Letter from the Mint editor: Human gems

Of all the perks the Palouse has to offer, sense of community is the best

JENNIFER LADWIG, Evergreen mint columnist

It’s been one of those weeks. The kind where everything that can go wrong certainly does. This weekend has opened my eyes to the reality of human mortality, but also to the beauty of human goodness.

It all started when I decided to go home for Labor Day weekend. I just missed my puppy and wanted to see her, you know, all good things. But on my way back to Pullman, I got into my first ever car crash. Luckily I was the only one involved, and the car and I are fine. My hamster Sam is also fine, as her cage was seat belted in the passenger seat. Safety first, people.

I take full responsibility for the accident, I was trying to put on a CD as I had lost service on my phone while driving on Highway 26 and thus lost my music. I looked down for a split second, and looked up right as my outside tires hit gravel. A few overcorrections later and I was in the ditch, my car covered in dust and in such a position that I would never be able to get back on the road without help.

And help is exactly what came to me. Before I was even out of the car, an off-duty fireman who was behind me had pulled over and instructed me to sit down in case I’d been injured. At least four other cars stopped, with everyone coming together to make sure I was OK, and getting my car chained to someone’s truck. It was all over in about 20 minutes, with my car back on level ground and my mind and heartrate slowing down.

A nice gentleman who was heading toward Pullman with a travel trailer instructed that I stop by Washtucna, which was just down the hill, to put air in my left tires, as they had suffered some from the ordeal. In Washtucna, I crashed (pun not intended) a yard sale, asking an elder lady if she knew of a place with an air compressor, and a man nearby, noticing my distress, came up to look at my tires. He and his wife invited me to their house so they could check the air pressure and help me change a tire with the spare.

I learned that the husband and wife have three children, the youngest is 18 and the oldest is 23. The wife expressed to me that she was happy to help me, a perfect stranger, because she would hope that others would do that same for her own children.

When I started Mint, I wrote in my first letter that I hoped to find the hidden gems on the Palouse and let the community know about them. The journey to that goal has been iffy, as I try to find a voice for the section and learn just how to discover these hidden gems.

But if my recent experience tells me anything, it’s that the Palouse’s most vibrant jewel is the people who live here. I am by no means a travel expert, but I’ve been to two different countries and to cities around the U.S., and I have never met people so kind and friendly. Except maybe in Portland, but they’re so friendly it’s kind of creepy.

Parisians are rude, Greeks don’t follow the rules of the road, New Yorkers are also pretty damn rude, and people in my hometown don’t help you if you drop something. But when I came to WSU for the first time, every person I passed smiled, nodded or waved.

Cougs are even friendly across the world – if two Cougs see each other, they will say hello, no matter where they are.

The kindness I have seen and experienced, and the community I am a part of, is unlike anything I have ever seen. People post about a lost dog on the WSU Free and For Sale page on Facebook and the next thing you know, there’s an army looking for the dog. The Palouse has many gems, I’m sure, but none shine quite as bright as the people we get to surround ourselves with here in the wheat wasteland we call home.

Keep up the good work, people, and thank you for being such a great home away from home out here in Pullman. And the next time you see a girl on the side of the road holding her hamster cage, don’t forget to lend a hand. But role down the windows, don’t open the door, you never know how dangerous that hamster might be.

Jennifer Ladwig is a senior multimedia journalism major from Washougal. She can be contacted at [email protected]