-by Joe Fiduccia
Here in northeast PA, and like many other areas of the northeast, 2015 has yielded a pretty intense winter season. The snow continues to fall and the cold continues to keep everyone indoors.
But soon the warmer weather will be upon us. And when Spring time comes, we’ll start venturing outside again, and will begin to see our neighbors doing the same. Some we will chat with, and some we won’t.
As is the case with most other neighborhoods, ours certainly has its share of neighbors that don’t make life easy. While we have met some great people whom we consider close friends, we have unfortunately gotten to know the others who tend to give our community a bad name. And one neighbor in particular has not made things easy for us.
Without getting into specifics, this neighbor hasn’t been the ‘friendliest’ towards us since moving in over 10 years ago. So when it comes to offering them a hand in a time of need, what is one to do?
Today I was faced with that very scenario. We had another round of snowfall which resulted in a very heavy, wet snow. The kind of snow that renders most two-wheel drive cars useless.
Once the storm had ended, I went outside to begin shoveling our driveway. It is a pretty large area and because of the snow’s density, took me over an hour to complete. And for the majority of my time outside, I couldn’t help but notice out of the corner of my eye this very neighbor struggling to get their car out of a snow bank.
She was stuck in the apron of her driveway, with part of her car sticking out into the street. She spun her wheels so much it probably caused some light damage to the car’s internal components. She would get out and try shoveling, go inside to take a break, then come back out and shovel more. But 45 minutes later, her efforts weren’t getting her anywhere.
So what is one to do in this situation? Here I am – outside shoveling my own driveway and seeing another human being in a struggle. I’m confident she saw me, but probably couldn’t muster up the strength to ask me for some help.
And given the history we have with this neighbor, every piece of me was glad. Inside, I found myself saying things like: “too bad; you deserve it; tough luck; fend for yourself.”
Why should I go out of my way for you? Why should I assist someone who brings nothing but negativity and problems into our neighborhood? Why should I help you, when you’ve done nothing positive for us since the day we moved in?
Because…it’s the RIGHT thing to do.
So I finished up my driveway, swallowed my pride, and walked over to her…shovel in hand. Likely surprised by my presence, all she said was “I don’t know if I should go forward or backward”. Realizing how bad she was stuck, I told her I can hook up a tow line and pull her out with my car, to which she said “OK.”
So I went back to the house and drove the car over. I hooked up the line, told her to put it in Neutral, and successfully pulled her out of the snow bank. I disconnected the cable, she said “thank you”, and we went our separate ways.
As I was pulling back into our driveway, I found myself having one of those ‘internal’ conversations. One side of me kept repeating the same words: “why would you do that”. But the other side of me felt proud.
In the end, I don’t have high hopes that we will suddenly because close friends. But I didn’t choose to help because I wanted her gratitude. I simply did it because it was the right thing to do.
If I was in the same situation as she was, I’d want someone to help me. I saw an individual who needed a hand, and did what I could get them to safety. I put all of our bad history aside, and made a difference in her day through one simple act of kindness. And perhaps, I gave her something to think about…maybe changing her perspective on how she treats a next-door neighbor.
The negativity in this world won’t stop unless we make an effort to bring some positivity into it. So I’d like to think of today as my way of “making a difference” for the people of tomorrow.