In movies and TV shows, whenever civil society breaks down — because of zombies, meteor strike, irate Godzilla, or some such — people immediately devolve into utterly selfish, vicious animals. Glee clubs spontaneously transform into motorcycle gangs, and young professionals start bashing girl scouts in the head to steal the half-chewed do-si-dos out of their mouths.
But in real life, that’s not what happens:
Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw wonders what all the fuss is about.
The doctor who walked six miles in the snow to perform emergency life-saving brain surgery said any good doctor would do it.
“It really wasn’t that big of a deal,” Hrynkiw said, addressing reporters today at Trinity Medical Center where he is a neurosurgeon.
The publicity shy physician submitted to a news conference Thursday after after the story of his walk posted Wednesday on AL.com drew national attention.
Hrynkiw gave details of the 6-mile walk in the snow from one hospital — Brookwood Medical Center where he was assisting another brain surgeon — to another, dressed in hospital scrubs. The journey included stops to help push stranded motorists stuck in the roadway due to the paralyzing snowstorm and a stop to sit in an ambulance to warm up from the below 20-degree weather.
Petchenik also spoke to some customers at a Roswell Waffle House who stepped up to help staff “smothered and covered” by a deluge of stranded drivers.
“It was me just trying to get everyone taken care of,” said Stephanie Diggs, manager of the Mansell Road location.
Customer Randall Burks told Petchenik he got stranded on his way home from work, and wandered into the restaurant.
“The place was packed, standing room only,” he said. “ You couldn’t move. Shoulder to Shoulder.”
As Burks watched employees struggle to keep up with demand, he offered to help.
“Next thing you know I was washing dishes,” he said.
Before long, Diggs said other customers starting pitching in to help.
“I had people taking out trash, washing dishes,” she said. “I had two actually taking orders. Some were taking out drinks to everybody.”
There were big chains like the Home Depot and Chick-fil-A, which offered what services they could. The home improvement store kept open all night more than two-dozen of its stores in Alabama and Georgia for those who needed shelter. “Tremendously impressed by what you’re doing, HD. Nice to see a big business take care of neighbors,” tweeted one person.
At least one store of the fast food chain passed out hundreds of sandwiches and chicken biscuits for free to drivers stuck on the nearby interstate, Reuters and AL.com reported. (AL.com is the news site of three Alabama papers.) “It was an opportunity to help,” Mark Meadows, owner/operator of the Chick-fil-A location, told AL.com. “Some people were in their cars for five or six hours.”
Then there are the individuals and families who opened their homes, like the Walshes in Sandy Springs, who the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported provided shelter to three stranded motorists. According to the articles, surrounding neighbors also offered warm accommodations in place of freezing, stuck cars.
And so on. End-of-the-world movies notwithstanding, when everything goes in the crapper, people help each other.
Sure, there are always jerks who try to take advantage of the situation, but you get those whether the world is ending or not. Snowmageddon 2014 showed us yet another situation where it’s much more typical to find people spontaneously volunteering to serve waffles to complete strangers. Mmm… human kindness waffles.