I was supposed to fly home on Wednesday, but—as everyone knows—the Atlanta and Birmingham airports were cancelling huge numbers of flights, so my return to Birmingham was delayed until Friday night. On Wednesday, I caught a taxi across town with a colleague from another university. On the trip, I relayed information to my friend about the conditions in Birmingham and at Samford, including vignettes about the extraordinary acts of kindness that were popping up everywhere. I mentioned Mark Meadows, the local Chick-fil-A owner (and Samford alum), who passed out free sandwiches to motorists stranded on Highway 280 and then turned his restaurant into a haven for those who couldn’t make it home. I recounted the stories of our resident students who spontaneously helped their commuter friends and members of the faculty and staff who were forced to stay on campus during the storm. I told him of the emerging tales of courage and selflessness. And then, glancing in the taxi’s rear view mirror, I saw the reflection of the face of our driver. He was smiling. I realized that he had been listening to every word of the past few minutes. “Sir,” I said, “do they pass out free sandwiches in D.C. when it snows?”
He laughed and said, “No way. Where are you from?”
“Birmingham, Alabama,” I replied. “Come see us sometime and we’ll give you a sandwich.”
This Thursday at Convocation in Reid Chapel (promptly at 10 a.m.), we will recognize our front-line employees in facilities, food service,and public safety for their selfless service. If you want to show up to applaud them, arrive at Reid shortly before 10 a.m. This recognition will take only a few minutes and then you can be on your way.
The world is better because of Samford, no doubt, but also because of the generous spirit of the good people of Birmingham. We were reminded last week that it is still the Magic City.