Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Friendly Manitoba"

That's the handle on our licence plates.... and we get ribbed for it alot of times because when you're driving down the road and get cut off by some maniac driver and catch a flash of that message on the plate, "friendly" is the last thing you think of!

So alot of people question our label of choice - but this morning, I think I gained a little insight.

Nothing like a blizzard and a bunch of stuck vehicles to bring out the "friendly" in people.

This morning my husband got stuck, not once but twice, getting ready to leave for work. For some reason, he decided to leave his vehicle parked on the road.... and as the snow continued to blow and drift, and the ice-covered streets slowly became buried under a fresh foot of snow, his car was marooned.

He went out to start it, pull it into the driveway and let it warm up before heading out - only when he actually attempted to pull into the drive, his little car became hopelessly stuck.... completely blocking the road.

My day began with him rousing me out of bed to put on my boots and get outside in the tail end of this storm to help push him out. (Brrrrr... definitely not my wake-up call of choice!)

And there was not much that he & I alone could do - but no problem! In the space of less than 5 minutes, two vehicles stopped and their drivers lent a hand.... the car was quickly moved off the road under the group effort.

(Now mind you, the drivers didn't have a lot of choice here.... if they decided NOT to help, they wouldn't have been going anywhere regardless - the car was completely blocking their path!)

Then again, 20 minutes later, when he was actually ready to leave for work, he backed out onto the road, turned to drive off - and found his tires hopelessly spinning down the glare ice under the snow. Once more it was only a matter of minutes before two more drivers stopped to lend a hand... one older lady (who we nominated "driver" for the purpose of getting my husband's vehicle moving) and one younger.

He never phoned me after finally getting on his way, so I'm going to assume that he got to work without further incidents.

When it was my turn to venture out with the kids, I passed more than one scene like ours earlier that morning: people helping others to continue on their way when help was needed. And after dropping off the kids at daycare, I myself stopped to help an elderly gentleman with two passengers who'd skidded off the road and into a snowbank.

And after resuming my commute, I started to think about all the people helping - about how it's a universal kind of understanding around here that if you need help, someone will stop to assist.... and if you see someone who needs help, you feel compelled to lend a hand.

We ARE friendly.... maybe because we have to be (like not being able to continue on YOUR way without moving someone in need whose blocking your path), but mostly because we're united here in our communal battle against what mother nature so often throws our way.

Whether it's the people with snow-blowers helping neighbors without, or stopping for the group pushing/shovelling/lifting of vehicles embedded in snow.... or even joining in on sand-bagging efforts to survive the floods that these spring blizzards lead to (even when your home is not one in jeopardy).

Everyone pitches in, usually with a smile on their face, so that we can all continue on our way.

There's a community spirit that's not often found in a city of 700,000 people.

Just one thing I love about living in "Friendly Manitoba".

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