Our church is having a problem with parking: so many cars, not enough spaces. It’s a good problem to have, but still a problem.
We have joined a movement of many to park a few blocks away, in the lots of closed businesses and schools, and walk the extra distance so others may park closer.
Little did I know, there was a gracious, second movement happening underground: a sleu of drivers who were patrolling the surrounding blocks, picking up the parked-far-away families and shuttling them to church.
So we were unpiling ourselves from the van when a nice man, in a very nice sports utility vehicle, pulled up behind us. (With a church-made taxi sign on his car so I knew he was a safe lurker.) “Good morning! You guys going to church? Let me give you a ride!”
I can’t describe my abundant thankfulness. Except to tell you that the temperature was something like -4 degrees. And this kind, new friend had just spared me the task of coralling two boys on a hike through the tundra.
The boys climbed in and headed straight for the back row. I got into the front seat and introduced myself. There was an empty row between me and my children, which isn’t necessarily a wise parenting move, but I didn’t really want to take the Miss Daisy approach with this kind chauffeur.
His car was so warm. Beautifully, toasty warm. My new friend and I start making get-to-know-you conversation. You know. Since we’re sharing a car and all.
“Hey!” one of my children yells from the backseat. “There’s a pair of pants back here!”
The driver smiles and says with a laugh “Oh, is there? I thought I got everything.” He’s a family man, and clearly his children live in their vehicle between activities, just as mine live in ours.
I call over my shoulder, “Buddy, put the pants down.”
I look to the driver. “Ah, the wayward pants of a young family. My kids will feel very at home. In our car, it would probably be a pair of wayward underpants.”
(Theirs. Not mine.)
(I didn’t add that part.)
Basking in a world of no carseats, far out of my reach, one child is waving the pants over his head, twirling them like a lasso. Another child has gone through the pockets and compartments of the backseat, as if he had a search warrant. He’s wearing an expensive pair of headphones, flailing the cord around in search of an outlet.
Oh My Word.
I’m apologizing in the front seat while I’m trying to discipline the backseat with my eyes. A stern furrowed brow. A brow that held little threat, apparently.
The driver was so kind. In that fatherly way that says, “Oh, I’m not offended. I’m a dad.”
The drive was only a few blocks. We were nearing our descent. As we pulled up and the boys tumbled from the backseat, I was one step ahead of them, standing outside the car and reminding them of their manners. “Say thank you to our new friend, gentlemen.”
“Thank you, Mr. Beardy Beard!!”
“Thank you, Mr. Bad Breath! Mr. Poopy Pants!”
(He didn’t have a beard or bad breath or poopy pants.)
“Boys. Stop. Look at him. Say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gibbs.'”
I turn them each, square their shoulders, and point their chins with respect. In monotone unison: “Thank you, Mrs. Gibbs.”
I waved and nodded, closing the door.
Thank you for shuttling us, Mr. Gibbs. I believe you might have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.