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365 Reasons to Smile – Day 140

you-can-observe-a-lot-just-by-watchingI love to people watch. If I had the time, I could do it all day, but I rarely have the time and even when I do, I’m usually interrupted. Generally, I’m interrupted by the people whom I am watching.

For the record, I don’t stare or act inappropriate when people walk by me. But, for some reason, they know I’m watching and take that as an invitation to start talking.

During a recent shopping trip with my children,, they both wanted something to eat.  I gave them a few dollars and told them I’d sit down and watch our packages while they went and bought food. No sooner had they left when I observed a woman with a walker approaching. As she got closer, I smiled politely, but I definitely didn’t stare.  Apparently I did something that she took as an invitation, because she began telling me about her recent knee operation and even asked me advice about having a total knee replacement.

I don’t think I look particularly intelligent nor do I look like I possess any kind of medical knowledge. But that didn’t matter, and we chatted for several minutes.

That wasn’t an unusual instance, and after years of engaging in conversations about the personal lives and health problems of receptions, cashiers and random strangers, I’ve come to realize that there might as well be a sign over my head that says, “She’ll listen, because people simply interest her.”

I like to people watch, but what I like even more is that strangers trust me enough to give a little bit of themselves to me.

And that always makes me smile.

Day 140; People Watching

Day 139: Sharing Interests with My Children  Day 138: Eleanor Roosevelt’s Best Advice  Day 137: Weird Human Behavior about Garbage  Day 136: Postcards from Heaven  Day 135: Mickey Mouse  Day 134: Generous Souls  Day 133: I’m Moving On  Day 132: A Family That is Really Family  Day 131:   A Personal Motto  Day 130:  Mork and Mindy  Day 129: The Bears’ House  Day 128:  Veterans  Day 127: Doppelgangers  Day 126: Letting Life Unfold as It Should  Day 125: The Constantly Changing Sky  Day 124: When History Repeats Itself   Day 123: The Love Scene in The Sound of Music Day 122:  Helen Keller  Day 121:  The Welcome Back Kotter Theme Song  Day 120: Sheldon Cooper  Day 119: Having Permission to Make Mistakes  Day 118: A Diverse Group of Friends  Day 117:  Family Traditions Day 116: The Haunting Season  Day 115; Life Experience Day 114:  Changes  Day 113:  The Wooly Bear Caterpillar  Day 112: The National Anthem  Day 111: Parents Who Care   Day 110: Good Friends Day 109:  My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss  Day 108:  A.A. Milne QuotesDay 107: Spending Time Wisely Day 106: Parades  Day 105:  The Peanuts Gang Dancing   Day 104:  Sharing a Secret Language   Day 103:  The Electric Company  Day 102:  Doing the Right Thing  Day 101:  When Siblings Agree  Day 100: Being Optimistic  Day 99: Trying Something New   Day 98:  The Sound of Children on a Playground  Day97: Good Advice  Day 96: Red and white peppermint candy  Day 95:  The Soundtrack from the Movie Shrek Day 94:  Accepting Change    Day 93:  True Love     Day 92: Camera Phones   Day 91: Bicycle Brakes    Day 90:  HeroesDay 89: The Cricket in Times Square  Day 88:  The Grand Canyon  Day 87: Unanswered Prayers Day 86: Apples Fresh from the Orchard Day 85: Being Human  Day 84: Captain Underpants  Day 83: The Diary of Anne Frank  Day 82: In Cold Blood Day 81: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry  Day 80: The Outsiders   Day 79:  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Day 78: The First Amendment Day77: People Who Touch Our Lives   Day 76:  The Rewards of Parenting    Day 75:  Improvements   Day 74:  Family Traditions   Day 73: Learning From Our Mistakes  Day 72: Live Music  Day 71:  Sleeping In  Day 70:  Grover  Day 69:  A Good Hair Day   Day 68:  A Sense of Community   Day 67: Kindness   Day 66: Living in a Place You Love   Day 65: Gifts from the Heart   Day 64: The Arrival of Fall  Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird   Day 62: Green LightsDay 61:  My Canine Friends  Day 60:  Differences   Day 59:  A New Box of Crayons   Day 58: Bookworms  Day 57: Being Oblivious  Day 56: Three-day Weekends  Day 55:  A Cat Purring  Day 54: Being a Unique Individual   Day 53: Children’s Artwork  Day 52: Lefties  Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer  Day 50: Campfires  Day 49: Childhood Crushes  Day  48: The Words “Miss You”  Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us  Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures  Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers  Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly  Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents  Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories  Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want  Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon  Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap  Day 31: Perspective  Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans  Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows  Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads  Day 25: When Harry Met Sally  Day 24: Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck  Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love  Day 20 Personal Theme Songs  Day 19:  Summer Clouds  Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s VictoryDay 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids  Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His MasculinityDay 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of HayDay 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still RememberDay  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessonsDay 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment   Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles  Day   3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs  Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

A Question of Angels

I’ve been thinking about angels lately.

