Maintaining Perspective Through The Winter of 2015

It hardly seems possible at this point, but as of January 23, 2015, Boston and the surrounding area had barely registered a single snow flake.

Now just 17 days later – as of this writing – the region has faced three major snow storms in a span of 17 days and accumulated a total of more than 76 inches, as measured at Logan Airport on Monday night. By the time you read this, there is a good chance that the snowfall will be closer to 80 inches and the city could be facing another storm of six or more inches.

With all of that our city services and maintenance workers around the city have been working extra hard to make sure that city streets and sidewalks are open for travelers.

But those are the facts of the storm.

The more important thing to pay attention to at times like these are the stories of the storm.

Are neighbors helping neighbors? Are human services workers having success in getting to the homeless and the homebound?

Are residents digging out their neighborhood fire plugs to assist the fire department? And are people generally taking the storms in stride? Or are they allowing the frustrations to spill over.

I bring this up because as I was driving around Everett on Monday, trying to assess how the snow removal was going – and come up with some news to share – I had the opportunity to meet one of the city’s workers as he was busy with his work.

Anthony Fragione, a city hall maintenance worker, was operating a snow blower on the sidewalk along Broadway, in front of City Hall (see the related picture this page) and I stopped to talk with him.

“It’s been a crazy couple of weeks,” said Fragione. At that point a young man walking along the sidewalk stopped briefly and thanked Fragione for clearing the sidewalks.

“We do the inside of the building too,” said Fragione continuing. “So it’s like doing double duty, but hey pitchers and catchers report in 10 days, I’m just looking forward to baseball.”

On the surface this is a pretty simple exchange and not really something to write about.

Still, it got me thinking. A hard working guy, doing a thankless job, in miserable conditions and looking forward to Spring baseball as a way of thinking of something better.

But, that’s not all of the story, because he was thanked by a total stranger while doing that thankless job. And his daydreaming about baseball helped keep him in a good mood. He wasn’t miserable at all.

It’s easy to let all of the snow and cold weather, the missed schooldays and the missed work days, delays on public transportation or bad commutes, it’s easy to let those thing seep into the way we carry ourselves and effect what we show to the world.

It it is so much nicer when someone makes the extra effort to keep things in perspective and people remember to thank those who are trying to make their day easier.

The thing I remembered while I was standing there talking to Anthony Fragione and watching his quick interaction with that pedestrian, is that all of this will be over soon.

Spring will come, and then the summer and all of this mid-Winter madness will be a distant memory and a story that we tell. We’ll be thinking about these cold days, when the temperatures get up to 100 degrees and we have no rain for a week.

My guess is that Anthony will be looking forward to the opening of Bruins Camp or the kickoff of the Patriots next season by then.

At least he won’t be running a snow blower. Will he?

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