A chipmunk bought my daughter lunch today.
Allow me to explain.
Waiting in a long line of cars at our usual Thursday lunch drive-through fast food place (autism, routine, usual place) I noticed a really cute chipmunk zipping out from under the fence that enclosed the trash bins. It kept zipping out, assessing the situation and zipping away again.
Suddenly it decided the moment had come, to zip across the drive-through lane to the shrubbery on the other side.
A lady got out of the jeep ahead of me, and looked under her car. I knew she was looking to make sure the chipmunk hadn’t stopped under her vehicle.
I rolled down my window, to ask her if she saw him under my car, but she immediately said she had accidentally squished a turtle once and didn’t want to squish that chipmunk.
She looked under my car for me, and gave the all clear. Then she got back into her Jeep.
It wouldn’t move.
The parking lights kept blinking. She clearly was shifting into drive, and the thing just wouldn’t go. It revved and blinked. But it wouldn’t move.
I put my car in park, reassured my daughter that I’d be right back, and tapped on the Jeep’s window to see if I could help.
The lady explained it was some kind of safety feature, “auto-park,” that came on when she got out of the car. It had happened before, but she couldn’t remember how to fix it.
She was going to call her son to find out. She felt really bad about holding everyone up and asked me to tell the people behind us what was happening, and I did.
Then I went back to my car to wait.
Nothing happened. Just another round of lights and revving.
Assuming she hadn’t been able to reach her son, I tapped on her window again, and tried to help her look for some switch to flip or button to push.
Then I heard that chiming.
“What if you put on your seat belt?”
She had undone it when she got out of the car, but she hadn’t buckled up again.
She fastened the seat belt, and voila! The car shifted out of park.
I confess to using my “outside voice” to holler one of those big “you’re welcomes!” to the several cars still waiting in line (how humble and gracious, of you, Annie, when the poor lady already felt so bad, and now she was probably embarrassed too, that something so simple solved the problem).
Angelic daughter was nervous, but I told her I had been given the opportunity to do a little thing to help someone. I solved the problem, and that felt good.
We made it to the ordering speaker thingee, placed the order and pulled up behind the lady in the Jeep, who was just finishing up paying for her order.
Or so I thought.
She pulled ahead and and drove off.
I pulled up and stuck my hand out the window, holding the debit card to pay for Angelic Daughter’s lunch.
The kid at the window was clearly pleased about something.
He opened his window, smiled at me, and said, “the lady in the Jeep says thank you.”
“Oh, that’s nice,” I said. I honestly thought he was just conveying a verbal message. I kept holding the debit card out the window toward the kid. He didn’t take it.
“She covered it. Paid for it. All you have to do is pull forward.”
“Oh, how sweet!’ I was really surprised.
And, then of course, (Anxiety! OCD!) worried: is this one of those things where everyone is supposed to pay for the person behind them? Because, for stupid reasons I won’t go into, I couldn’t pay for anyone else’s lunch today. I felt bad about that.
But, I reasoned, I had done everyone in line a service by helping the lady in the Jeep, getting her going so the line could start moving again. It was a long line, but only two or three cars pulled out to park and walk inside the restaurant.
So I decided it was OK to just enjoy her gesture of gratitude, and in turn to extend mine to that cute little chipmunk (usually my nemeses, chipmunks – they tunnel around in my vegetable garden and dig holes in my yard). But today a chipmunk was the genesis of an opportunity to help.
So thanks, little dude.
Now get off my lawn.
Thankful also that the sun is emerging, and summer (technically – still cool and rainy) starts tomorrow, I remain,
(PS – OK, I know that Bitmoji image up there is supposed to be a gopher, but you get the idea. Feel free to share funny Caddyshack references, though).