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Neighbors gladly lend reporter a helping hand

From the sidlines

One thing I've always liked about living in a relatively small community is that you get the chance to meet a lot of people. It seems there really aren't strangers, just friends you haven't met yet.

That point was driven home to a jaded old sport reporter last week during our big snowstorm.

Last Wednesday was a miserable day. The 14-inches of snow I woke up to on my driveway didn't lift my spirits much. Yeah, it's pretty, but that wears off fairly quick. My wife woke me up early to see, announced she was working from home, and I dove back into the warmth of the bedcovers.

A bit later our office manager, the lovely Rose, called to say our publisher didn't believe we had that much snow and we should all get to work.

So I got up, snapped a cell phone picture of my buried truck, and sent it to him. I never heard back, but knew it would be hours and some shoveling before I could even think about moving. The neighborhood dogs were all out frolicking in the snow. Maggie, the black lab, happily bounded through the snow and begged for a treat. My little Aussie, Tucker, took to the traveled paths and the one set of tire tracks going up our hill. The neighbor's enthusiastic pit bull, Mable, chased Tucker around. He fled from her with a 'help me' look on his face and finally found sanctuary behind me.

I would finally lift the snowy shroud from my truck a bit later, find a track for the four-wheel drive, and make it through the deep snow up the hill and on to work for a couple of hours.

I went home during late afternoon, and walked in to a totally dark house. It seems the power had just gone out. 'I told you the power was going to go out,' the wife said, pleased with her clairvoyance. As I sat in the dark and listened to the heavy snow crack limbs in the nearby woods, I thought, 'Yeah, she should be a medium.'

We lit a few candles and I called the CRPUD to inform them the power was out. 'We're having a major power outage,' the recorded message said. I pushed '1' as directed to inform them of my seemingly minor problem. An actual live person nicely took the call, but didn't offer any idea of when the electricity would return. I thought about reading a book by candlelight or flashlight, but then recalled I really hadn't had lunch, and dinner time was upon us. I called the PUD again, and asked a nice young man named Eric when the power would come back on and if it was out at Bing's. He wasn't sure about the time for electrical rejuvenation but said Bing's wasn't dark.

'It's Chinese food tonight,' I announced, and headed out. As I walked out the garage, I noticed the lights snapped back on. It was only about a 40-minute outage.

I picked up the Chinese food and headed back home, but my truck started pulling to the right. 'What's that,' or words to that effect, I muttered.

It quickly became apparent my right front tire was going flat. I was still muttering, wondering if I could make it home. It turns out I couldn't.

I pulled over in a subdivision and started trying to figure out where my jack was, and wondering if I even had a spare.

Momentarily, old friend and St. Helens softball coach Jeff Edwards came by. He lived right across the street from where I stopped. 'What's the matter, Brew?'

'Flat tire' I responded. I took him up on his offer to help. We weren't getting very far and another neighbor, Jeremy drove by. 'Need help?' he asked. He was gladly welcomed. He brought a floor jack from his house, jacked up the truck and loosened the lugs. Another neighbor, Kevin, joined us. We tried to figure out how to get the spare down from under the bed, but got stymied. Jeremy would finally figure it out. It all worked out and we were done in about 20 minutes. All of us were a bit wet and grimy, but I was extremely grateful. At the pace I was going it might have taken me a couple of hours.

During the time we were there, at least half a dozen people stopped to offer help. It was heart-warming. Where in the big city would you get so many offers over a simple flat tire. I am truly thankful for all who helped and offered to help.

I was worn out by the experience, but I kept remembering we're off to Cancun this coming week. There will be no snow and the temperature should be around 80. It'll be nice to get out of the wet and the cold for awhile, but I'm coming back here where the people are warmer still.