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The Soldier and the Squirrel introduces children to the Purple Heart

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and Rocky the squirrel with his backyard friends. This story began as a

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encouragement, it is now a book and has been placed in the

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. Please watch the video

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« The Invisible - A Reflection on Faith | Main | Signature Here »
Tuesday
Apr012014

The Pump

I pull up to the pump with my scooter on its lift and my handicap placard on the rear view mirror. My heart started to beat a little faster. I was about to call for the gas attendant to fill my tank - as a handicapped person - for the very first time. I pull up, honk my horn and wait.

Handicapped patrons of gas stations are allowed to pull up to a pump and honk to let the attendant know service is needed. The little blue man sat patiently on the checkout window next to the hours of disability operation and service. At this particular station, their hours of disability service are 8am to 2pm on weekdays.

I honked, holding the placard in front of my face as I faced the window. I waited. But no one came. I could see hands talking from behind the register without a face. Do I honk again? I looked around to see if anyone was giving me the evil eye - wondering if my affliction was not a mobility problem so much as honkaholism.

Then I wondered how often this gas station actually has people come along who utilize the handicap service? Maybe I'll just honk again. Honk. Ok. Now I'm probably really annoying somebody. I am slowly becoming an abscess on the face of the rush hour pit stop. A young girl walked out of the cashier. I quickly rolled down my window and asked if she could let someoneknow a gimp was at pump four. She did.

Like a lemur peering around a tree, an older gentleman in a dark blue jumper assessed my abscess. Upon determining my gimpness was supported by sufficient evidence, he swung his frame along the asphalt approaching my window with reserve.

In one fleeting moment when much was being deciphered by both parties: Does he think I was being rude or lazy by summoning his presence? Will he be nice?

It's funny how such a small gesture can be so loud.

As he pumped my gas, images flashed of a time when everyone had their gas pumped in the service lane. It was a more innocent day when my brother and I would sit unbuckled in the back seat, the sweet smell of salt water stuck to our skin. Dad would sign the receipt against the steering wheel and replace the pen on top of the clipboard to hand it back.

It's not very often we experience service nowadays. But then again, how often does the server receive gratitude?

As I handed the clipboard back to him, I couldn't help but smile. Because I was grateful. His eyes stuttered as they began to look away but came back to mine for more. More gratitude, I suppose. He smiled back. The weathered skin around his eyes creased into a softened gleam. In one moment, in one simple choice, a human connection was made and I was reminded how very human we all truly are. How all of us run (or roll) around all day searching for meaning in our lives - when a taste of it it is closer than we ever imagined - somewhere between service and gratitude with the passing of a pen.

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