I’ve been working almost entirely from home since March, mostly so that I can be home in case Amy needs something and Cindy is unavailable due to her sleep issues. On most days I also get to save an hour otherwise spent commuting, but that’s usually soaked up by extra time “at work” or in other ways. Once such other way happened this morning. We had some heavy rain and thunderstorms, which seemed to have subsided when we heard a *crack* from outside. We’re all too familiar with that sound from last October’s storm, so we immediately went to the windows to see which tree or limb had fallen where. It turned out to be a pretty big one, effectively blocking our street in both directions. Our street happens to be a popular commuter shortcut, and during rush hour often has a line of cars half a mile long. It’s also heavily used by emergency vehicles getting across town or over to the next town, so a blockage is serious business.

First thing to do was call 911 and let them know of the issue. Next was to put on some shoes and see if I could clear at least one lane. This limb was big enough that I seriously doubted I could move it very far myself, but I figured if people saw me trying then someone else might come out to lend a hand. That would have been in their own best interest, after all. Sure enough, two guys immediately got out of their cars to help. Between the three of us we were able to get the limb swung around enough to clear one lane. Then a miracle happened. A guy with a big truck pulled out of the queue, got out, and pulled out a tow strap. He immediately set about wrapping it around the tree while I directed traffic. Naturally, I let the two guys who had helped get on their way first. When Truck Guy was ready we pulled the limb further around, and then the two of us rolled it enough so that both lanes were free. Then he went on his way as well.

The police showed up just after the action concluded. That’s not a knock against them; they clearly had plenty of other things to deal with. I went out and talked to the officer who was there, who said they’d get DPW to take a look at it. When I got out of my shower, I was totally unsurprised to see guys with chainsaws and a wood chipper across the street, and everything’s cleared away as I write this – a little over an hour after the branch fell. What I think stands out about this is that four total strangers spontaneously got together to deal with a problem that wasn’t really theirs (the tree might be in front of my house but technically it’s on town land right next to the street), in a way that was completely complementary to the contributions of the local government, then the whole setup just dissolved when it was no longer needed. It’s like a flash mob with a purpose.

All in all, this wasn’t quite as dramatic as saving the drunk guy in the water on Long Beach Island, but it was certainly a good jolt of adrenaline to get my day started. I think my boss will understand why I’m answering email a bit later than usual this morning.