Snow angels: Giving without expecting

It’s mid-September, and in Baltimore, Maryland cooler weather greets the mornings making me think of delicious new comfort foods to create, a new search for the perfect coat to keep me warm, more snow boots, and inevitably my snow angels during the Baltimore blizzard of 2010.

I figured I’m either gonna freeze to death in this blizzard or die at the hands of this guy – who, in my overactive imagination, was probably a serial killer. As freezing cold as I was, all I hoped was that he’d let me warm up a bit first.

That day in 2010, during the appropriately termed, “Snowmeggadon,” when Mama Nature dumped a second snowfall on top of the one we were still trying to dig out, I was working at the hospital during a code yellow. They hadn’t shut down the city yet, and thankfully all the day shift people made it in, so we – the night shift crew – were free to leave. But the designated driver who’d picked me, and countless others up from home the night before would not be able to take me back home until early afternoon. Ugh!

I needed to go! See, my youngest daughter was down in Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, about to graduate from basic training, and when they cleared the runway, I intended to be on the first plane headin’ south!

It was 8 a.m. Outside the hospital, a thick curtain of snow was falling. The bus no. 11 that usually brought me to work wasn’t running; I think I heard the cab company’s dispatcher chuckle a bit when I requested a cab, and I wasn’t about to stand around for five hours waiting for the driver from the night before to take me home.

So …

I layered up, buttoned and zipped, tightened my scarf around my neck, and hoped the double pair of socks inside the rain boots I was wearing were enough to keep my feet warm. (Nope, didn’t have any snow boots)

The curtain of falling, blowing snow was so thick, I couldn’t see a foot in front of me. I trudged on, past the Sheppard Pratt psychiatric hospital heading toward a main street – hopeful that somehow I’d make it home, a 25 minute drive away, and hopeful that any psych patient escapees got their morning dose of medications first.

By the time I saw my first snow angel – about to drive off the St. Joseph Hospital parking lot, peering at me through the heavily falling snow, probably wondering what brand of moron was walking out in that mess – my whole body was one big uncontrollable shiver, my feet nearing two blocks of ice.  He let me into his vehicle to get warm, then took me to the York Road bus stop as I requested. A main street, York Road, was semi-clear, so I figured perhaps the #8 might still be running.

But my feet couldn’t wait. The longer I waited, constantly stomping my feet to keep blood circulating, the colder they got. So, I started walking again. As cars slowly passed, going in each direction, I walked with my head down against the blowing snow, unaware that the horn blowing at me from across the street was my second snow angel trying to get my attention.

He offered a ride; I declined. He offered again, and I thanked him anyway, saying I could make it home. (Yep, I racked up MANY stupid points that day!) In my mind, getting into one stranger’s vehicle was already tempting fate. But when he was nice enough to offer again, I gave in. I figured I’m either gonna freeze to death in this blizzard or die at the hands of this guy – who, in my overactive imagination, was probably a serial killer. As freezing cold as I was, all I hoped was that he’d let me warm up a bit first.

He turned out to be my guardian angel who took me all the way home – what should have been a 15-minute drive that took 40-some minutes, minutes that would have stretched to at least an hour – had I made it. He accepted no offer of money, and wished me a safe flight to my daughter.

I’ve never forgotten those two snow angels of mine. Had it not been for them, I’d have never made it through that blizzard, let alone down to South Carolina to my daughter’s graduation. Their kind act of giving, with no intention of receiving anything in return will always be my inspiration.

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