By Patricia Kelly
Years ago I had my vehicle in the shop for repairs and the only loaner available was a humongous van with several rows of bench seats and side opening doors.
I was not used to such a large vehicle and was a bit nervous about driving it. However, I did need to pick up my dry cleaning so I illegally parked in the fire lane to protect the loaner from crashing grocery carts and quickly ran into the cleaners.
I had the side doors open looking for a place to hang my cleaner bags when someone gently pushed me aside. Startled, I watched a little old lady climb into the van and sit down wearily.
Need to state here that at my age then, anyone around 60 was OLD. Today I look on 60 is a still a youngster. Back to the story.
My mouth was still hanging open when the next wave hit. One by one, five other seniors climbed into the van, using my shoulder as a hand rail.
"We missed the bus." an elderly gentleman informed me as he squeezed beside two ladies and looked for a place to put his cane. "You will take us home?" he partially questioned, but mostly stated.
I looked at my little group of passengers and tried to push thoughts of law suit out of my mind as I asked, "Uh, where do you live?
They were from Century Village which is a huge retirement village in Palm Beach County. The Village supplied bus service to grocery stores and shopping complexes.
This group had stayed too long and had been left on the curb. The last bus of the day was history.
Against my better judgment but not knowing how I could possibly throw six seniors back on the curb and still sleep at night, I made sure there were no more stragglers. I then told them to buckle up and headed for the Village which was several miles away.
I was curious why they had no shopping bags. Man-with-cane explained that they went a couple of times a week to the book store/coffee shop that was part of the strip mall, to read and sip while the rest of the bus load grocery shopped.
I asked where their books were and he explained that they never bought a book except as a gift. They just read inside the store while sipping coffee. They would then write down the stopping page on a piece of paper so they could pick up where they left off next time.
Being a book and coffee person myself, I could see where that might be the perfect day out for seniors. The price for their entertainment certainly fit into a retirement income.
Now Century Village has more than 2000 condos. It would have been nice if they all lived in the same unit but each one lived in a separate building. Kind of wondered how they all got together. Perhaps they met at Bingo.
At each stop, I got out to open the doors for the departing senior and was rewarded with a quarter and a sweet smile or nod for my efforts.
I tried to refuse the change but they almost got ugly insisting. I quickly learned that little old ladies will not hesitate to slap your arm with their bony hands if you don't agree with them. So I just took the money and shut up.
I was really getting tickled at the absurdity of the situation. However with each successful unload, I breathed a new sigh of relief. I was beginning to think that this might work out after all.
Man-with-cane was the last to depart. He demanded my name and address. He did NOT offer a quarter. I was tempted to give a false name but I wrote my real name and address on the piece of paper he offered.
Ah, I thought, here comes the law suit. Perhaps I had taken a turn to quickly and caused a whiplash. I was living by the creed at that time that no good deed goes unpunished.
I was delighted though in a few days for I got a lovely card from Man-with-cane. He thanked me very nicely and there were TWO quarters scotch taped to the card. No lawyers ever called.
Still today, 38 years later, that ranks as the strangest, scariest, yet coolest buck seventy five I ever earned.
EDITORIAL NOTE: You are a prolific bunch of writers and there is now a backlog of reader stories to carry us almost to summer. So for awhile, I am not accepting new stories until we work through some of the ones already on the list.