Yesterday morning I stopped in at Bruegger’s to pick up our usual Thursday breakfast: 2 breakfast sammiches, bacon, egg, and cheddar, one on plain (for me), one on rosemary olive oil (for Scott). Ahead of me was a beautiful, slender young woman with two darling little girls with curly hair done just so, jewelry on wrists and ears, and bright open little faces. The elder girl might’ve been two, but probably not yet three; the little one was barely walking and talking. Mom was too young, from my perspective, to have one child let alone two. I would be surprised if she were over 20. She carried the two girls in her arms while she negotiated bagel orders for the three of them, and honestly, she was doing quite well. I ended up paying in front of her, because she ordering and beveraging for three, and observed them as I waited for my bagels.
She put the two girls down to grab two bottles of milk from the cooler, but they weren’t having it and almost instantly the cries of “Mama! Up!” began. So she picked them up again and tried to get her credit card out of her wallet. The cashier commented how he didn’t know how she managed it as she handed it to him, her arm foreshortened by the daughter held in it. Pretty soon, the little one got grabby with the tip jar and in the subsequent removal of her daughter’s hand, the mother’s careful balancing act fell apart. The credit card was dropped on the floor, hot on the heels of the wallet.
She set the girls down, picked up the wallet, and by then, I had picked up her credit card for her and set it on the counter, as I was just standing there cooling my heels and waiting for my food. Mom was a bit flustered, but in true mom fashion, pulled it together fast, and got organized. By this point, her bagels were ready, and the bagelier (what else do you call one who is in the bagel trade?) told her that she’d cut the girls’ bagels in quarters, and the mom thanked her. She turned around and thanked me, then, as the bagelier asked her where she was sitting and then carried the food and grabbed the two bottles of milk and set them on the table for the young mother.
It was a really human moment, one that spoke of a sense of community that often seems gone and buried in a bustling, impersonal world. So often strangers are adamant about staying that way. But on a late-August Thursday, a young mother struggled, and people lent a hand. A small thing, but it might’ve made her day just a little easier.
I have had my idealistic years, though the last year has been a cynical, pessimistic one for me. Faith in humanity, in anything, has been in short supply. But it is moments like these where I feel hope for humanity, where I can trust, however temporarily, that there is more good in us than the papers and our worst days would have us believe. There is an innocence and a sweetness and an appreciation of simplicity that I think yearns to be expressed, or fed, or maybe both.
I feel that hope when I see young kids on bikes, just out playing like they’re supposed to be instead of walking down the street in misanthropic packs, looking for trouble.
And I felt it the other day when I received a forwarded e-mail of the video you’ll find below. So simple, and yet so wonderful. I sent it to folks I knew would love it, and they were as enchanted as I was. For all the big-budget, high-sex, low-IQ entertainment offerings we are bombarded with every single day, each purveyor trying to raise the bar and lower standards as they shock us and wind us up, the fact that this little video is making the rounds of the internet speaks loudly, to my ears. Many of us still recognize magic when we see it. And thank goodness.