Biff America column: Brotherhood of traction
January 20, 2017
So a liberal, a conservative and a cop walk into a bar …
No, that is not the first line of a bad joke. That actually happened.
OK, that is a lie; it wasn't a bar. It was a coffee shop.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that guy driving the sport-utility vehicle with Texas plates and a "Make America Great Again" sticker knew as much about driving in the snow as I know about bull riding. Whatever the case, he had buried the front end of a vehicle large enough to grow crops in grill-deep into a snow bank.
It has been bedlam on the streets these past couple of weeks. Huge dumps of heavy snow and a town filled with folks from warmer climes have made the roads as dangerous as wearing Birkenstocks to a gun show.
Normally, I would not have been behind the wheel on such a day, but I needed to deliver something heavy to a friend's house that wasn't conducive to bus or bike. As I walked out the door, my mate promised that, if I would bring her back a fresh muffin, she would vacuum sometime in the spring.
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As I approached the cafe, I had to swerve around a white, five-door behemoth, spinning all four wheels and completely blocking one lane of traffic. After parking, I passed by the stuck truck. The windows were open, and I could see the vehicle was full of kids and one well-coifed lady, all yelling instructions to the frustrated driver.
I went back to my Edsel and grabbed gloves and a small shovel and offered to help. The driver seemed grateful but wondered what only one person could do. I said, "You'll see."
I recommended that he straighten his wheels and stop spinning them until he could get some traction. Then I suggested that the entire family get out, not to push, but to lessen the weight. While the family was disembarking, I tried to explain the concept of rocking the vehicle, not just flooring it and digging deeper holes with the tires.
The wife had a coat with a fur collar and smelled as good as those scented candles you put in your bathroom when you have overnight guests. While she and the kids waited to the side, I began to slowly shovel behind the wheels.
'Need a hand?'
When I said, "You'll see," I wasn't boasting of my personal pushing strength but, rather, I was confident that I live in a town (world) where people help those in need.
It wasn't three minutes before Peter wandered over on the way to get some coffee. "Need a hand?" Pete asked and got in front of the SUV, shin deep in snow. Though both of us are well entrenched in middle age, Peter and I are not built like normal men; the two of us might have been able to push the car out. But we never got the chance.
We rocked the car a few times when Mike approached. I have clothing Mike's age. I would like to think that Pete and I had laid the groundwork and done most of the heavy lifting, but as soon as Mike grunted and pushed, the SUV popped out of the drift as if jet propelled.
The lady in the fur collar seemed like she was going to hug me and then took a closer look and hugged Peter instead. The Texas family all climbed back in the vehicle, thanked us all and drove off as the three of us entered the coffee shop, sitting at separate tables.
So, a liberal, a conservative and a cop walk into a coffee shop. I'll let you guess who is who, but in truth it doesn't matter. Events like the one described are bipartisan. They occur every day all over the world — people going out of their way to help others in need.
I can't speak for the others, but for me, I can say at first blush that Texas family and I had little in common. Except, like them, there were times in my life when I was stuck, out of my element and needed and was given help. I would say every living person has been in that situation.
No one said (or I'd wager thought to themselves), "It is their own fault they are stuck. Why should the rest of us help them?" Or, "those Texans are always getting stuck and then asking for help; let them dig themselves out." No one said (or thought), "Look at that expensive car; they can make America great again by paying for a tow truck."
What divides us are politicians, public figures, media and bumper stickers. What unites us is a common accumulation of human experiences and a brotherhood of similar needs for love and happiness.
We are all unique in our thought and abilities. Some are gifted with the skill of riding bulls; others (like me) are simply full of bull.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff's book, "Mind, Body, Soul," is available at local shops and bookstores or shop.holpublications.com.