"I'd be glad to help you", she said to the old man, as he was struggling to put groceries in his car.
"Thank you so much. I didn't even ask you", he said.
The elderly gentleman stands there with a forced smile on his face and a half step away from losing his balance. He waits patiently for his new gal friend to help him load his three bags of "what older people buy". You know - mustard, a beef pie, four frozen dinners, a half gallon of milk, BenGay. I'm assuming...
"I'm just not able to bend over so much anymore. It's my back", he informs.
"Listen", she says. "You're not alone on that one! I'm younger than you. But boy, my best bending-over days are almost gone!"
They both laugh.
I'm watching this grocery parking lot episode of The Good Samaritan Part II unfold right next to me and I'm hoping - just hoping - that it doesn't end there. I feel like a hidden cheerleader, encouraging from the sidelines,
"GO girl GO! GO girl GO! Go for it. Ask him! Don't just load his groceries in his car! Surely, with your wit and quick response, you've done this before. C'mon, girl! Don't disappoint me!"
I roll down my window a little, just to get a better listen..
"Thank you, daughter. You're way too kind to me."
She freezes. I think the word daughter gets to her. Then, she says it. (I jump up and down! Well, not literally, but my heart and stomach does!) I see her mouth move with the very words my own script would say for her.
"Thank you, dad. Do you mind if I call you dad? You see, my pop died a few years ago and I've been searching for a new one. I think you'd do just fine."
I can't see his reaction but it appears like he's wiping his eyes. She gets her purse, pulls out a pen and tears off a piece of her grocery receipt and writes something. She hands it to him and says,
"Look. Here's my cell phone number. Call me any time you need something. Promise? OK. Good. Helping you is as good for me as it is for you."
She bends over and hugs him good bye, then waits and watches him drive off. I think she sees me looking, so I turn away. The woman gets in her car, sits there for a few minutes, holding the steering wheel just staring out through the windshield. Then she turns on the ignition and drives off.
I, on the other hand - the witness - sit there on the lot for an additional ten minutes. I too am staring out the windshield and holding on to the steering wheel. I can't move. I feel like I just witnessed a sacred space of pavement, a special connection between two people in a loading zone. It's surreal alright. I take a deep breath. Then I grab my purse to get my keys. And that's when I find the other half of the torn grocery receipt.
Story-telling. A dream of mine.