Grit Blogs > Waking up in Kansas

In Praise of Big, Strong Men

By K.C. Compton

Tags: blizzard, friends, K.C. Compton,

KC ComptonLast night in the raging blizzard that has complicated our lives here in the Midwest for the past day and a half, my car got stuck in the snow two blocks from my house. Two stinkin’ blocks!

I rocked back and forth so much I was afraid I would tear up my transmission. No neighbors seemed near (though I secretly wonder if they were peering out of their curtains saying, “I am NOT going out in that mess to get her out of the middle of the street…”) and I was feeling truly abandoned and miserable. Finally, I bit the bullet and called Caleb, our associate editor here at GRIT. I whined and threw myself on his mercy.

Caleb has four-wheel-drive, broad shoulders and a big shovel. He also has a can-do attitude that helped get him the editing position in the first place and is a good hand in a crisis. He said he’d be there as soon as he could, so I turned my car’s heat up and waited. After a few minutes, I got bored and thought maybe-just-maybe … what? That the snow had suddenly shifted around and it would be smooth sailing to my driveway now? That I had been mistaken and the car wasn’t REALLY stuck and even if it was, if I only turned the wheel this way and held my mouth that way, everything would be copacetic and I’d be on my way?

Like this vehicle, my car was completely stuck, and I was only two blocks from home! 


But no-o-o-o-o. This was not the case. I was actually quite stuck. However, by rocking and gunning it and rocking and gunning it, I managed to move myself down the block about another 300 yards while waiting for Caleb to ride over the hill on his charger. This put me in front of my neighbor Adam’s house and when Adam heard me, he came out with his shovel and started the snowy equivalent of earth-moving to try to move some of the avalanche from in front of my car.

Then Caleb showed up with his friend, also broad of shoulder and bearing a stately shovel. They shoveled and pushed and shoveled and pushed and soon my little Saturn Astra (“Astra” is a Latin term meaning “lousy on snow”) scooted to the bottom of my driveway and lodged in the snow there. This outcome was fine with me – at least I wasn’t in the middle of the road, begging to be run over on the rare chance an actual snowplow showed up on my street.

I thanked Caleb profusely. And get this: I offered him and his friend a strong adult beverage to take the edge off the cold … and they refused. They had to make it back home and they didn’t know who might need help on the way back, so they’d better keep their minds clear. If you’d like to see a definition of character, you don’t need to look any farther.

I turned off my car and went in to warm in front of the fire. After an hour or so, my doorbell rang and it was the neighbor on the other side of my duplex, Tyler, telling me he’d shoveled my driveway off, dug my car out and he thought we could get it in the garage now.

I wanted to cry. Not because I had been worried about my car’s precarious perch, but because it was just so great that this young guy – whose face was so cold I could barely make out what he was saying – had busted his butt taking care of me without being asked and just because he wanted to help out.

After we got the car rolled into the garage (whooo-hooooo!) I texted Tyler’s wife to say, “You married one of the good ones.” We texted and laughed back and forth and she said he was a “work machine,” and that his dad is just like that, too.

Helpful friends came to the rescue. 

My dad was like that, too. My son (who lives in Seattle) is like that. And men who are “just like that” – men who do what needs to be done, who work because there’s work to do, who like to be useful and challenged and know that their strength and ability can make a difference in other peoples’ lives – are my favorite kind of people. Life goes better with these kind of men.

One of the biggest problems in our society these days is that we have such a bizarre understanding of what it means to be male. Macho is the order of the day, and the cultural message to little boys is that you have to be tough as nails, intolerant of any weakness, unemotional and unfeeling and maybe with a big streak of mean if you’re going to call yourself a man.

But this is the dark side of the best that men are or can be. They’re hard-wired to be heroes. It’s in their DNA to rescue and assist and lend a hand and do for others. Tapping that quality in a positive way could transform our world.

And me? I’m hardwired to make pies for men who do kind and beautiful things for me. I’m going to have a busy weekend.

k.c. compton
2/6/2011 9:26:31 AM

Feeling good in our hearts -- that's what it's all about, isn't it? Thanks for all these great comments. There's so much in the news right now that makes me doubt humanity's ability to create a peaceful, workable world. These stories help restore some degree of that faith. I just wish the good guys and gals -- all over the globe -- could overpower the baddies who seem to live only to control and dominate other human beings and grab for all the toys. But .. for this morning, I'm contemplating multiple kindnesses and also pies. --kc

misty dawn seidel
2/5/2011 9:28:19 AM

@Nebraska Dave - I truly enjoyed reading your story this morning. Thank you for sharing that and thank you for being one of those real life superheroes!

