The Unexpected Handshake

Umtanum Creek Recreation Site Bridge

On a recent trip to the Canyon River Ranch, which is located on the Yakima River in-between Ellensburg and Yakima, we decided to go on a hike a couple miles up the road at the Umtanum Creek Recreation Site. We had done the hike once before and were excited to go check it out again. The hike begins by crossing the Yakima River on a cool walking bridge. As we got to the other side of the river Lindsey, my better half, pointed out that back on the parking lot side there was a couple of guys struggling to get their truck and boat trailer up the gravel boat launch. I was in my own world snapping pictures and largely oblivious to the world around me and had not noticed. She suggested maybe I should go give them a hand. Thinking that was a great idea I went back across the bridge and checked in with the stuck fishermen.

It turns out that these two had not even gotten to fishing yet. They had just launched the boat and started pulling out when their rear tires began to spin. The truck, which was borrowed for the fishing outing, was two-wheel drive which came as a surprise to two young fisherman. It was clear that no amount of pushing was going to get this truck up the steep boat launch, so I offered to give them a tow. They gladly accepted and we realized that neither one of us had a tow rope. We made do with some ratchet straps and after they snapped once we quadrupled them up and slowly crawled the truck and trailer up the hill.

They were relived to get their trailer out of the water, and have the opportunity to get on with their fishing, and I was happy to help and get on to our hike. Just as they were saying their thank you’ s and I was wishing them a good day one of them walked up and reached out his hand. Out of habit Lindsey and I both shook back while giving each other a little glance. As we started walking, we both mentioned how surprised we were that he shook our hands in our world that has quickly turned us all into bubble boys.

As I pondered this, I thought about how strange it is that a handshake now seems so foreign. In less than a year, habits and social norms have dramatically changed, and we all have adapted. I used to shake who knows how many hands a day and not only had I never worn a mask in public, but I’m pretty sure if I had approached my bank with a mask on, I would have been asked to leave if not put in cuffs. I never thought I would shake someone’s hand then wonder if it had been a bad decision but that is the world we are currently living in. It is sad that we are in this situation and that there has been so much pain, but it is impressive to witness how resilient we can be and our ability to change in the face of a challenging situation.

It gives me confidence that as a society as we continue to face new challenges in the future that we will once again adapt and overcome. It may not be easy, but we will have the resolve to get through it. I am happy to report that we did not get Covid-19 from our interaction and I am certainly looking forward to a time when I can pull someone out, with my new tow rope, and not have a second thought about shaking the person’s hand when they thank me.

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