There is a store in town that I rarely enter. It's one of those little mom & pop slash gourmet type stores that is always far more expensive than the bigger chains. They sell quality food at a higher than quality price, so it's not a common stop on the Grocery Shopping Express. Every once in a while I find myself there to stock up on hamburger meat (they sell the good stuff, so it's worth it) or to pick up something that's on sale. So, today, Christopher and I popped in for some yogurt - advertised at 1/3 its normal price. For a girl who consumes yogurt like it's going out of style, this was an important stop.
Lately I've really been enjoying going shopping with my boy. He's big enough to walk along the whole way now, and he's getting better and better at following directions. We talk about all kinds of things and he has this great ability to get me to notice the precious sights of life that I would normally overlook. Even in the grocery store. Plus, this particular store has those carts with the car attached to the front, which he absolutely LOVES. At all of the other stores, I do my best to sprint past those enormous carts so that I don't have to figure out how to navigate a semi through the aisles, but the car-carts at this store are built smaller. So they're fun and useful. This, I like.
As we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that there were few cars there and looked forward to having the store to ourselves. While navigating my mammoth vehicle into the liliputian parking space, I noticed a little old man sitting in his car across the aisle. My attention paid to his presence really ended there, until after walking around my car to get the boy out of his car seat, I noticed that I'd parked too close to another car and had get back in and select another space. While it didn't phase me all that much, I did have the passing moment of embarrassment that this man saw me do all of this and that he was probably being very critical of my poor parking skills.
Now about 2 minutes behind our schedule, Christopher and I were finally walking, hand-in-hand up our aisle in the lot toward the store. As we approached his car, the old man got out of his car and started walking toward us. Although I was smiling at him, he paid little attention to me, choosing instead to ask Christopher how old he was. I told the man that he was two.
"A boy of two needs a truck," he said.
"He sure does," I replied, thinking that he was referring to Christopher's favorite shopping carts.
At that point, the man opened his trunk and pulled out a paper bag. I wasn't sure what to make of all of this, but figured that he was going to pull out a toy truck from the bag. Maybe he'd done some shopping for his grandson and had some extras - we've had friends at Church share their overflow with us before. You can imagine my astonishment, then, when he reached into the bag and pulled out a beautifully hand-crafted wooden firetruck. It was simple and classic in design, nothing overly fancy or complex.
"I make these out of scrap wood for the children in the neighborhood," he told me. "It makes me happy to give them away."
I thanked him profusely, touched beyond belief by his generosity. Christopher and I waved goodbye to him as we walked into the store, and I stood in the doorway as he drove away. He had just been there, sitting in his car waiting for a child to share his gifts with. He brought joy to our day, and by accepting his kindness, we brought joy to his.
I'll admit that it took me a while to get past the notion that this was weird. Strange. Odd. So unused to simple generosity and the kindness of strangers am I that I even thought, just for a second, "Maybe there is something wrong with this. Maybe I should throw it away." As I pulled my yogurts from the shelf, I had to force myself to accept the fact that this was a kind man, performing a kind act.
Today, on the Feast of the Guardian Angels, not only was I given a gift for my child. I was given the opportunity to entertain an angel, unaware.