I guided our red minivan into the left turn lane, the one closest to the median, and the man standing on it, leaning against the traffic sign, looked up, searching for a driver in the line to lock eyes with him. His shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops on a cooler-than-usual Florida day, along with the cardboard sign he held, indicated need. I caught his eye and nodded.
I am the woman who obsessively locks whatever can be locked—the front door, the screen door, the garage door, windows, car doors. I stash valuables; I buckle my kids tight; I creep silently to the peephole when the doorbell rings, wary of strangers.
The man walked toward the van as I rummaged around in the center console and the tote bag on the front seat. I’m a mom; it’s in my job description to travel with snacks. My 2-year-old daughter grinned at me in the rearview mirror, and I locked eyes with her, too. My fingers finally landed on what I knew was somewhere in the bag, and I emerged with a chocolate chip granola bar.
I wished I had more, but it was something. I need to make care bags to keep with me.
I rolled down my window and offered it to the man.
“Would you like a granola bar?”
He had a crooked smile, weathered skin, and kind blue eyes. I wonder what his story is, but does it matter?
“Thank you, ma’am.”
My throat was tight and all I could do was look him in the eyes and nod.
I rolled the window back up as the light turned green and we pulled forward. I glanced at the rearview mirror again as my little girl strained against her carseat straps to watch the man walk away.
“Did you gave him a ganolga bar, Mommy?” (One of those words I secretly hope she mispronounces forever.) Continue reading “The kids are watching [our response to those in need]”