A number of years ago while hitchhiking home from the airport, an elderly gentleman in a new SUV stopped and I got in.I thanked him for the lift, and we didn’t say much after that. Halfway into our 10-minute trip, he pulled over and announced that he was going to the fruit stand. He put the car in park, left it running, got out and walked to the stand while I waited in the car. Not once did he look back to make sure that I wasn’t sliding into the driver’s seat, or rifling through the glove box, or whatever a scruffy hitchhiker could potentially do when left alone with the keys to an expensive automobile.He bought some strawberries, returned to the car, and drove me right to my door.Even as it was happening I realized that this was a remarkable series of moments this was small town living, circa 50 years ago. This was one of those, as I now call them, Mayberry Moments.From then on I started taking note of Mayberry Moments, those small town encounters that make you feel like you’ve just had a slice of Aunt Bee’s sweet potato pie.Here are some favorites: Walking back to my car one January evening, I reached into my pockets for my gloves, only to find one of them missing. I know I had it earlier, but it was dark, and I could have dropped it anywhere. Oh well, gloves come and go. I got in my car and saw that someone had stuck the missing glove under my windshield wiper. The local DJ is excited about the song he’s about to play next. He opens the CD case to find it empty. He says, “I must’ve left it in my player at home. If someone’s coming this way, could you stop by my house and grab it and bring it in?” Someone did. While waiting at a stoplight, a loud sound from the rear of my car makes me jump but not as much as the sound of someone knocking on my window. I’m on the highway at a red light! What the hell?I roll the window down and the guy says, “I noticed your trunk was open, so I closed it for you.”He smiled, then ran back to his car as the light changed. I got up from the barber chair and reached for my wallet. It wasn’t there. I remembered that it was home on the kitchen table. I looked at the barber, whom I’d never met before that day, with horror and embarrassment in my eyes. I slapped my empty pockets as I explained that I had not a cent on me.”That’s OK,” he said. “Just bring it by when you can.”No signing of an IOU, no Polaroid and thumbprint, no need for Barney to put his bullet in. I called a local mechanic to schedule an appointment, thinking for sure I was looking at a weeklong repair and a hefty bill. I described the problem and he said it sounded like I may just need some clutch fluid, and proceeded to talk me through the procedure of adding some.”That should take care of it,” he said. “If it doesn’t, give me another call and we’ll try something else.”I added fluid and the clutch worked fine. My wife and I went browsing in a car lot. We said we were interested in a test drive. The sales guy handed me a set of keys. I stood there, waiting to be presented with some waiver to sign, or for him to get in the car with me, or for something official to happen.He said, “Have fun.” Then he walked back toward his office.Mmmmm … good cracker. VTContact Barry Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Web page at http://www.Irrelativity.com.
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