Here’s the story of how a stranger brought me some much-needed Christmas Cheer on a cold, stormy December night of 2007. For those who don’t know me, I am a practicing Hindu (Ahem! Ok, Ok, “practicing-only-on-festivals” kind of Hindu) and so I do not celebrate Christmas per se, but being almost non-religious in my outlook towards life (not to be confused with my “having faith”), it really doesn’t matter. Festivals are fun and it doesn’t particularly matter which religion is “responsible” for my share of fun, gifts and yummy food! Anyway to continue on with my Christmas Story…….
It was a stormy freezing December day (I believe it was a couple of weeks ahead of Christmas, but it could have been any other day in December-January period of 2007. My memory is not that great anymore!). At that time, I was in Illinois working as an IT Contractor for a large US Retail and Pharmaceutical Giant in their Corporate headquarters. For some crazy environmental reasons, Chicago was experiencing one of its worst winters that year. And my colleagues used to joke that my love for all things wintry and snowy was the root cause of their daily suffering!
|“Illinois weather in winter 2007-2008 was unique; different from any other winter weather in the prior 110 years…..A large number of warm-season type storms were intermixed with a very large number of winter storms. Indeed, the 2007-2008 Winter had an odd mix of all types of severe weather, including thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, heavy rains, and damaging winds. More thunderstorms occurred in Central and Northern Illinois than in any previous winter.…..Illinois also experienced numerous snowstorms, four major ice storms, frequent sleet, and five storms with blizzard conditions. In December, Illinois had seven severe winter storms, two more than the prior record of five set in December 1977. The winter of 2007-2008 had 18 winter storms, well above the average of seven storms, and equal to the record set in 1977-1978…..Chicago had 60 inches of snow during the 2007-2008 winter….20 inches above average and the seventh largest amount on record since 1890. On days between winter storms and warm season type convective storms, there were periods of other extreme weather conditions, including days with temperatures at or below 0°F, and other days with temperatures of 40° to 60°F. In warm periods with moist air and melting snow cover, numerous floods occurred and heavy fogs developed. Numerous storms and harmful between-storm conditions caused property damages, many deaths, and hundreds of injuries……” [Read the complete weather analysis report here.]
Anyway, to continue…. It was a stormy freezing December day, and just like any other weekday, I was working non-stop. I had reached office at 7:00 am that morning and was still working when the office was declared closed due to “inclement weather” around 3:00 pm in the evening. (Oh, how I miss those “inclement weather” announcements….Unexpected holidays are always so much better than planned ones!) .
That particular day and that particular moment, I was a little too engrossed in my work to leave immediately….