The other day I was visiting a lovely little town near me where parking is easy is you have the right amount of quarters. As I parked the car, I reached for my handy little plastic bag of change that I always keep in my car, or so I thought, for times like these.
I kept reaching. There was no bag of quarters in my car, and since I had emptied the change out of my wallet to make it lighter to carry, I was out of luck and quarters. I had forgotten I had given my change bag to my son to use at the local car wash. I was up a creek.
I pulled in to a drug store to try to get change, but of course the clerk said no. (Note to self: These lovely little towns don't have razzle-dazzle Sheetz stores on every other block). On retrospect, I should have bought a single pack of gum in the store and gotten change that way. Hindsight! So I kept driving around trying to find a way to park without getting a huge ticket.
I finally found a lot that had one of those annoying "pay ahead" systems for parking. Looking at the machine, I realized I could charge the $1 or $2 in parking I needed and I could move on with my day. Except that the machine decided not to take credit cards that day and would only accept COINS, which was absolutely no help to anyone who was lacking in coinage to begin with.
I was walking away, wondering if the friends I was meeting could do a drive by and toss some change out their car window to me before I got a ticket for parking. I noticed two men had parked in the lot and were hovering around the parking fee box. I walked back over -- because really, what the heck? -- and told them it wasn't working. They tried anyway, but no luck. Then one man asked if I needed some change. He offered me a quarter from his pocket, and said he would go back to his car to get more. How nice! Then a woman walked over, her hand filled with quarters, and asked me how many I needed. I took four, paid her a dollar which she kept refusing to take, and gave the nice gentleman his quarter back.
I told them as we parted that people in Sewickley are really nice. They smiled a little because they already knew that.
As for the moral of this tale, I think it must be that helping strangers is a nice thing to do and that NOT taking little bag of coins out of your car --- ever --- is definitely a rule to live by.
By Teresa K. Flatley