Saturday, February 3, 2007


When's the last time you were the object of a random act of kindness? Did you get a chance to thank the person? If you did, you're lucky. There's nothing worse than getting petted by the wings of an angel and not being able to express your gratitude for the great feeling that it gives.

Last night, 2/2/2007 at about 9:05 PM I stopped at the ARCO station on Day Street before jumping on to the 60 WEST heading for LAX. I have a debit card with +$600 and a credit card with Fort Knox on it. Wife goes to the snack shop for a couple of hot dogs and drinks and she's carrying my only cash, one well used, totally wrinkled picture of Andrew Jackson. On the island outside I swipe one, "Denied". Swipe two, "Denied". I run into the store and luckily I'm the only one in line. I figure something's wrong on the island. I give one to the cashier, "swipte, swipe, denied". There's a line forming, but I'm really getting curly hair on the back of my neck now. I reach for card number two, slide it into the cashier's hand and watch while he "swipes, swipes, DENIED!" Now the line is four deep and wife is at my left elbow with the eats and the Jackson. I'm sweating, and I'm growling inside, not knowing what kind of astrologically, star-crossed conspiracy has descended upon me. Is ARCO ganging up on me?

At my right elbow, I feel a warmth. A gentle, swishing kind of presence. As the dogs and the drinks and the $20 all land on the counter at the same time, a very firm, commanding but extremely smooth voice says, "cover it with this." I turn to see golden hair, well brushed and aromatic. Sweet smooth cheeks with a slight flush, bright blue eyes with a deep gentleness and a smile that could light the Taj Mahal. In her hand, a simple Master Card, outstretched to the cashier. I settle my eyes into hers, give her a wan smile and gently but firmly say, "you are so kind, but we will be fine with the Jackson. Please, Ma'am, it's OK. " The warm presence hesitates, doesn't retract the card right away, insisting that she meant what she said. I smile lightly, wink at her and say softly, "we're OK, Ma'am." She retracts her arm, and returns to her place at the end of the line. I tell the cashier that the cash is for the eats and gas on number 7. He says OK, and punches it into the computer. My only money disappears. I turn to leave and I slide my gaze over to the Golden Haired Angel. I have a golf ball in my throat and a fog in my eyes, so with a weak smile and a lip-sync "thank you" accompanied by a wink, I leave and go to the pump to get what gas I got for my change from the 20. I quickly squirt the gas into the tank and leave for LAX. I thank God for my 50 MPG Hybrid. Wife and I are silent from emotion for the first forty-five minutes of the trip. We then pray the rosary, making the Golden Haired Angel the object of our offerings.

I don't know who you are, Lady. But God knows. I don't know if you even believe in God. What I do know is that two old people with credit cards that were the victims of an equipment malfunction told God to hold you close to Him, forever.

By the way, we didn't have enough money for parking, and the plane was late, so I drove around in circles for one hour before picking up our passenger and leaving LAX. We returned home on the strength of hybrid engineering, 62 Mile Per Hour cruise controlled speed, gas tank fumes and on the spirit of your spontaneous, generous act.

If the world had more people like you, there would be a lot less crying at funerals because we would all be sure that another angel had taken God's hand and walked home with Him.
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