It worked out to tie finger-puppet monsters to my Valentine’s Day cards for my kiddo’s class:
We had two left over that we raced in little cars after breakfast Valentine’s Day morning. The cars’ license plates said: “B.YOU” and “JUSTB.” Good Valentine’s Day messages, which made us think of “Our Person” at the gas station.
First, you must know that in Oregon, we are not allowed to pump our own gas. You pull up to a gas station, roll down your window, and wait for an attendant to help you. I’ve never liked this process, but a few years ago, we started going to the same gas station because of one particular attendant.
She’s petite with naturally wavy graying hair, and seems shy until she smiles. Her smile says a lot, full of genuine care and attention. Because I didn’t know her name, I started calling her “Our Person,” and now, if she’s ever not there, my kiddo laments with true concern, “Where’s Our Person?”
Racing cheerful monsters in even more cheerful cars made us think of her, so the kiddo colored my “It’s fun to share with a friend” card in vivid pink for her, and we attached it to a chocolate bar. On our way out the door, the kiddo insisted on bringing his two finger-puppet monsters by stowing them away in the hood of his coat. I figured he wanted to show them to our friend.
At the station, we hopped out of the car (we didn’t need gas), found our attendant, and gave her the treat. She appreciated the surprise and took time to admire the enthusiastic coloring. As we left, the kiddo realized his finger puppets were gone. We looked everywhere and decided they must have fallen out at home on the porch. When we got home hours later, the kiddo glanced around the porch but didn’t ask about the missing monsters. I decided I’d better not bring them up.
Two full weeks later, we pull up for gas. It’s crowded and someone else helps us, but through the mash of cars, “Our Person” glides over, says something to the other attendant who moves away, and there she is, smiling in our window. We chat, and then she says:
“Oh, I almost forgot. I have something that is yours. I’ve been putting it in my pocket each day in case you stop by.”
And out she pulls the two finger-puppet monsters! There they are, waving their sinewy arms excitedly. I notice a smudge of black on each of them and realize they must have fallen out of the car right under a tire, and, well…I probably drove right over them as we left the gas station.
The kiddo and I are both thrilled, but what he’s too young to ponder is this: Every day, for two weeks, “Our Person” has been putting the little monsters in the pocket of whatever pants she wears that day, pulling them out at the end of the day, and putting them in the next day’s pocket, just to be sure she has them ready for when we stop by.
It’s a small gesture that says so much about attention, kindness, care, and concern for others.
Her thoughtfulness and deliberate kindness fuels my hope in humanity as a whole. I’ve never liked Valentine’s Day, but for this year it turned out to be a good chance to celebrate friendship and kindness and to appreciate people for who they are. JUST B.YOU