Gratitude and Empathy – How to make the winter a little less harsh

Most of us don’t really think about struggles that aren’t affiliated with our lifestyles, take for instance, not having a car in the dead of winter, in Western Massachusetts.

Now imagine that you have to go grocery shopping and rely on public transportation, even worse, add children into the equation and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

I’m fortunate enough to have a vehicle, but due to the high cost of on campus parking (and a handful of parking tickets), I park off campus, which on a day like today is pointless to try to access.

I decided to take the bus to the store to buy my dorm essential groceries for the next two and a half weeks. I had no clue of the harshness I would soon encounter upon leaving my room.

I walk to the bus stop which is about 10 minutes away and the snow is forcefully pounding down on the left side of my face. The walkways are plowed but not enough to walk without a bit of a struggle, but I make it to the bus stop, tired and freezing, with my finger tips beginning to numb.

I wait around for about 10 more minutes and I’m beginning to panic, the building in front of the bus stop is locked, I have no access to any place for shelter or warmth and I begin seriously considering doing some jum

ping jacks to try to warm myself up.

Shortly after that thought I see the beautiful boxy body of the Route 33 bus and I briskly walk closer to the stop, ensuring that the driver sees me waiting. As the bus nears I realize that I am going to have to attempt to jump over the near waist-high snow bank or jump into it onto the bus, I chose the latter.

Once I settle onto the bus I laugh to myself thinking how foolish I was not to do my shopping yesterday when I got off of work, but that’s neither here or there. I finally make it to the local Stop and Shop and proceed with my shopping, grabbing fresh fruit, avocados, cheese and more and begin to seriously consider calling for a cab, because the thought of trekking through the snowstorm carrying groceries was beginning to give me a headache.

I called a few local cab companies, most of which had near five star ratings, only to be told that they were not operating due to inclement weather (What!), so I had no other option than to take the bus.

Thankfully the bus arrived shortly after I fini

shed my shopping and we arrived back to campus soon after and I again had to deal with the bitter reality of my situation at hand.

I bundled up even tighter,making sure that my coat was fully zipped, my scarf was tightly wrapped and my gloves were securely on, only to grab my five grocery bags and depart the bus.

I set out in a brisk pace, trying to spare myself as much time as possible, even if it was only a minute, I looked forward to spending it indoors rather than in the frozen, windy tundra, that had become my campus.

Though I was moving rather quickly, I had to s

top a few times along the way. You see, I was losing sensation in my finger tips and the bags were pretty heavy, so I stopped, placed the bags on the ground and spoke a few positive affirmations to myself and shuffled around a bit. I did this about two or three more times before I finally made it back to my dorm.

Once inside I plopped my groceries onto my bed and stood next to my heater, breathing heavily with audible exhaling breaths. I couldn’t believe what I had just experienced, which led me to thoughts of gratitude and empathy. Gratitude for having a vehicle to use at my whim and empathy for those who live experiences like these often, especially accompanied by small children.

I share this experience to say if you are fortunate enough to have a vehicle and you see someone walking, especially in conditions like today, please consider giving them a lift and making life and winter a little less brutal.

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