Two men push a car out of the snow on S. Sixth Street Monday morning in Goshen.
As a photojournalist I have to be a man of the people. Journalists by nature need to be in touch with the community, building trust in order to be able to more acurately tells the stories that need to be told.
Working at a small town paper, the bread-and-butter of my work is the feature photo. Generally, a feature photo refers to one that is taken to be used as a stand-alone photo without a story and are very often used on the front page when the paper doesn't have a story with a clear, attention-grabbing photo of its own.
With the winter that the Midwest is currently suffering through, that means a lot of weather feature photos. As a photographer, when the general public is told to go inside because of a weather event, chances are photojournalists everywhere are being told by their editors to go outside.
So in the summer, when there are dangerous heat indexes and "UV action" days, that means looking for people out wiping sweat off their brows.
In the dead of winter when the polar vortex is hitting, such as now, it means going out and looking for people bundled up shoveling their car out.
Needless to say, I have been doing that a lot lately.
I also drive a Scion xB. If you're unfamiliar, that is a Toyota-made four-door wagon that looks like a toaster. It has all the winter-weather capability of one, too.
My car is a trooper though and throughout the 10 winters I've owned the car it's never gotten itself into too many situations it couldn't get out of. Until this winter.
I've gotten myself stuck no less than three times this winter. And yet in all three I was rescued by the kindness of total strangers.
On Jan. 4, during the big blizzard, I was driving around Goshen to get snow shots -- people digging out their cars, shoveling the side walk, that sort of thing. I was sticking to the main roads that had been plowed to that point and I turned onto Reynolds Street. Reynolds was fine and I saw some people down on 13th Street shoveling. The road looked fine, so I turned down it only to find out quickly that it was indeed not fine.
After mumbling, "I immediately regret this decision," to myself, I realized I could reverse out of my predicament . So I just slammed my car into first gear and tried to truck through. Not happening.
After a minute or so of revving the engine helplessly, a guy walked out of his house with a shovel and asked if I needed help. Pretty soon he was clearing a path in front of my wheels. When I managed to get going and got wedged into more snow at the intersection with Douglas Street another gentleman showed up with a snow blower. Together they had me freed in about 15 minutes. I never caught their names but those two helped me immensely.
The next time I got stuck was around 8 that same night when I went to leave the office for the day. The alley behind The Goshen News building was plowed, but underneath the snow it was all ice so my little car couldn't get any grip. A nice guy named Daniel showed up in his Jeep and offered to pull me out to Washington Street. He did and I was able to get home from there.
Then this past Friday I was out looking for more cold weather shots and I managed to get stuck on C.R. 27 near the Goshen Airport when I tried to pull off the road to take a picture of blowing and drifting snow. One guy in a car stopped and tried to push me out. When he couldn't I lost hope that I would have to call the office and sheepishly admit my driving error.
But then a gentleman in a little Chevy pick up truck showed up and was able to yank my car right out of the snow.
Goshen is full of kind strangers and it probably helps that living in a more rural area that there are plenty of people who drive trucks and carry tow straps with them. It's these people who take time out of their day to help an idiot like me who gets himself stuck and offer no criticism but instead a shovel, a rope and a tug.
Today while I was walking around town taking photos of people dealing with the cold I saw a woman who was stuck trying to pull into her driveway. I tried to help her get out but I couldn't do it alone.
Luckily, two men much stronger than me happened to drive by and noticed. They pulled over and within a few minutes and a couple of pushes later had the woman's car out and then even dug out her driveway enough for her to pull in.
So while the weather is beating us down and Old Man Winter has us longing for spring, it's individuals like these Samaritans who are willing to go the extra mile and help out a person in need.
Thank you to all the strangers in trucks, all the Samaritans who see someone in a ditch and instead of driving by they pull over and try to help if they can. You make this winter just a little more bearable.