From the side of a snowy road during a whiteout storm, what’s a better beacon of hope than a Chevy truck wrapped in Christmas lights?
By Chelsea Fagan
Even though we don’t get a ton of snow in the Chesapeake Bay region compared to other areas in the country, we do get our share of whiteout winter weather, as we did during the blizzard of 2010-2011. I’m sure that someone from, say, North Dakota would probably scoff at what we went through, but it was pretty significant for us in Maryland when we were hit with two consecutive snowstorms reaching up to three feet in accumulation. We were unprepared, to say the least.
Sure, there were some minor preparations: salt sprinkled on roadways, advisories sent out, school mercifully canceled in advance for excited students and exhausted teachers. But it was all pretty ineffective in the face of a real winter storm. If you’d looked online at the weather forecast for upcoming days, it was simply marked “Blizzard,” with no further explanation. While I was lucky enough to have a few friends and a warm, cozy house well-stocked with food to help me through the long weekend ahead, many in our city weren’t so lucky. That’s where our friend came in, the intrepid engineer-hobbyist-mechanic who loved few things like he loved his Silverado. Having covered it with Christmas lights, he set out to be a one-man rescue mission. (The one cop who stopped him about the lights only did so to compliment him and wish him luck driving in the inclement weather.)
Initially, his intention was simply to pick up friends who were stranded at home and bring them over for a few days of hijinks at what had become the communal fun house, with hot cocoa and movies for days. But each time he set out, he found there was inevitably someone who had attempted to go out in a car that was clearly not equipped for the weather, someone who was hoping to beat the odds to pick up something at the store. He encountered them stuck in a ditch or caught on the side of the road, freezing cold, waiting for expensive help to come along and tow them out. Instead, our Angel of Preparation would appear with his decorated truck lights shining through the zero-visibility storm—an announcement that they were saved.
I can only imagine what it must have been like to see what appeared to be a Christmas tree barreling down the road in front of you, the only vehicle on the road for miles, seemingly unaffected by the insane weather that surrounded it. It must have deeply reaffirmed their faith in humanity to see someone who, without hesitation or expectation, was here to bring them back to safety. Children, our friend later told us, were particularly big fans of his mode of transportation. They considered a ride from him—even one back to their boring old house in the middle of a snowstorm—to be great fun, while parents were more grateful for the helpful lift. One after the other, he took them all where they needed to go, never expecting a thing in return.
Who knows how many people he rescued that weekend while simultaneously rounding up my own jolly gang to come over and hang out, but undoubtedly each one has a place in his or her heart forever for that giant red truck wrapped entirely in glowing Christmas lights.
I remember a friend once seeing a picture of it and saying, “Ugh, that is the tackiest thing I’ve ever seen!” and my only feeling sorry for her, because she’ll never know what it’s like to be rescued in your moment of need by the human equivalent of Frosty the Snowman.
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Chelsea Fagan is an editor at the online magazine “Thought Catalog.” Her work has appeared in Le Monde, Grantland and The Atlantic, among other publications. Her forthcoming first book, a tongue-in-cheek guide to starting life as a grown-up, will be published by Running Press in 2013. On Twitter she’s @Chelsea_Fagan.