There it was — the surprise ending to an incredibly balmy winter, a late-season snowstorm greeting us as we arose on Tuesday morning.
I personally had been aware of it since about 2 a.m. and, like at least one other person I know, became so excited I had a hard time getting back to sleep. If I had that section of time to do over again, I would go make myself a cup of cocoa and sit at the window watching.
Oh, the value of hindsight …
They begin to show us what we are made of, however, these little surprises that life throws at us. They can bring out the best in us, and the worst, and sometimes both the best and worst in all of us.
I was to fly out of Albuquerque on Wednesday morning, headed back to Western Pennsylvania for a visit just prior to Easter. Since Interstate 40 was sealed off, as were most or perhaps all of the other routes into the Duke City, I had to stay in Santa Rosa until Wednesday morning, when the road would presumably be reopened. (It was.)
Many other folks found themselves in the same situation.
Both Santa Rosa and, later on, the airport, were great places to study human nature and see how we advanced primates respond under emergency conditions. Some folks look out only for themselves, knocking aside anyone or anything that threatens to interfere with their goals. Others are out there taking care of people, making sure we all get through what is, for some, a harrowing experience.
I felt, for example, for the little lady who approached me as I was leaving Denny’s. It was about 9:30 Tuesday night and they had just reopened the Interstate but I doubt many would have risked it. She was in her 60s or perhaps older and wanted to know what I thought about the road to Albuquerque and what “they” meant by “winter road conditions.”
Being from Phoenix, she had never driven in real snow, did not know what black ice is … you get the picture. Being from Pennsylvania, I gave her some real concrete ideas of what those conditions meant, and some real strong advice on staying holed up for the night.
The airport was another lesson in human behavior. Oh, it always is, but a change in conditions intensifies it. Some people are perfectly willing to realize that everyone is experiencing a change of plans, and that pushing your way to the front of the line, slamming doors in people’s faces, and fussing at airline employees isn’t going to help. Others — truly a minority — need to go back to Manners 101 for a refresher course.
Yes, I had the pleasure of driving into Albuquerque during morning rush hour and landing in Pittsburgh during evening rush hour. None of this politically correct “drive time” stuff — in big cities, it’s rush hour, pure and simple. Once again, some folks are watching out for others, while a rude few look out for number one.
The mammoth (I think his name was Manny) in the children’s movie “Ice Age” said it in unforgettable terms, and we see it every day, by those who do, and those who don’t — “When you’re part of a herd, you take care of each other. That’s part of what you do when you’re a member of a herd.”
Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at: