by Dr. Ronald E. Milliman
It seemed like one of the longest days of my life. I was in the insurance, securities, and real estate business, and my office was in East Lansing, directly across Michigan Avenue from Michigan State University. My morning started like any other day. I walked to the bus stop, about a mile from my home in Lansing, to catch the bus to my office. I had eight appointments scheduled throughout the day, one after another from 9 a.m. until about 8:30 p.m., with no breaks for lunch or dinner.
The first appointment didn’t show up. Neither did the second, or the third, nor the fourth; out of the eight appointments, not a single one showed up! I was frustrated, upset, befuddled, and yes, a little angry. I was also tired and hungry. The only times I had gone out of the office were to take my guide dog, Holly, out for her breaks. I observed it was snowing, and each time, I noticed it was snowing a little harder, but I didn’t think too much about it. After all, this was Michigan. What do you expect in Michigan in the middle of the winter?
By 9:00 that night, I realized that my last appointment wasn’t going to show up either, and it was time to call it a day. That’s when it all began!
When Holly and I went downstairs to leave the building, I couldn’t get the door open. I pushed against it, and it moved a little, but that was it. Holly just laid down, which she had never done before, as if to say, “You go ahead. I’m fine right here, nice and warm and cozy!” So, I put my shoulder to the door, and with all my force, I was able to get it open wide enough to leave the building – and fall right into a big snow bank! The snow had intensified into a full-blown snowstorm. The wind had blown the snow up against the door, making it almost impossible to open.
I tugged on Holly’s leash, and said, “Come on, Holly, we have to try to find our way to the bus stop.” Try was the key word. Fortunately, we didn’t have too far to go. I couldn’t tell where the sidewalk was, and neither could Holly. So, I stepped off the curb, and Holly and I walked the block and a half following the curb along the edge of the street until we got to the bus stop.
We waited and waited. After a while, a lady showed up. She said she was the owner of the little restaurant around the corner. She told me that she’d heard on the radio that because of the snowstorm, everything in the city had come to a halt, including the taxi cabs. The buses were running limited schedules, and they were all behind schedule. And it was still snowing quite hard.
After nearly 45 minutes, the bus finally showed up, and Holly and I were able to make it down to where we normally got off to walk the rest of the way home. Whoa! Walk the rest of the way home?! We had a challenging time just walking the short distance from my office to the bus stop. Walking from where we got off the bus back to my house was almost unthinkable. But what choice did we have?
So, we started walking. I wasn’t at all sure where we were, and I could tell that Holly didn’t know either. We had traversed that route many, many times, but never under such impossible conditions. We were simply wandering around, trying our best to follow the street curbs and whatever we could use as cues.
“Holly, stop! I think I hear a car coming,” I said. It had that distinct sound. It was a VW Bug! It slowed down, and I heard a window being rolled down and a voice asking, “Hey, fellow, do you need some help?” I said to myself, “Oh, God, thank you!” I yelled back to the person in the VW, “I sure do.” He replied, “Well, get in, and tell me where you are trying to get to.”
Now, picture me and my nearly 100-pound German shepherd trying to climb into the very tight space of the front of a VW Bug. Oh, I got in just fine, and most of Holly could get in, except for her tail. I wound up her tail so all of her was scrunched up into that limited space.
As it turned out the young fellow, Zack, probably saved us from wandering around in the snowstorm the rest of the night. He said that he was a senior at Michigan State University majoring in electrical engineering.
The VW Bug chugged its way along, slipping and sliding a little, but we finally got to my house on Dakin Street. I thanked Zack profusely for picking us up and rescuing us.
Holly and I found our way up to the front porch and into the house. I removed Holly’s harness, and she shook the wet snow off. I took my coat off, hung it up, and sat down on the couch with my head in my hands, saying to my wife, “Honey, if I told you what happened today, you wouldn’t believe it. I am not being over-dramatic in saying God has answered my prayers, and Holly and I have never felt so glad to be home!” Then, I told her about the day’s events, and how if it hadn’t been for this young MSU student and his VW Bug, we might not have made it home.
It was that night and that snowstorm that caused my wife and me to decide to move from Michigan to Arizona so I could attend graduate school at Arizona State University and pursue a new career.