Every time we stopped at the gas station to fill ’er up or pick up a snack for the kids and a cappuccino for me, we walked with our heads bowed. No, we were not in prayer. We were on the lookout for lucky coin money.
We still do — well, at least I still do.
Lucky coin money: money found on the ground face up. One day, I had an epiphany: Any money found, even face down, was lucky.
All this lucky money was dropped into my car’s ashtray, where I was sure no one would ever think to look for money. (Wrong! Someone did, a story for another time.) Every now and again we would dump out the change and count our bounty.
For years, when my grandbabies were actually babies, I carpooled them to the Weinstein preschool. I delivered them to their teachers and headed for my desk on the other side of the Marcus Jewish Community Center building.
I cherished those carpool days. We sang, played games like I Spot Something Red, and shared those agonizing “Why did the chicken cross the road?” jokes. Mostly we sang along to country music or tried to identify singers on the jazz station.
We always seemed to make two stops on our way to Zaban Park. First, of course, was the gas station. Second, approximately three-quarters of the way, was the inevitable country pishy stop. “Can you wait for just a few more minutes?” I would ask. “No, Savti, I have to go RIGHT NOW!”
We carefully scouted a safe place to stop without being discovered. You think it’s easy?
First, you must know how to quickly open the modern contraption known as a child’s five-point car seat, so complicated for adults but not for children. “Just push the red button,” they would cry out, in that condescending voice only children can get away with.
Next comes the ceremonial dumping of the crumbs, which covered not only the car seat, but also their clothes after that first stop. “Savti, you are littering!” “No, I am feeding the birds,” I would reply with indignity.
Then we had the desperate search for the socks and shoes, all while hearing the cry: “I can’t hold it!” G-d forbid I should let them walk in the grass barefoot; my daughters would cringe. The fact that they grew up just fine and dandy, thank you very much, even though their mommy allowed them to go barefoot seems to be of no consequence.
The grandkids and I have shared many fun moments in my car, not always carpooling, but always singing. Now, of course, since they have outgrown that horrible contraption, I don’t worry about country pishes (OK, we did have a desperate moment not too long ago). We listen and sing to the in music stations on the radio. I am still asked not to sing so loud.
Let us not forget how this article started. Shoyn fargessen (forgot already)?
On one of our outings, I had to stop for gas, a snack and my cappuccino. We piled out of the car, heading for the gas station store, with our heads bent as if in prayer. We hit the jackpot. Not only did we find good-luck coins (73 cents), but my sweet grandgirl found a Star of David.
“Savti, look what I found. What do you think it means?”
“I think it is an omen,” I responded.
“What’s an omen?” she asked. Hmm, I had to think how to answer her.
“It is HaShem sending us a message.”
“What’s the message then?”
Oh, good grief, I was flying by the seat of my pants here. “It means we should count all the lucky money and donate it to someone who needs it.”
I suddenly hear, “No, we found it; we keep it!”
“It was never really ours, was it?” I ask. Heads are once again bowed and, I can assure you, not in prayer.
Then I hear: “Do they have to be Jewish, since it’s a Jewish star?”
OK, now I am beginning to think this omen was a sign for me to either keep my big mouth shut or learn more about omens. I explain that the person does not have to be Jewish, just someone who needs some help.
The next time we were in the Target parking lot, we gave the lucky money to a family asking for help.