July 19, 2004

The Friendly Flash

by Linda Anderson Krech

Sometimes making a difference in another person's life takes only an instant. Ask Joe Downey. Were it not for a passing motorist, a total stranger (even to this day), Joe might not be around to tell his tale. It's a small story with a big reminder.

Rt. 17 in S. Starksboro Vermont is the kind of road that keeps you on your toes, so to speak. Winding, dark and hilly, with narrow shoulders and steep banks, the road beckons you forward but strongly discourages you from stopping. That's why Joe Downey and his family were so surprised when an approaching car flashed its high beams at them. A police car, the most common impetus for such a signal, would have nowhere to lurk on Rt. 17. Joe slowed down as he approached a curve in the road, preparing for ... he knew not what.

It was a moose. About 1800 Ibs. of moose. Kind of like a brick wall appearing suddenly on the road. He was so big that the headlights actually shined under him, so massive that it was hard to identify the shape right off. All the seat belts were tested in the car that Sunday night as Joe screeched to a stop just in the knick of time. "My wife and I were up front, nose to nose, bumper to knees, gawking at this moose who was gawking at us. He just stood there with a moosey look on his face. .. totally unalarmed about what could have happened." It was Joe and his family who understood how close they came. Close to death. Close to pain and broken bones and destruction. Close to a serious disruption of their plans for a while, or more than a while.

It takes a presence of mind to flash those beams at a moment's notice. It takes an immediate shift of attention to the needs of approaching strangers and away from one's own private and personal experience. It takes a willingness to help a fellow traveler, with no reward or recognition. Thanks for averting a possible disaster, whoever you are. And for reminding us opportunities to make a difference may arise in an instant. Then they're gone. In a flash.

Linda Anderson Krech is a staff member at ToDo Institute.

Posted on July 19, 2004 9:18 PM
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