I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now. Kids slept in schools. Some spent a dozen hours or more in their school bus. People slept in cars and in the rows of Home Depots and Krogers. 1000s of emergency calls hit 9-1-1. People abandoned cars on the highway. Towns opened up shelters for the night. Some compared it to the zombie apocalypse show Walking Dead, which is shot in town.
My long walk gave me some time to figure out a few lessons about making difficult decisions. Regardless if your difficult decision involves weather or something completely different, maybe these tips can help:
1. Give your gut some credit. It’s probably right.
I’d left work at 1:49 pm and made less than two miles in 90 minutes. I’d narrowly avoided rear ending a guy after hitting a patch of ice. I’d seen a guy lying in the grass in front of the tree he’d slammed into after flying through a hole in his windshield. And I wasn’t even out of the neighborhood yet.
The idea to abandon my truck seemed crazy at the time.I was stuck in an intersection at the bottom of a steep incline populated by two-wheel drive compact vehicles redlining their hamster-powered engines on the ice. The steep decline behind me prevented me from turning around. The day held about two and a half more hours of daylight. So I made a “business decision.” I hadn’t seen anyone yet try this, but I knew I wasn’t going anywhere soon, so I pulled my truck into someone’s front yard, grabbed my laptop and an umbrella, and started walking. My idea to abandon my truck seemed crazy at the time. Later, hundreds of people ended up doing the same thing after idling for several more hours.
2. Don’t sell yourself short.
Before committing to the walk I stared at the map route on my phone for several minutes. I’d hit the “walking” option on my phone (first time ever) and seen the recommended route, distance – 9.9 miles – and time – several hours. I’d gotten out of the truck and walked about 100 yards to get a better view of the hamster-wheel cars slipping on the incline ahead, and then returned to my truck. I ended up wasting about 15 minutes chewing on a decision I knew I was going to end up making, just because it just seemed too unusual to be right. People around me were inching along.
After 15 minutes of walking, though, I was passing those same people while they idled in place, and I knew I’d made the right call. if I’d believed in my own crazy idea sooner I might have made it home before dark.
3. Don’t get distracted by comfort.
After the first hour of walking I stepped into a McDonald’s to use the restroom. The booths were populated by 20-somethings drinking lattes and laughing about how they were stuck. I’m not sure where they ended up sleeping but I knew I didn’t want to spend the night in a crowded fast food restaurant, so any time buying food or drink was only going to make what was to come next worse. I moved on quickly.
4. Trust that God has your back.
After I left McDonald’s I saw a guy behind a Maserati (there are a lot of those in Buckhead). He was giving it a push over an icy patch. I was impressed that he’d help someone driving a Maserati. He sent them on their way as I passed by and fell into step beside me. I said, “Well, you did your good deed for the day.” He laughed and agreed and asked me where I was going. I said, “A long way.” I told him the neighborhood and that it was about 8 miles away.
He laughed again and said, “Great! Me too. I have a walking buddy.”
I couldn’t believe it. As we walked and talked, I learned that he also worked in the communications industry, in an office in Buckhead, and had kids my age who attended some of the same schools. We bonded instantly while laughing at the drivers burning rubber on the ice.
We ended up making two more stops for warmth and rest, the second in his parish about 2 miles south of my house. We finally parted ways. When I finally sat in my favorite chair and let my wife and kids pamper me, it dawned on me. I said to my daughter, “My new friend’s last name is Panone. Kaylyn, what is your friend Sarah’s last name?”
We laughed and laughed. God had put my daughter’s friend’s dad and I together to be one another’s walking companion home, through tens of thousands of cars and ice and people.
What difficult decision have you faced recently?