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The Day that Started on A Treadmill and Ended With A Cup of Cocoa in A Bar

This is the smile of a woman who doesn’t know she’s about to have a bad day.

Because it was snowing outside, I ran on the treadmill. I attribute the next decision to exercise-induced endorphins.

I noticed that my husband forgot the traction mats I gave him for Christmas. My doting (and healthy because I had just finished a run) heart said, Bring these to him for the drive home from work. Just in case he needs them. The snow had been unexpected. The conditions were perfect for finding yourself stranded in a ditch on the side of the road.

The handy, dandy, traction mat.

So, I loaded everything I thought he’d need for a safe drive in the Jeep and set out for town to bring my husband the gift of my presence and gear for his safety.

I kid you not. In the hour it took for me to run and get cleaned, the road conditions changed… I was unaware of the adventure that awaited me until my tires hit the freeway surface. A sheen of ice hid beneath the snow flurries.

I am stuck in a ditch and can’t get out.

This might be the appropriate time to mention, the reason I was so excited about running was a slip on ice prohibited exercising for the past two weeks. So, you see where this is going.

There was no Jorgen (Just a Friend ) to save me. The cars behind me drove by, leaving me to a fate that sent my overactive imagination into overdrive. Situations like this explain my aversion to suspense books and movies. Seriously, this was prime, stranger danger, CSI episode material. 

My companions were a cell phone that died, because cold drains batteries, and a disposition that alternated between cautious and sad, sad, sad. 

Sadness changed to indignation when I landed on my backside because I slipped on the ice. Again. The internal and external dialogue shifted from despondent to disgusted. I’ll sheepishly admit my vocabulary would have stranger danger gasping in indignation. 

A mile and a half walk later, I had moved out of Montana, chosen the clothes I’d take with me, and organized a rough draft of my goodbye letter. But first, I had to get my Jeep off the road. It is impolite to leave a mess on the highway.

So, I called Cliff, the owner of the local tow truck company. Cliff is known far and wide. He is everybody’s best friend on days like this. I’ve called him to help others I’ve seen stranded on the road. The call began with me explaining that I needed his services.

Shortly after the call ended, I realize Cliff needed a payment. One of my superpowers is bravery for others. I’ll climb mountains and swim crocodile-infested waters for someone else. If I have to do it for myself, I want the water ph tested, and I need a backpack full of gear to change when I reach the other side. So, determined to be there for Cliff, I hopped into my PT Cruiser, drove ten miles an hour on the highway until I reached the stranded Jeep.

Cliff and Monti planning my rescue.

Remember me mentioning Cliff being a best friend in weather like this? It quickly changed as Monti, the highway patrolman that Cliff called on my behalf, waited with me. He pointed to the fence behind the car and said, “It could be worse. You could have run into the fence, and we’d be chasing cows.”

I laughed because he was right, and the things will get better phase of the story began. Monti’s humor and companionship chipped away at the discomfort of the situation. Stuff happens in life. I’ve been there for people. This time, it was my turn to be on the receiving end of small-town grace. Life tapped me on the shoulder and winked. Isn’t it funny how it’s easier to give than receive?

And perhaps, that’s my lesson for 2020. To stop looking over my shoulder when good things come my way and graciously accept goodness. Within this revelation came an awareness of the need to be kinder to myself. So I’m doing more of what I like, and less of what I think would make other people happy.  This is where you say, something like I can relate, or me too.

Justin and Kim helping make the end of the day better than the middle.

The story of January 2nd, 2020, ends with Cliff, Monti, and me parting ways. Cliff took the car to a tire shop. Monti moved on to the next accident on the freeway. It turned out I was one of ten people, who nature tested within that hour. I drove to the local bar. Shaken, I took a seat and exhaled the lingering stress. “It’s been rough. Can I have a cup of cocoa?”

Three cocoas and several small-town stories later, my world returned to being the happy place I write about.

I’ll end here thanking you for stopping by to share a moment in what I like to call the far, far north. It’s a place where the weather is cold, hearts are warm, and there is always somebody around to lend a helping hand.

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