I was going to break the “silence” on this semi-defunct blog with a boring and semi-coherent post about having social anxiety, again, ho hum. But then an amusing thing happened, so I will post about that instead.
This being National Pie Day, I had just placed a bourbon apple pie in the oven and was finishing clearing away excess pie crust, when I heard the sound of tires squealing. My windows afford a great view of the goings on down below, so I looked out and saw a massive SUV struggling to wade through the three feet of snow that has blanketed our streets. No plows have even attempted to go through our neighborhood, so it was rough going. From my window perch I checked on the SUV, went back to the oven to check on the pie, and back to my laptop to check social media notifications. This went on for another fifteen minutes before I felt a bit bad about peeping on the driver and decided to intervene.
For the first time since Friday’s snowfall, I suited up and headed out into the wintry world. There’s a shovel and a tiny courtesy bag of salt stationed in the vestibule of my building; I grabbed the shovel and stepped outside, whereupon I immediately sank into the snow up to my hips. The driver of the SUV was furiously trying to ram over a snowbank before he noticed me. He got out and as we shoveled, he explained that he was on his way home, when he had to turn around due to a firetruck blocking the road. Baltimore is under an officially declared snow emergency, which means that only emergency vehicles are permitted to be out on the streets. Obviously this man had not been made aware of this. He had turned around and promptly got ensnared in the snow in front of my house, and was making absolutely no headway, basically grinding his tires into wet rubber slurry. Though he had an SUV, apparently this SUV did not have snow tires or even four wheel drive, for that matter. (I am not sure how it qualifies as a “utility” vehicle.)
After a few minutes of the two of us trying to scoop out the impossible wall of snow embedded between his tires and the road, another guy came walking up to offer assistance. It turns out he lives across the street from me, also on the third floor. (He also happens to be cute and really into bikes. No idea about status otherwise.) I have not met any of my neighbors apart from people I already knew before moving here, and the ex-roommate who I am actively avoiding. Cute Bike Guy also mentioned this phenomenon. At some point in conversation, I mentioned making a pie, which reminded me that yes – I had indeed made a pie which was currently baking in my unattended oven, so I ran back upstairs to take care of that. (Luckily, I had come back at just the right time for it to be done and unburnt.)
I came back outside. Another man had walked up, a mercenary shoveler (a great business to be in during a time like this), and lent his assistance. The driver was far too agitated to be chatty, but the rest of us chatted about the snow shoveling business, massive snowball fight events planned throughout the city, and so forth. Yet another neighbor came out wielding a shovel, and the five of us nearly succeeded in getting the car to the bottom of the hill, where my little avenue intersects with a major (and thereby plowed) street. Then a plow truck – the very first I’d seen this storm – came towards us, plow down and angled towards us, honking furiously. We hopped out of the way as the plow shoved more snow back into our way, so we dug that away too.
A woman walked past us to cross the street. On the other side, she met up with a man who proceeded to strip off his clothes, baring his naked flesh to the icy air. “What the hell?” whistled the mercenary, staring incredulously. I just shrugged and continued shoveling, rather than know more about what was going on. (Probably they were art students.)
Finally we got the path to the main street shoveled out sufficiently for even a SmartCar to pass, and the driver climbed into his car for the final push. Cute Bike Guy and I cleared out of the way, expecting the SUV to come barreling out, when the engine fell strangely silent.
The driver hopped out, exasperated. He had run out of gas.
The nearest gas station – if, indeed, it is open tonight – is about a mile to the west. “The devil is busy tonight,” declared the driver. Shoulders slumped, he marched westward into the distance, empty gallon gas can in hand. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone so exhausted and miserable in a long time.
Cute Bike Guy and I parted ways – I mean, we couldn’t keep helping this obviously hopeless person – but now I know a neighbor. And a perfectly baked pie. I feel so terrible for the SUV driver, but I couldn’t help but laugh at his predicament, because I am a bad person, and seriously? Sure, he chose his vehicle poorly, and also his transportation plans for this evening, but still, that is some fucking luck. I hope this man makes it home okay to have a better day tomorrow.
And I hope I continue to get to know my neighbors when there aren’t natural disasters happening.