TRAVELERS WELCOME: Winter Wisdom 2014

The winter blast from last week will stain our minds for a while, or at least until the next storm. Probably just like many of you, I am ready to get past last week and focus on thoughts of sticking my toes in the sand and aqua blue water of the Bahamas. I would be remiss if I did not mention an age-old phenomenon that appeared all over Marietta last week.

As rare as the phenomenon is now, several Winnwood residents said it used to be all too common. I promise friends this is not folklore; let me explain how it works. A traveler by foot, bike or car requires some sort of assistance as they walk from the road to the nearest house or business. In decades past, travelers would ask for a meal or maybe to be put up for the night. Homeowners usually welcomed people in and it was seen as common courtesy. As decades passed, the idea slowly died and the safety of families from travelers became a political topic. Furthermore, today with the invention of gadgets like cell phones and services like Triple A, the traveler and the home owner have become accustomed to not bothering each other.

Now that brings us to last week’s arctic snowstorm. On Tuesday afternoon, I was walking through the Winnwood lobby and saw a lady I did not recognize. I walked up to her and said, “How can I help you, Ma’am?” She explained that her car ran out of gas on Whitlock Ave. “Sir! Can I please use your restroom, charge my phone and warm up a little?” The worn lady had a smile of exuberance when I said, “Of course you can!” I later saw her sitting on the couch in the front lobby enjoying the fireplace and joking with residents. Over the next couple of days, Winnwood welcomed many more visitors in similar situations through its doors.  Some travelers stayed a few hours and several even spent the night. Trust me when I say our staff saw many looks of relief on the faces of stranded motorist looking for refuge. Knowing their acts of kindness made a difference was all the staff needed to feel it was worth the extra effort.

Similar stories happened all over Atlanta on those wintery days in 2014.  Also, the rebirth of an age old phenomenon of letting strangers/travelers into our homes or businesses to seek shelter was awakened.  I hope this personal hospitality will stay around for a while! It reminds us we are not computers. I say, “Help someone and you will be helped in return.”

Have a blessed week,

John