I love snowstorms…as long as I get to stay in a warm house with fresh food and maybe even a fire in the fireplace. I especially love the change in routine and the change in the air.
The changes begin a few days before and include stockpiling food. I needed to as well: Not only did we need snowstorm supplies like milk for hot chocolate and snacks for cozy movie times, I had just finished a chemo week so our supply of fresh food was low to non-existent. There was no way to avoid the packed parking lot and crowded shopping conditions.
I mentally prepared to circle the parking lot but, on my first pass, I was thrilled to score rock star parking close to the door.
Entering the store, I found – no carts. Hmmm. Well, this time I actually remembered to bring my reusable bags, so I decided that, given my close parking space, I could shop by filling my bags with what I could carry, paying for those items, dropping those bags off in my nearby car, and then returning to the store to repeat the process until I got everything I needed.
I had one bag filled and was working on bag #2 when I came across an empty cart with no apparent owner! I happily snagged that and slowly navigated the crowded aisles to finish the rest of my shopping.
My last stop was the deli counter. They didn’t have an number system, so I made a mental note of everyone who arrived ahead of me so that I didn’t miss my turn. Then, while I waited, I eyed the prepared foods. A nearby man was placing his order for slices of cooked beef.
“Not too rare,” he cheerily told the person behind the counter.
Normally, the conversation would end there, but he continued.
“My grandmother cooked it well-done, so I like it that way.” Clearly, he was not from around here. People generally aren’t chatty and even less likely to share personal information with strangers. It reminded me of Pittsburgh.
“It’s my midwestern roots,” he added.
He’s got to be from Pittsburgh, I thought. It is the only place I know where people talk with everyone about anything. But then, there could be other places…
The Pittsburgher in me couldn’t resist, so in my most friendly Pittsburgh-tone-of-voice I asked, “Where in the Midwest are you from?”
Smiling and slightly apologetic, he responded, “Well, not really the Midwest.”
I got excited – I knew it was coming.
“I’m from Pittsburgh.”
I almost jumped on him. “Nuh uh! I’m from Pittsburgh too!”
So as I waited for my turn and then placed my order, we shared stories of growing up in Pittsburgh and laughed about adjusting to New England culture. We remembered knowing and talking with everyone in our neighborhood. We thought nothing of dropping unannounced into friends’ homes and them into ours. Eventually, we hugged and went our separate ways.
Later, as I stood in the slow, long line to check out, I heard a voice behind me say, “I’m going to get in line behind my new friend!”
Happy to see him, I noticed that his cart held far fewer items than mine. So I pointed that out and said, “Do you want to go ahead of me?”
He brightened even more. “Really? That is such a Pittsburgh thing to do! If you are serious, I would love it, because I have a concert to go to and I don’t want to be late.”
“I’m singing in it,” he added.
Again I noticed the “more information than usual” but it was cool to have context. I realized that I wanted to ask a million questions, like “Really?” and “What kind of music do you sing?” and “Where is the concert?” I’m sure he would have been unfazed but my social radar causes me to automatically censor myself so as not to annoy everyone around me.
He moved ahead of me in line and we finished our chat as he finished paying. I was thrilled to meet someone from Pittsburgh and get to connect to my own culture for a bit. Totally made my day. I love snowstorms.
I hope that, if you are facing a storm, you are able to see the resources around you. Even if they aren’t ideal, I hope that they can work for you in a way that enables you to get what you need. I hope that you can find a friendly face along the way and feel amazingly uplifted. And when the storm does arrive, I hope that you are able to settle in a warm and cozy place filled with good food and love.