On Saturday, I did something I really didn’t want to do.
And wouldn’t you know it, the whole thing turned out great. My intuition never fails to be wrong.
The event was to help a group that was handing out food boxes. I don’t volunteer to help with anything nearly enough, but every time I have helped with a food drive before I have enjoyed it.
This week, though, it was very cold and I had been busy all week with work. The last thing I wanted to do on a Saturday was to go stand outside in the cold.
Also, the volunteer group was filled with people I really don’t know very well. I certainly respect them but was worried I would feel awkward and cold much of the time.
I wasn’t in a very good mood when I drove there, and honestly, I had been feeling kind of blah for the last few days of the cold and busy week. Thinking about it now, I’m feeling a little annoyed once again.
Why can’t things be easier for me? Why is it so cold every day? Why are you wearing those shoes?
My mood changed and my troubles started to feel pretty silly when I arrived and saw the long line of cars waiting for the food giveaway to begin. I was not sure where to park, so I parked near the road and started walking along the line of cars, thinking it would take me to where the food would be handed out and I could help.
The giveaway was at our fairgrounds, and I walked and walked, and then walked a little more until I came upon a woman who seemed to be in charge. She asked if I would go up ahead and help direct traffic. She was getting the cars to split into two lanes so that the traffic would not back up into the street, and asked if I would direct traffic. So, I walked up to where the two lanes met, found a good place to stand and waited along with the lines of cars.
I was not really sure what I was doing, but while I waited I would look up and down the line every few minutes and pretend to nod my head knowingly, even though I was actually nodding unknowingly.
When the cars finally started going, I held up the traffic on my left with one hand, and then motioned the traffic on the right with my right hand while trying not to slip on the ice. And after I let a few cars threw, I stopped the traffic on the one side and started it up with the other.
It was fairly simple, but it felt nice to do something to help.
It also felt powerful to be able to stop a line of cars and make other cars move. It’s not a feeling of power you get every day, and I was enjoying directing traffic.
“I bet my brothers would be jealous of me if they could see me now,” I thought to myself as I wielded the power of stopping and starting cars and trucks..
At the same time, I was also getting cold and found myself having to move around so my hands and feet didn’t freeze.
I forgot all about the cold, though, when several people in the line started opening their windows as they came up to me.
“Would you like a handwarmer?” several people said to me.
“Can I get you a bottle of water?” one woman asked.
“How about a hot chocolate? I brought 20 to give to the people who are volunteering,” another very kind woman said.
“You need some boots. I have some in my car you can wear. Those shoes don’t look warm at all,” one woman said. (She was right, I chose a terrible pair of shoes to wear that morning.)
“God bless you for being out here today,” several people said.
“Thank you for doing this,” several people said. For most people, I had no good answer.
“I’m just happy to help,” I said when I could think of how to respond properly. “You stay warm, too, and drive carefully.”
It made me feel pretty stupid about not wanting to be there earlier. I wasn’t really doing anything except directing traffic at one small spot at the fairgrounds, but now people I had never met before were offering me drinks, hand warmers and even boots.
After a few hours that seemed like 15 minutes, the line of cars was much smaller, and there was no need for Nick the Traffic Director anymore. I picked up a few traffic cones, checked in at the places where people were doing the real work of handing out food, and then made the long walk back to the car.
As I got into the car, I realized just how cold I was, and I enjoyed the warm air blasting on my feet and hands.
And as I drove home, I felt a little wiser, a lot more humble and much more cheerful. I was also very thankful.
Thankful for all of the blessings in my life, thankful that I had the opportunity to help in a small way that morning, and thankful for all of the people in that line who had reached out to help me. It was a nice way to spend a Saturday morning.