The Warmth of an Icy Afternoon with Jeff Winston

Guest Post by Jeff Winston for the Kind Kindred series.

The Warmth of an Icy Afternoon

It was an icy December day as I drove down the City Line that divided the city of Philadelphia with its western suburbs.

It had stormed a few days before and ten-foot mounds of snow were piled high along the far edges of the shopping center, walling off the vast parking lots from the snow and ice covered sidewalks.

I was in a rush to get to my job as a waiter at a local chain restaurant, and the usual ten-minute drive was turning into a sluggish twenty due to the slushy driving conditions on the road. Priding myself on my promptness, I was starting to get frustrated. By the time the restaurant came into view, I was already late for my shift.

Hustling from my car, I anticipated my general manager’s demeaning lecture about responsibility and having allowed for more time due to the storm.

That’s when I heard a frail voice calling for help.

At first I thought it was just the high-pitched shriek of the icy wind, which was blowing pretty good that day. But as I got closer to the front door of the restaurant, the voice was unmistakable and it was coming from the other side of the massive snow mound between me and the street.

Looking over the top I saw a little old woman laying on her side in the snow bank, her groceries strewn about around her. “Help, oh please help me,” she called out when she saw me sliding down the mound towards her.

After gently gathering her back up to standing, and replacing her apples and cans of tuna back into her shopping bag, she stood clinging on to my arm with pure terror in her eyes. How long had she been lying there, cold and wet and alone?

After her repetitive and breathy barrage of “Thank You’s”, and my assessment that she wasn’t physically injured, I asked, “Where can I take you?”

She pointed down the street and said that she lived only a few blocks away. We started walking, slowly. These were long, snow-covered city blocks and her grip remained tight and desperate throughout the journey.

Her face reflected the blank mixture of fear and early dementia, and besides the occasional flurries of “Bless you”, she remained silent as we crossed the street to begin our sixth block.

Finally, she pointed, “Here. Here is where I live.”

We then made our way up the long driveway of the assisted living center.

As I turned to leave her in the care of her grateful hosts she gently pulled me close. And in a calm, relieved and tender voice, she whispered, “Thank you for your kindness.”

My aura was certainly glowing bright during my reflective walk back to the restaurant as I basked in the warmth of having helped out another human being. Not even my manager’s eventual rant would shake my new first-hand understanding that selfless acts of kindness truly do bring more light into the world.

Jeff has lived in Easthampton since 2007, after moving up from Philadelphia with his wife, Alli, and their 3 dogs, Murphy, Zoey and Maggie. Jeff has a private tutoring business, Tap Your Truth, and leads The Spoken Word Workshop which focuses on empowering individuals through their own written and spoken words. Jeff writes a blog called Better Out Than In…, a place to read creative expressions of his life’s experiences, samples of his student’s work, and tidbits that will enable readers to gain insight into their own lives.

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