I read and talk about online social networks, but when you’re in a difficult situation, like, say, when you drive your car into a ditch at 10 o’clock at night, you appreciate the wonder of real world social support networks. Tonight my little girl and I were watching a DVD when we heard the local July 4th fireworks. In less than 60 seconds we were in our Honda Odyssey and on the chase. I didn’t stop to grab my cell phone or even put on shoes. Fortunately my little girl had the good sense to slip on a pair of sandals.
A mile down our road is a white barn owned by the University of Vermont, with a dirt lane used by farm machinery leading into a corn field for great fireworks viewing. While backing out I swayed off the path and ended up in a serious ditch, with the back right tire sticking in the air and the Odyssey at a good 30-degree angle.
Enter the real world social support network. We walked to the paved road and waved down a family in a Dodge Caravan. The Caravan was the 5th car we waved to for assistance, though only a couple of minutes transpired until they stopped to help us. They called the police to report our situation and location. Within 10 minutes a South Burlington policeman arrived. I don’t think I ever met a friendlier police officer. He introduced himself, checked out the situation and called for a tow truck. 10 minutes later the tow truck arrived and pulled the Odyssey out of the ditch.
I may not have had my cell phone or was wearing any shoes, but I had a credit card with me which took care of the towing charge. AAA wouldn’t cover it, the driver informed me, because it was more than 10 feet off the highway. Fine with me. Worth every penny.
With our technology and economic means, we aren’t often in situations where we must depend on the kindness of strangers and on the social network of people and services that support people in need, but it’s good to be reminded that they exist.