Outside there’s a blizzard. We’re on the highway, but our car is still. There are vehicles all around. Five dreary hours churn by, minute after minute. There’s nothing to do but watch snow blow by as the sun sneaks past the horizon.
At first it’s cool. Snowy weather is enjoyable, especially when watching from inside a cozy van. After two hours, it becomes awful. The night swells up around us, and time starts to slow. Others learn a FedEx truck had flipped, and a semi had jack-knifed into it. No one worries about the wreck; just that we are stuck and waiting.
I remember thinking, “I wish I could help; there’s got to be something we can do.” I’m desperate to get out of there and end my family’s agony. After two hours there’s nothing left to say, and games aren’t fun any more.
Georgia, where my grandparents live, is our Christmas destination. It’s a fourteen hour drive, but the weather channel said skies will be clear. Then Kentucky comes along. Suddenly it seems like the Arctic .
We barely enter Kentucky when traffic slows, then completely stops. Wordlessly we wonder what’s going on; adults get out of their cars. My dad gathers at a truck to find information.
The wreck causing the hold up is a few miles down the road. Police say we’ll be waiting an hour or two. After three hours we move, our van creeping forward five yards before stopping again. This continues for awhile, so when traffic progresses, my family is incredulous- is the five hour wait over? Nevertheless, we proceeded at only 5mph due to the snow; we didn’t know what to do or where to go.
We exit the highway in Cadiz, Kentucky trudging to find a hotel. After three tries with no rooms, we find a Motel Eight. At first they refuse our stay informing us that the local high school’s gym would be open for people to stay. Upon venturing towards the high school, we discover our van stuck in the snow in the parking lot.
My family becomes acquainted with others staying in the lobby. George, a man with a cat, let my sister and I take care of her so he could situate himself. Another couple, who had three cats and a baby, were actually moving to Tennessee . No matter how different everyone in the lobby is, we collaborate to help one another. I fall asleep to the buzz of my sister’s headset on a cold floor in the lobby of a Motel Eight.
When we awake, everyone works together putting their food out to make up breakfast. People with rooms offer the use of their showers. Before leaving, my family exchanged numbers with folks who were staying longer. Later, we inform them how road conditions are and about wrecks we had seen. We kept in touch with George until we were safely to Georgia, and he in Florida.
Natural disasters affect thousands every year. Spending the night in a blizzard is no comparison to the damage of a hurricane, but the experience shows the terror and helplessness felt. I yearned to simply be home in my bed, not on the floor. However, I witnessed how people come together in times of need and care for each other, doing whatever they can. In such frustration everyone stuck together; even perfect strangers lent a helping hand. Though it was a terrible vacation, I came out of it wiser. Friedrich Nietzsche said “What does not kill you only makes you stronger.” In this case it’s true.
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