I don’t know how many times over the years I have heard folks say, “I can’t wait until I get home. I’m going to sit back and relax and watch TV, or read or do whatever. I’ll just be glad not to have to go to work.”
Well, lo and behold, I didn’t see a lot of that kind of chatter on Facebook or Twitter during Baton Rouge’s big freeze a couple days ago. And, judging by the phone calls and messages I received, folks were more than ready to be anywhere, other than home.
On Monday night, I was pretty good at home. I watched a little television and read some. I spent a lot of time watching TV or scrolling the Internet for stories about whether schools, city and state government offices were going to close and what roads were being shut down.
Given my job at Southern University, I already knew what was going to happen there. I went to work Tuesday, but there was not a lot to do because the campus was closed and a decision was being made about whether to shut down on Wednesday, too.
The freezing temperatures, along with sleet and snow outside, forced me to remain in my office. I like to walk around a lot, but that habit was threatened big time Tuesday.
I started to get a little antsy. I finally went outside a couple of times but was chased back inside by the cold winds, sleet and good sense.
Still a little bored, I took one of my coffee mugs outside and started taking pictures of it in different locations on the campus. It was fun. I later posed the coffee mug at different sites at home and in the neighborhood.
It was silly, I admit. But I was getting agitated and stir crazy.
On Wednesday, I was at home all day. Television news folks warned people not to venture out on the roads if they didn’t have to be out there. Various government and law enforcement officials stressed how dangerous some of the roads were and that the major highways were closed.
About 1 p.m., I couldn’t take it anymore. I got in my car and drove to my favorite convenience store near my house. The store was closed.
The store owner either cared a lot about his employees, or some roads near his house were closed and made it impossible for him to get to his store. Or, it could have been both. I wish for the former.
Undeterred, I headed in the other direction, only to find many other stores closed. Shoot, even the place of the golden arches was closed. That’s when it hit me that this bitter cold and dangerous conditions thing was really serious.
Then, something else hit me on the way home. As I was driving in my warm car, listening to a sports talk show, I saw two guys walking down the street. They looked like they were chasing any place warm.
That brought everything home to me. They, and probably hundreds more like them around Baton Rouge, would have loved to be as agitated as I was with my warm home, television and food at the ready.
They would have given anything to be agitated by being stuck indoors watching too much television and having too little to do.
I had been snapped back to reality for a minute. This was the hard place in the world that I was ignoring and shouldn’t have.
I know your question is: Did I pick them up or offer them anything? The answer is “no” and “no.” I should have. I have given guys like that food before, but not on Wednesday. Too many scary news stories have dashed that idea. I guess I’m not hero material.
In the meantime, I can suggest folks contact the homeless shelters around Baton Rouge and see what kinds of things — money, clothes, furniture, whatever — they can use to help our needy.
At least I can do that.
Edward Pratt, a former Advocate editor, is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.