April 1 2019
The story I am about to share is completely true. I am just sorry it is coming out on the first of April. It is not a joke, but rather one of the best surprises I have every had. It relates to one of my favorite TV snow live shots and meeting the woman on the other end for the first time nearly two decades later this past week.
Let’s back up to January 25, 2000. That winter I was working at WBAL in Baltimore and we had an overachieving snowstorm that dumped a foot and a half of powder in and around the city. It was wonderful and memorable for a few reasons. First, this was the first test for the new NOAA Cray computer and the models failed, pushing the storm out to sea. I did catch it on TV the day earlier, but was hesitant to for the storm when every other forecast was for nothing. I went on TV with a forecast for a dusting to a foot. For real! Meanwhile that turned out to be the best forecast.
Snow Totals From January 25, 2000
The next day, everything was shut down, but we still had to be on TV. So as expected, I was sent out on the roads to report on conditions. I realized that there was nothing new to add. If I was bored reporting, I could only imagine viewings turning the channel. So I decided to do something I was curious about. How long would it take to shovel a car out?
So I made the proposition to Tony Pann back in the studio. I was on Falls Road where the plows locked the parked cars in tight. We would spend the morning timing how long it would take me to shovel the car out, so maybe other people might have an idea of what lies ahead.
The Famous Snow Dig Live Shot
Here are two video clips I saved showing that exchange.
The next day there were stories at the station about the woman who owned that car calling to confirm if I did this. We never spoke, but I was told there was an offer to bake me cookies. I never got them, but that added flavor to the story I now had to tell for years.
I fact I have shown this video to my college students and put it on my resume real. It got me two job offers.
Fast Forward To 2019
This last weekend I was hiking in Harpers Ferry with my wife Shannon. I randomly texted my friend Kathy Martin who owns a bar in Brunswick to see if we should stop by and say Hi. They were having their 3rd Anniversary for Smoketown Brewing Station and were playing love music. Of course we had to go!
Well. while we were getting the tour and meeting her friends, I was spotted by some people as well. I do love our area being like one giant small town. But one person yelled my name with something different. In fact it was something I had wanted to hear for nearly 2 decades…
“Hey Justin Berk! You shoveled my car out in Baltimore!”
It was her! Martha Maras. The woman who owned that red Honda Civic and had the other half of my story!
There we were on Saturday March 30 2019: 19 years, 2 months, and 4 days later finally reconnecting. She took a photo, and I asked her to post it to my Facebook page to make it real. Below, see her complete message the next day:
From Martha Maras:
“In the winter of 2000 I was living at the corner of Falls and 36th street in Hampden Hon and we had just gotten 18” of snow. The plow had “plowed” me in on Falls road and I was ready to not go to work. Then I look outside and I see a guy shoveling my car out, with great care I might add, and another guy videoing it? I was very confused and sort of happy I wasn’t shoveling my car out but I was afraid to go out because he might stop! Maybe he thought it was a friend’s car? So I watched them on and off while I drank my coffee until they were done and gone. I got to work and told the story to my boss and he asked me “is your car red?”, and I come to find that Justin was demonstrating the proper way to clear and shovel out a car on the morning news program and had been asking the car owner to come out and be interviewed 😜 Well it’s been 18+ years and I finally was able to thank him in person 👍🏻 True story😂😂”
Here is my wife Shannon and I with our friend Kathy at the big event. The weather that day was perfect in the 70s
I was not sure if the original post embedded rom Facebook would display on my website, but if you have Facebook, here is the link to her post to prove this is NOT an April fools Joke. Instead, this will go down as one of the greatest surprises and completions of an open ended story I have ever had. This has blown my mind be reaffirmed remaining in Baltimore all these years. I had expected my stay to be short, and had offers to leave. I am so glad I made this area my home!
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