OPINION

The blizzard brought us closer

There was something positive yet also paradoxical about the heavy and prolonged recent snowstorm.This was the resurgence of a neighborly feeling which had long been absent from crowded Attica. People who had lived for years in nearby houses or even in the same block of flats and who would barely exchange a nod, suddenly became neighbors in the genuine meaning of the term, which does not merely refer to the proximity of houses but primarily to the ties, solidarity and friendship between people. Of course, we had to be cut off by bad weather for this neighborly feeling to emerge. We all had to face the same transport hitches for a few days. Our electricity, heating and water had to be cut off for hours. And we often needed the help of our next-door neighbor. As we struggled to dig our cars out of the snow, we did not have the courage to give our neighbor a call. Still, he rushed toward us. This is more or less how the ice of a lengthy indifference and isolation was broken. When our car was finally unstuck, he took the courage to talk to us about his problem. He was worried about his elderly mother, whose heating was off for hours. And then we thought about the petrol radiator we had kept aside for such cases and gave it to him. Our neighborhood witnessed many similar incidents. We exchanged shovels, tire chains, flashlights, and lamps. We pushed cars and other people pushed ours. We offered to give people we knew and even strangers a lift to work. And so did they. Above all, we got to know each other. We felt the need to help each other out. We now feel that our next-door neighbor is not a complete stranger we don’t really care about. He is a nice person, who is willing to stand by us when we are in need but also ready to accept our help when he needs it. The big freeze will not leave our neighborhood unchanged. The usual indifferent nod will become a warm «good morning» or «good night.» In our accidental meetings we might exchange a few friendly words. Perhaps we may even take the courage to invite people into our house. In short, the next storm might find us genuine neighbors. Yesterday’s seizure is one of the largest in the last 10 years.