Girlhood. Momhood. Lifehood.
Insights on navigating the craziness of life with young kids one — “large coffee with skim please” — day at a time.

Hand Picked

  • Sip your Sigg
    These are the coolest water bottles. My organic-garden-healthy-crunchie-yet-techie brother introduced me to these. He like LIVES at Whole Foods. They carry them.
  • Seriously Royal Tunes
    Favorite band of the moment is Kings of Leon. Love, love, love their sound.
  • Trust Me…
    Even though it just got cancelled, I think this is a cool, funny show about the ad biz. On TNT on Tuesday nights…for now.

The Tipping Point

April 5th, 2009

I pull into the Jiffy Lube just off Main Street and slowly drive around the back. Squinting in the morning sun, I peer through the car windshield, scanning the lot and the open service bays.

No sign of him.

As I cruise through the lot, a young man in the standard issue navy shirt and pants walks out of the side entrance toward me, wiping his hands with a grease rag. I slow to a stop and push the auto button to lower the driver side window as he approaches…bzzzzzzzzz.

“Hi,” he says, “What can I do for you?”

“Hi,” I call out to him, “Uh, is Ben working today?”

“Yeah,” he nods, “He is.” This guy is wondering why on earth a chick in a minivan is asking for Ben. I start to feel the color rise to my face a little.

‘”Um, could you ask him to come out here for me?” I say, still squinting.

“Sure,” he says. I try to ignore the slightly amused look he gives me as he turns on his heel to go back through the door. I tap my fingers on the wheel nervously and reach for the money that I’ve put in the cup holder.

A few seconds later, Ben, in similar garb, strides out the door. He’s taking the last bite of a sandwich. Great, I’ve interrupted his lunch break.

“Hey!” he says with a smile of recognition on his face.

“Hey there!” I say. His friendly hello puts me at ease a bit.

As he gets closer, I notice he’s wearing a heavy, funky chain necklace. A sharp contrast to the round boyish face that’s peering out from under his baseball cap. He’s a young guy, probably in his mid-twenties.

“Well,” I say with a laugh as I lean out the window, “I like to be true to my word. You didn’t think I’d come back, did ya?” I reach out and hand him the neatly folded bills, $3 in total…

“I really appreciate you filling up my tires yesterday. Thanks again.”

He leans forward and takes it.

“No problem at all,” he says with a nod and a smile, “Thanks.” He puts the bills in his pocket without looking at them.

“Oh sure.” I mutter. I’m not sure what to say next as he stands next to my car, hands now in his pockets.

“Well…” I chirp out, “Thanks again!” Have a good one!” I wave goodbye and ease my foot off the brake and the car starts to move forward.

“You too!” He says with a quick wave back and then he turns with a slight jog to head back in.

As I pull the car back onto Main Street, I’m smiling to myself, relieved that my silly little mission is accomplished.

The day before I’d stopped in to get air put in my tires. I was annoyed at my husband for not doing it for me, because frankly, all car-related tasks intimidate me. But I was also annoyed that I couldn’t figure out how to the use the air machine at the gas station and just do it myself. It’s air!!! How hard can it be!?

But alas, I had given up and gone to Jiffy Lube because according to my husband, they’d do it for me for free. And he was right, they did, or more specifically, Ben did. And when this nice fellow filled the four tires in a flash and said, “You’re all set,” I realized, suddenly and awkwardly, that perhaps I was supposed to tip him. Dang it.

“Uh. uh..can you take gratuities?” I say while fumbling through my purse, that of course held no cash. “Argh!” I proclaimed before he could answer,”I don’t have any cash. I’m sorry!”

“Don’t worry about it,” he had said without a hint of falseness.

“Well, what’s your name?”


“Ben,” I said, “I’ll catch ya tomorrow! Thanks!”

And with that I drive off in my usual flurry, feeling a bit stupid, and frankly not 100% sure that I would come back to face my gratuity gaffe.

But over the next 24 hours I thought about all the things that are quite disappointing and disheartening these days…things like a mega-wealthy financial guy accused of leaving unknowing, trusting clients in financial ruin…and political figures being investigated for tax fraud…and budget cuts and jobs lost and major newspapers shouting headlines of economic doom and gloom as they themselves are in danger of being shut down…

So that next day, when I woke up to a busy day of kid activities, errands and other daily what-not, I made sure to put a stop at the Jiffy Lube on the list. It certainly was not a grandiose gesture, and I even felt foolish doing it. And my whopping $3 tip was not going to enhance Ben’s paycheck - at best he could use it across the street to get a coffee and a donut. But I decided I really wanted to follow through on my promise. So I did. And it felt really good. And who knows, maybe I made Ben’s day just a little bit better.

Right now it just feels like it’s a good time to try and build a little trust, to invest in each other, to have a little faith, and when we can, to try and pay it forward…even in the smallest of ways.

« Previous

Next »