The kindness of strangers / by Susie Lubell

Mornings are always hectic. My husband and I have a schedule where he takes our son to preschool on certain days and I take him the other days along with our baby daughter. And if the stars have aligned in my favor, the baby will wake up just as we are leaving. I put her in the car seat and we're off and I've had all morning to get my son ready, make lunch (how much do I hate making lunch), pack his bag and exit. With no help from hubby because on these mornings he leaves at 6:30 am so he can pick up early from school to go swimming. It's a nice little schedule.

Unfortunately for me, most mornings are not so smooth because the baby's up at 7:30 and my son refuses to take off his pajamas, and there's no bread for his pbj, and he wants to brush his teeth himself, and he'll only wear his blue shoes, which we can't find.

Today was a good morning though, for him at least. No tantrums. No battles. We were out of the house by 8:30 at which time I noticed the car was on empty. We have a VW and it actually tells you approximately how many miles you have left before you're out of gas. We had 5.

At this point I remember that my wallet is in the trunk of our car in the backpack carrier from the hike we went on the day before. So we leave and my son is singing in the back and my daughter is staring at him (she's usually screaming because she can't stand the car - anyone with some insight on that one has a personal invitation to write in). We get to the gas station and I look in the trunk to find that the backpack is not there and thus no wallet. My husband had apparently unloaded the car which makes perfect sense now but had not crossed my mind at the time. I like to blame it on the fact that I'm lactating and all of my brain cells are slowly leaking out of my boobs.

Now I'm on 0 miles. I can't go home. I can't buy gas. So I walk into the station and explain to the man that I need a $5 favor and I'll bring the money right back and I just need to drop my son at preschool. He's looking at me like I've lost my mind when the guy behind me says he'll give me five bucks.

It is, as my friend Heidi would say, an iconic Torah moment. I told him I'd pay him back and please give me his email blah blah. But he refused (I also probably wouldn't give my email address to a nutty woman who leaves her two kids in the car at the gas station). I gave the guy a hug which I'm sure freaked him out and then after I put in a gallon and a half, I drove past him and gave him a little hands together namaste sign and he smiled.

It's so refreshing to find there are really good people in the world. And to know they fill up at the Valero on the corner of San Antonio and California.