I’m not referring to generous, charitable and kind people who make the world a better place.

I’m referring to guardian angels.

I don’t remember giving much thought to guardian angels before I had children. But when my son was a toddler, he got so sick I had to take him to the emergency room. The doctors ran tests, couldn’t determine what was wrong, prescribed medication anyway and sent us home.

My husband was out of town, and my daughter wasn’t yet born.

Needless to say, I was feeling a bit alone as I cuddled my son. But then he stirred and looked up toward the ceiling.

“Mommy,” he said, “that’s a really pretty butterfly.”

I had no idea what he was talking about, but after that, he slowly began to improve. Later, I told a friend what happened, and she simply shrugged and said, “He probably saw an angel.”

I’ll never know, but I will always angels

Just like I will always wonder about other circumstances when heartache or disaster were narrowly avoided by some unexpected intervention.

Two weeks ago, I was driving home from work when I heard a familiar ding and a light came on indicating my Jeep was low on gas.

I ignored it. I had kids to run to activities, and I was sure that I had sufficient gas to make it until morning. I knew the light was just a warning. After all, I’d been driving for more than 30 years and had never run out of gas.

As the saying goes, there’s a first time for everything.

Because my children attend school out of district, they don’t have the option of riding a bus. The north-south interstate between our house and the school complex is a truck route with lots of congestion and dangerous driving.

And that was before construction began.

For over a year now, the stretch of the interstate between us and the schools has been limited to exceedingly narrow lanes with only Jersey walls on both sides. There’s been no place to get off the road if needed. Even though the  speed limit has been lowered to 55, most people still go 70. This summer, there were so many  accidents, including several fatal ones, that the interstate seemed to be shut down on an almost a daily basis. The recent presence of police patrols has slightly improved the situation, but the road is still scary.

So, when my Jeep stuttered to a stop in the middle of one of the two open northbound lanes in the construction zone, I knew my decision to delay filling up the gas tank had been a fatal one.

My daughter and her BFF thought the situation was funny and started calling people. My son told me not to panic. I turned on my emergency blinkers, called 911 and looked in the rear-view mirror as semi trucks and cars barreled down the interstate straight at us.

All I could do was pray.

Then a miracle happened.

Even though the interstate was busy and I was stranded where there was absolutely no place to get off the road, no one hit us. All the vehicles behind me managed to swerve into the other lane. Just as I got off the phone with the 911 dispatcher, a tow truck slowed behind me, pulled around then parked in front of my Jeep. The driver got out and motioned me to roll down my window.

“Ma’am,” he said, “You can’t stop your car in the middle of the interstate. It’s dangerous.”

I’ve always thought of myself as a fairly intelligent person who only occasionally makes stupid mistakes (like driving kids around on an empty gas tank), but I never thought I actually look stupid.

“Yeah, I know, ” I said. “I ran out of gas.” I have to admit that didn’t make me sound any more intelligent.

“Get out of the car, and I’ll tow you,” he replied.

There were four of us in the Jeep. On a busy interstate. During rush hour. With no shoulder. And we couldn’t all fit in the cab of his tow truck.

I was trying to tell the kids to jump over the jersey wall into the construction area when another car pulled up behind me then stopped.

My neighbor, who had overheard my entire 911 call because his daughter had been on the phone with his wife, had come to rescue us. He took the kids to school and me to the gas station. There, the tow truck driver unloaded the Jeep and waited to determine if an empty gas tank had been the problem.

It had.

When I asked how much I owed or if he needed my information, he said, “You don’t owe me anything” and walked away.

I was speechless.

I wasn’t sure if I could thank luck or a guardian angel.

I’m leaning toward a guardian angel.

In a world when life sometimes comes at us with such intensity that we make mistakes and get off track, guardian angels somehow ensure that we don’t completely run off the road. And in a world when we often try so hard to ensure our lives go in the direction we want, guardian angels often steer us to where we are actually supposed to be.

There are times in my life where there is no explanation as to why things go right when they shouldn’t have and why things seem to be going wrong when I’ve done everything to ensure success.

And maybe there are times when guardian angels drive tow trucks.