John Cummings embodies the spirit of Christmas.
News never stops, so when you're in this business for awhile, you get used to going to work on holidays, during snow storms, while there are tornado warnings; the news never stops. In fact, usually during those natural disasters, the news heightens and it is important someone is around to write about it.
So on Christmas Eve, I was driving from my home in Jefferson City to The Fulton Sun. It was snowing, but for most of the way, the road was reasonably plowed, considering snow was falling about an inch an hour during the early morning hours.
But what I did not account for was the slick nature of the road. I was driving 50 mph, still 20 under the speed limit, but probably too fast. I spun several times into the center median near Route TT on Highway 54.
That accident was no big deal. I probably wouldn't even call it an accident. I was able to get out of the median and back on the road to Fulton. In fact, I was thinking, "I wonder how many others have spun out today. There's a story here.'
When I got off on S. Bus. 54, I started to slide again. I thought I would be OK.
I did everything people told me I should do. I pumped my breaks and tried to stabilize my wheel.
It did not work. I ended up by Motel 76 on the side of the road with small bushes on one side me of and a ditch on the other. I was lucky to not be on my side.
But this is not a story about me. This is a story about John Cummings.
Cummings was at the gas station nearby. While I was on my phone with my parents, trying to figure out if they could come pull me out with their large truck, I saw Cummings walking toward me. He walked up to the side of the road and asked if I was OK.
Then, he said he would get his truck and pull me back on to the ramp with chains.
Cummings was my Santa Claus.
It was snowing and I was at least 200 yards away from the gas station. And it was cold. He could have stayed where he was and let a tow truck try to get me out.
He could have even ignored that I was there, but he didn't.
Christmas is about sharing and giving. It's about loving one another. Cummings did all of that.
He cared enough about helping another human being to walk through the snowfall to help that person. He cared enough to back his vehicle down the exit ramp, which was incredibly slick, to pull mine out of a ditch.
He showed me what Christmas is really about. I know that after this, if I see someone on the side of the road during a snow storm, rather than just take a photo like a journalist should, I will make sure the driver is OK and does not need help getting out.
So thank you, John Cummings, for showing me the true meaning of Christmas.