nebraska dave
2/4/2011 8:14:26 PM

@K.C. we guys love to rescue damsels in distress. I'm not sure at what age it starts but it's even instilled in my six year old grandson. Before the February storm one night at rush hour time the phone rang and the voice of my cousin Julie was on the phone. She knows that I help with just about anything folks need help with and told me that she had a flat on the Interstate and if I could come and help. Well, my grandson loves super heroes, so when I told him we had to go on a rescue mission to change a tire for cousin Julie he looked at me and said, "Rescue? Whoa, I never done that before." We accomplished the mission and on the way home we talked about how real life heros don't wear masks, nor do they have a cape, nor do they have super powers but just help people when they need help. After some thought about what we had done he said, "Grandpa, I feel good in my heart." So there you have it from a child's point of view. We guys do what we do because it makes us feel good in our heart. Have a great rescue day.

cindy murphy
2/4/2011 5:45:45 PM

Oh, thank goodness for those men (and women!)....and their toys! A friend of mine from Oklahoma asked if I noticed how much some men enjoy helping total strangers get their vehicles out of ditches and drifts after a snowstorm, commenting that some even drive around town, looking for people to help. My Dad was one of those men driving around town, looking for people to help. He had an International Harvester Scout when my brother and I were little - I'm not sure of the exact year, it it was from the sixties. Dad's Scout had a winch on the front, with a heavy chain and hook. He loved that Scout and winch....and snow. Sometimes he'd take my brother and I with him on his rescue missions. It was always exciting for us kids, especially when it was at night; there seemed to be an added thrill element then...but I'm not sure who had the bigger thrill - us kids or Dad. I had coffee with a friend this morning, who spent the better part of yesterday trying to dig herself out of her small farm's drive with a shovel. She said a guy in a tractor seemed to magically appear, and sitting up high in the cab, he reminded her of an angel. Plowed the drive and then was gone, presumably off to help someone else. Glad you had a couple of these angels come your way, KC.

misty dawn seidel
2/4/2011 11:39:29 AM

I blogged about my experience

k.c. compton
2/3/2011 2:31:21 PM

@Misty -- yes, do blog about that. I love that story! And good for you and your neighbors. Think what kind of world we'd live in ALL of us interacted with people that way. --KC

misty dawn seidel
2/3/2011 2:21:47 PM

I commend Caleb and the other guys who took the time to help. Tuesday night, we had a knock on the door, a kid asked if he could borrow a shovel. Hubs gave him a shovel, and then took our vehicle down the road to assess the situation. He came back and got his skid loader. After quite some time, he finally got them out. They went driving by the house, only to return about 20 minutes later. They couldn't make it down the road to get home, so the dad slept on one of our couches and the son slept on the other that night. Later, an online friend of mine asked if they offered us any money, because calling a tow truck alone would have cost them. I laughed and said "Out here, you don't call a tow truck; you call a neighbor." That's just the way it is here. The next morning, I watched as the neighbors got together with tractors and skid loaders and discussed who was going to move snow at which part of the road. That's the true definition of "community" and "neighbors". Hmmm, think I'll do a blog post on this.

hank will_2
2/3/2011 1:18:29 PM

Guys love to put their skills and toys to good use -- especially good guys like Caleb -- and the guy in the massive white truck. See -- there is a good reason to have some massive trucks running around out there. :)

2/3/2011 1:13:45 PM

Wow, my face matched the GRIT-red border of our site multiple times in reading this. Thanks for a very thoughtful and sweet post. Sincerely, we were glad to be able to help. Sometimes the caveman in me (that she more elegantly called hard-wiring) isn't intuitive enough to know how to help certain situations, at least not in the moment; it's nice – and easy – when you know exactly how you can help.

k.c. compton
2/3/2011 12:37:27 PM

PS: My dad wasn't a tall man, so by "big and strong," I mean spirit, heart and attitude more than physical size. --KC

k.c. compton
2/3/2011 12:24:29 PM

Indeed! Fie on them, I say Fie! And I won't mention the other neighbors who sat in their SUV for a few minutes watching me struggle, then when I'd moved far enough out of the way, went zooming past, throwing up snow all over me and my poor little car. These are the same neighbors, I notice, who walk their BIG dog twice daily and never, ever, ever carry a poop bag. I've wanted to leaflet their house with "Our neighborhood is not a toilet" fliers, but ... that's another blog ... --KC

susan m
2/3/2011 12:24:23 PM

Thank goodness for nice men with big cars! A stranger in a massive white truck pulled my car out of the movie theater parking lot yesterday. I broke two of his towing ropes before we made any progress, but he didn't seem to care. He barely stopped long enough for me to thank him. As soon as he pulled my car out, he was off to find another stranded victim! (No thanks will be given to the contracted snow-plowers who continued to pile snow around my car as I was trying to dig it out with nothing but gloved hands and rain boots.)