Teachable moments, January 2023
As the calendar flips to a new year, we find ourselves in the throes of what’s proving to be a humbling winter. Even the boldest among us are not immune to the snow, sleet, ice, wind and frigid temps.
Heck, I even saw a few teenagers don what appeared to be winter coats during recent spells of winter weather – a rare occurrence, equivalent to UFO sightings or the potential for a Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl appearance! (I am holding out hope this could be the year … for a Bigfoot discovery.)
But in all candor, caution and safety is of utmost importance in the Upper Great Plains when storms are at their worst. We know weather impacts travel, school and activities get canceled, and remote work options can be leveraged in occupations where possible. It seems cancellations and working from home are becoming more the norm. Personally, I don’t believe winter conditions are worse than previous decades, but enhanced and reliable conveniences have made it possible to learn, work and stay warm, fed and safe within our homes.
During a recent winter storm, I asked my kids what one convenience they couldn’t go without during a storm. Rather unanimously, they answered, “INTERNET!” As an electric utility guy, I grimaced a bit, then geared up for the opportunity for a teachable family moment.
My kids’ eyes begin to roll in unison, as I explain most modern conveniences depend on one thing – electricity. I am just starting to roll, when my 11-year-old son, wise beyond his years and a bit argumentative at times, chimes in, “Wrong again, Dad. More than anything, we are dependent on other people. You don’t know how to fix stuff that breaks.” I can’t argue his point, my ego slightly damaged by an 11-year-old.
And then, FREEDOM! (Said in Dave Ramsey/Braveheart style. If you know, you know.) The snowplow roars by our home.
You see, while working from home on occasion might be an option, with seven of us confined in a house, the only solitude is typically found in the bathroom. (Not the most creative working environment, but it is quiet.) I determine to meet my work deadlines, I must do so from my office.
Now in my other quiet thinking space, my car, I reflect on the previous conversation with my family. Outside, I see neighbors helping neighbors, motorists assisting others, utility trucks enroute to restore an outage, service trucks, snowplow operators clearing roads, first responders keeping people safe, essential workers supporting hospitals and nursing homes, media providing critical updates and retail outlets supplying the fuel, food and hardware to get us through the storm. My son’s words ring louder, and truer than ever, in my head.
Thank you to the people who “know how to fix stuff” when the storm blows in.
Winter humbles us all (and my 11-year-old humbles me, too).
Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of NDAREC. Contact him at email@example.com.