Service in a Snowstorm

Graeme Bregani
Saturna Island, B.C.

Service in a Snowstorm

My first decent job after high school was at a camera store in the ritzy western part of Vancouver, B.C. I lived in the eastern part. I needed a car. My first car.

For $300, I bought a 1958 Vauxhall. The yellow paint held the rusty car together. It came with very bald tires and one brown door. It was mine.

Very late on a Friday night, I navigated my first snowstorm in my “new” car. The way home was on a wide street, but it had many steep hills. At the top of one hill, I paused to time the street light at the bottom so I wouldn’t have to slow. I would need all my momentum to get me up the hill after the stop light.

My timing was off. My tires spun as I accelerated. As I slip-slowed down towards the green light, I knew I’d have to stop for the red light and I’d never get up the next hill. I’d be left at the bottom, miles from home, with just snow for company. Suddenly my car lurched ahead, and I was moving!

Strangely, bald tires spinning away, I kept going.

I made it through the light to the top of the next hill and pulled to one side to let a faster car go by. Exhausted by the stress, I got out and looked back… and saw a lone figure at the top, probably a young man. He was waiting to push each car that slowed. Car after car, he pushed each one. When the light turned red, he paused, slapping his hands against his chest to keep warm. Then, green light, he pushed the next struggling car.

It would have been a long walk down in the snow to thank him, and I didn’t do it. I was cold. My feet were wet, my car had little gas, and I had far to go.
But when I got home safely, and for all these years since, I have remembered that unselfish kindness and what must have been joy in being of service.

I have tried to give back. Sometimes when I have been cold and tired and about to turn away, I remember that lone figure from long ago. Then I turn, and give a grin, and give a hand.

Originally published as HeroicStories #899 on Feb 7, 2022

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