This morning before work, freezing rain. As I lay in bed awake before my alarm, I could hear that distinctive hard or sharp sound of freezing rain hitting my roof top. Years ago I may have been excited about it but at this late age, no. “Slow” came to mind. “Drive slow and damn the idiots trying to pass me. Let THEM have the accidents”.
After breakfast I headed out “slow”. Testing the road, calculating ice thickness, slickness and how long it might take me to stop at this or that speed. “Slow” I told myself and damn the idiots that wanted to pass me and get to their destination faster. Stupidity and accidents make you later than going slow.
I got to work safely. No great loss of control no fender benders. The factory had not opened and the workers were sitting in their cars in the iced-over parking lot. The boss was a little late (having to drive farther than any of us). I was relieved to see him a little late but SAFE.
As my coworkers and I got ready to get to work, I gave my usual greetings and noticed something shared in every face I saw: GRATITUDE. RELIEF. We were ALL mildly euphoric (I think) that everyone was safe. No accidents. It was a shared sigh of relief. One big smile that went through us all for a while. I worked on the loading dock. In the morning a truck full of materials came in from Detroit. The driver had said that I-94 (the main east/west highway) was closed in a few places and he had had to take alternate routes to get there. I gave him a big smile, complimented him on his good driving and for having made it there safe with no accident. He returned the smile. The shared gratitude and relief and simply arriving from point A to point B SAFELY made us not strangers. We shared in something, a good feeling. A good feeling that went past the irritation and fear of so many today. I remembered other times like this.
A storm hits where you live and you feel the power of nature. You duck and cover then come out and see neighbors and strangers and there is that “Ahhhh we made it all safe!” feeling on everyone’s face. Suddenly there ARE no strangers. Everyone is connected with that mixed feeling of relief, gratitude and just happy to be safe. It goes a little further too in how people look at each other and are happy FOR each other not having been harmed.
I remember a few years ago there was a massive black-out here in the midwest USA. After the shock of no electric wore off, people went out and talked to their neighbors. They shared what they had and could share. The best thing shared were the smiles of relief. The little dropping of barriers between strangers that made them feel connected in the shared adversity of the situation.
Over 30 years ago my company was unionized and the union went on strike. Due to some odd circumstance, I was not part of the Union. I had to go through a picket line every day for months. I had to do it to survive. I had nothing against them. I had to make a living. As did others that had to cross that picket line. The picketers would throw rocks at us and threaten us with bodily harm. Some brandished knives and clubs. It was terrifying at times. I remember though how … JOYFUL my coworkers and I felt once we got into the safety of the factory. That shared relief gratitude happiness that broke through all our petty every day squabbles. We were connected in that feeling.
I have seen in the news that brightness in people AFTER some tragedy in which people arrive or find they are safe. That shared GOOD feeling that brings people together in a bright way just as so often we see how tragedy will do that. Today though, like other times was a good day a bright faced sort of day in which we ARRIVE safely.
And if the ice of that parking lot had not been so damned dirty this morning, I would have kissed it 😉