Last night, as I pushed my cart with my two colorful cloth bags of groceries in the cold winter night air, my head down a bit to block the wind, I was feeling the anticipation of being home. Sliding my feet into my slippers, being in my warm house, putting the groceries away, unwinding from the day. I picked my head up briefly as I crossed the traffic area and noticed an elderly man shuffling towards the cart return space, which happened to be adjacent to my car. Under his left arm was a pack of toilet paper and in his right hand was two bags, milk and bread. He shuffled painfully slow and unsteady. I took notice of him heading toward the cart return with groceries in his hands, an action opposite of usual.
We arrived to our destinations at the same time, me to my car and him to the cart return where he promptly set his groceries down in a stranded cart. I lifted my gate, put my bags in as he turned around to me in a desperate voice, "I can't find my car."
He was so cold his cheeks were red and his nose was running and he had the look of defeat and panic in his eyes.
"I can't find my car. How stupid."
"Oh! Well, that sort of thing happens to me all the time. One time I even told the people at the car wash my car didn't have a neutral. Can you imagine? You are talking to the right girl about doing silly things."
A slight smile.
"What kind of car do you have?"
"A silver Impala with license plate ending in 72."
I scanned the rows in the lot I could see. No Impala in sight.
"Are you sure you parked by this door? Sometimes I forget which door I go in."
"I know it is in these two rows. I know it is."
I was becoming colder and colder by the second as I stood there and shifted from one foot the next, my mind spinning about solutions to this problem because very obviously, his car was not in the rows I could see.
"How about you just get in my car with me and we'll drive around until we find it. I can't handle this cold very well and we can put the seat warmers on and visit while we look."
"No, no. I'll find it."
But he didn't move. Just stood there with that look in his eyes, his nose running, and his groceries in the cart. So I prompted again with a point, "My car is right here. You really can just ride around with me until we find it."
"You aren't going to try and steal me are you?" He said with a twinkle and smile.
"I promise I won't. And you have to promise you won't try and steal me too!"
And with that our bond was sealed.
I put his groceries in the back of my car while he shuffled around and slid in my passenger seat. I jumped in, cranked the heat and seat warmers, and started the voyage to look for the silver Impala, making small talk while I scanned. We went over about how he has lived here his whole life and how his kids moved away now (to a town about twelve miles from here which I couldn't help but chuckle to myself about) and how he fell in Denver, CO a few weeks ago and that he didn't like that one little bit. I told him I was from here too and how he reminded me of my grandpa, "Myron, you remind me of my Grandpa Norman. He's not here with me anymore though so I think maybe it was meant to be for you to ride around in my car for a bit tonight."
His response, "Well I'm damn near ninety."
Oh yes he was meant to be with me for a brief stint.
Then he went into the spelling of his last name because he is an -on at the end, not an -en and once I had driven the entire lot twice without finding his car, I really started to wonder what I was going to do with Myron. And I actually had a vision of bringing him home with me, to have him sit at my table while I put my groceries away and maybe feed him some dinner. But I realized he probably really would think I was trying to steal him then, so my wheels kept spinning. Literally. Around we went.
There were two silver Impalas in the lot but neither was his because, "My license plates ends in 72 I told you. Don't you remember?" Those are not 72."
Finally, it dawned on me after going back and forth, feeling more and more like I had my Grandpa Norman sitting next to me, "Myron! Do you have a key clicker?!"
"Well yeah I have one of those." Followed by the look of why the hell wouldn't I you young girl you. Myron made me smile. The entire time.
"Then we can click it and see if any lights come on!" I was starting to get the feeling that 72 might not be the last digits of his plates but didn't want him to know I was doubting him.
He handed over the clicker to me and I drove to the first silver Impala. No lights.
I drove to the second silver impala. Lights!
"There it is! That's it Myron!"
"That's not my car. Remember I told you I had 72 at the end, that's a 42."
"But Myron, your keys work on that car."
"Oh yeah. Oh yeah. My daughter's is 72 and mine is 42." His finger waving at me the whole while.
"Well all I know is, I'm sure happy we found your car."
I carried his groceries to his back seat and got him shuffled to the driver's door and he turned to me, put his arm around me and said, "Thank you for helping me and I sure wish some day I can help you the same way. I think you were my little angel tonight."
I hugged him back and put my hand on his shoulder and said, "I'm so glad I was here. Some day, someone will help me. That's how this life works. Or at least how it should."
"You got that right."
He slid into his car and I hopped back into mine to make my way to my house, twenty minutes later than I would have been, to my putting my groceries away, to my unwinding from the day. But I wouldn't have wanted to spend those twenty minutes any other way than with Myron in my car.
If I could write Myron a thank you note, I would. For reminding we are all in this together. For reminding me people are the most important of all.