By Kelsey Stillwell & Tiffany Pickett
Two weeks ago, Atlanta fell apart after 2 inches of snow. Thousands of cars trapped on interstates, 900+ wrecks within hours of each other forced us out of our comfort zone to help others in need. Here's what we learned:
1. The social media overload during the snowpocalypse spoke of the extreme need and panic so many felt in our dear Atlanta. Stories of grandmothers with no insulin stranded in a car for over 14 hours, babies without formula, husbands lost with no cell phone or gasoline, and sisters offering shelter and food to those in need plucked at the heartstrings of our entire group as we sat in our warm apartment. So we went out to help.
2. The snowpocalypse inspired a fashion mindset of whatever is warmest is the new black. Our attire consisted of anything from borrowed sweatpants, Razorback pajamas, high socks over leggings, Cincinnati Red's gloves, a Michelin Man inspired jacket, and any hat would do to guarantee warmth from the cold.
3. Strangers are typically kind. As we drove out of the apartment complex we almost immediately saw the insanity of numerous cars struggling to gain enough traction to drive over the overpass on I- 285 on Chamblee-Tucker. We parked our cars and walked over to the scene to offer assistance. At first sight we saw police officers alongside two young men helping a car make it over the bridge. As we would later find out these two men were from Toronto and had experience with snow and icy conditions. They instructed us to put weight on the back tires for traction rather than pushing. It took eight or more of us to do so, with one lying on the trunk of the car before they finally drove over the bridge.
4. People have a really hard time accepting things for free. As we held up bottles of water, packages of crackers, and granola bars the inner struggle on the motorist's face as we passed their car could be clearly seen. Are these people trying to make a profit off this? Could it be true that they are just giving these items out for free? Seeing our friendly faces in that cold and bleak situation finally convinced a car here and there to roll down their window demonstrating to other drivers that in fact we were here to help. We hope that this small act of kindness helped restore some of those stranded people's hope in humanity and that in fact some things really are free.
5. No shoes are suitable when walking on sheets of ice. Knockoff UGGS, shoes of the Sperry type, and even Chicago approved Timberlands struggle to stay upright as they search for traction on streets glazed over with ice.
6. Watching such a diversity of people in the same bleak situation showed small celebrations and gifts can bring joy. While handing out food and water we met a variety of people. We chatted with a delightful woman who was a bus driver. She now was on the journey home after making sure her bus full of children was safe. We saw a man carefully water his dog after being trapped in his truck for over eight hours. A truck driver named Eric had a birthday and to celebrate him we sang Happy Birthday right there on the interstate. We gladly gave a mom blankets to help keep her child warm in their car.
7. No judgment for lack of hygiene occurred during the snowpocalypse. Being without a toothbrush, changes of clothes and sometimes deodorant caused us to let go of preconceived notions of cleanliness. We accepted one another as we were and until after the fact we failed to realize how long some of us actually went without deodorant which should have been terrible, but it was fine.
8. Nothing can beat realizing that you've got some pretty incredible friends, with caring hearts and a sense of adventure. And it is days like those that can never be recreated and will become memories and stories that you hold onto.
Kelsey Stillwell and Tiffany Pickett are second-year students at McAfee School of Theology.