Sometimes when you least expect it, you receive some cheer from a stranger. And as my mother would say, “The Lord knows we need it!”

To make a short story long: One of my friends was scheduled to have eye surgery. I picked up her car so that I could drive her to medical appointments and the hospital as needed. Having her car also allowed me to do a good deed by taking a friend to the airport in the wee hours of the morning.

As we all know (or can guess), automobiles vary as to the location of the ignition, gearshift, blinkers, lights, the horn, and the hood and gas tank releases. When I took drivers ed in high school a hundred years ago, the instructor told us students to always adjust the mirrors and seat and know where the controls were located before pulling out. Well, I’m an adult now, so I don’t need anyone to tell me these things, and I certainly don’t need to ask questions about somebody’s car. That would take the fun out of guessing, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, I decided to put some gas in my friend’s car. I pulled into one of those mini-mart self-serve stations and decided to go inside and prepay for the gas in cash rather than use my credit card.

As I entered the store, a gentleman in his mid-40s (?) standing near the cashier said enthusiastically, “Hey, Moms. How you doing today?” I was a bit startled and wondered if I knew him, but answered, “Fine, thank you.” Without intending to say it out loud, I muttered, “Moms?” “Yeah,” the stranger beamed, “I know to show respect to moms. I been taught to respect moms.” I smiled and nodded approval at what he said.

As I pushed my money through the opening for the cashier, I realized I didn’t know the number of the gas pump I would use. “Oh, gosh,” I said out loud, “I forgot to notice the number of the gas pump.” “It’s number 2,” the stranger told the clerk loudly. He looked at me and said, as he pointed to the pumps, “You’re right over there, aren’t you, Moms?” “Why, uh …yes, I am,” I said hesitatingly, “Thank you.” As I exited, I told the stranger, “Have a good day!” “You, too, Moms,” the gentleman responded.

I went out to my friend’s car, opened the door and searched for the gas tank cover release. I finally located it on the door (of all places), released the cover and went to unscrew the cap. Oh, for goodness sake. The cap required a key to remove it. I found the right key, but I couldn’t get it into the keyhole. I was still trying to insert the key when the Moms-man came out to his vehicle, which just happened to be parked on the other side of the same pump.

“You need some help, Moms? Can you get it?” the stranger asked as he came over to me. “Here, let me try.” The man took the key, inserted it into the slot, twisted and removed the cap. “Oh, wow! Thank you so much, sir,” I cooed. “You’re welcome, Moms.” The stranger started to get into his car but instead peeked around the pump and asked, “Did anybody say anything to you about love today?” Uhoh, I thought. What’s coming next? “Wellll, nooo,” I answered slowly and a bit nervously. “Well,” the man continued, “I hope you have a day filled with love and Christmas, too.” Relieved, I smiled and said, “Thank you so much. The same to you.” The stranger got partially into his vehicle, but with one leg still hanging out he shouted, “And love for the New Year, too, Moms.” “Thank you,” I said gleefully, “I wish the same for you.” I got into my friend’s car and chuckled to myself as I drove away. “Moms.” Whoever this stranger was, he’d certainly put a smile on my face and some joy in my heart.