 and told them to buy themselves lunch, which they tried to refused, so I told them to give it to the church, which they agreed to do.

Now, I agree with pretty much nothing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka Mormons) have to say about anything. But these nice boys didn’t once try to prozelytize and they jumped right in with vim and vigor to help us, complete strangers, out. Any church that can turn out people like that deserves a donation, regardless of what they preach.

I don’t know what it is about really terrible weather in my neck of the woods, but for some reason it makes people go out of their way to help out strangers (except, of course, the really stupid ones, but even those ones we help if they’re in serious trouble). Some acquaintences of mine apparently spent pretty much all day Tuesday (during the blizzard) driving around town in a huge 4-wheel drive truck with jumper cables and tow ropes, looking for people (cops in particular, were the goal) to pull out of snowbanks or deep snow on side streets.

Of course, there’s also the story of the rural people who drove through the snowstorm to WalMart to buy milk, drove back to find the road closed, tried to go around, got stuck, called emergency services, and had snowplows, troopers, and a helicopter spend 3 hours trying to get them out. For milk. *sigh*

If you get snow where you live, I hope you never curse or badmouth the people who have to plow and move snow. In emergency situations like this, they work the longest, coldest, darkest, most bitter hours of anyone, trying to clear streets and parking lots so people can take them and the services they render for granted and life can continue business as usual.

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