There was a tall blonde lady standing in front of me at the fast food restaurant in Washington, who had just finished placing here order. “Will that be all?” The cashier asked her. “And, whatever these two, want.” She replied, motioning toward the two girls behind her. Each girl being tall and blonde, bore a strikingly similar appearance to the lady. It was my assumption the girls were her daughters.
I tapped the lady on the shoulder. “What about me?” I asked, “I’m hungry too.” I said. The lady cracked a smile, laughed, then told the cashier, “Sure. Why not? And, whatever he wants, too.” The lady and I shared a good laugh about that. The two teenage girls looked at each other, puzzled, as if to say, “Who is this guy? And why is he talking to our mom?” Although I am sure the lady’s offer was genuine, I told her I was just kidding and she didn’t have to buy my coffee. The three of them went to sit at a table. I ran out to my car to grab something.
I came back into the restaurant, walked up to the lady and handed her a small rock, just slightly larger than a dime. “What is this?” She asked. “It’s a quartz rock I picked up on a beach in Lake Superior Provincial Park, in Canada.” I said. “Really? You brought this rock all the way across the country from Lake Superior?” She asked. “Yep.” I said, “It’s an international rock.”
I explained that I travel all over the country. “When I visit different bodies of water and walk the beaches, I collect rocks or seashells. Nothing too big or significant, just small rocks or shells. I keep them in my car. From time to time I run into people whom I wish to give a little present.” “And why are you giving me this rock?” She asked. “Because you offered to buy me dinner. I just wanted to return the nice gesture.” Then I told her, “It’s a special rock; as long as you keep it with you, it will bring you good luck.” She thanked me, turning the rock over and over in her fingers, studying it. I smiled and walked away.
I paid for my drink, then found a table to sit and sip my coffee, while writing. A few moments later the lady walked up to my table. She said, “It’s funny you should give me that lucky rock today. I’m going in for a surgical procedure tomorrow and I’ve really been nervous about it. Somehow this little rock from a stranger makes me feel like everything is going to be okay.” That kind of choked me up, leaving me speechless.
She continued, “We travel all over the country, too, and I buy little things I don’t need, but sometimes its good to have them to give away.” With that said, she handed me a postcard, “I picked this up in southern California and I’d like you to have it.”
The postcard was very colorful with all the planets from our solar system on it. A logo on the bottom read, “Ron Jon Surf Shop.” It was one of those 3-D hologram cards. As I held it in my hands, I turned it from side to side studying it. It looked like the planets were moving about inside the card. “This is really cool!” I said, as I gladly accepted her gift, “Thank you very much.” She in turn, thanked me again for the rock, saying, “I will take it with me to my surgery tomorrow.” I smiled warmly and said, “You’re going to be just fine, my friend. I know you will.” She returned the smile, we said our farewells and she walked away. I kept looking at the card, thinking, “Someday after I’ve traveled the whole world over, I’ll explore the universe; and now I’ll have a map to take with me.” I laughed, “Maybe I’ll collect moon rocks next.”
I continued turning the card back and forth in my hands, mesmerized by the planets as they moved about. I looked up and outside. The lady was passing by the windows. She was looking down toward her hands; turning something small in her fingers, studying it.
Tom can be reached for comment at Facebook.com/Tom.palen.98
a broadcaster, pilot, writer, and our Guest Columnist!