We were traveling yesterday from New York to Cleveland for the last days of Chanukah, to spend Shabbos with my parents and visit my grandmother who just turned 93 this week (or next week, depending on the calendar). My grandparents in New York are on their way to Boston to see their newest great-grandchild, and gave us their car for the weekend while my aunt and uncle picked them up by going out of their way from Philadelphia. Meanwhile, my brother drove me over to my grandparents to get the car - lots of car kindness all around. :)
But none of that matched the kindness we received while on the way. As we were driving, I realized that we had an EZ-Pass to pay for the tolls... in New York and Pennsylvania. But there's one last toll in Ohio, right before we get off the highway as we get near Cleveland - and Ohio doesn't have EZ-Pass yet. More importantly, I almost never carry cash. I pull up to the booth, unsure what to do, hoping that the toll will be some minuscule amount... after all, my brother had given me a quarter for "shliach mitzvah gelt" as I left. I quickly opened up all the small compartments in the car, hoping to find some change... but there was none. Serach didn't have any cash either. I open the window, and as I wish the officer a good evening, I mention that I may have a problem: I don't have any cash. The toll amount comes on as I hand him the ticket - it's $1.15. I try to find the quarter, while he asks if I come around here often; I don't think I've driven to Cleveland since well before I was married, if ever.
He's smiling the whole time, while I check my wallet once again, see if I happen to have a dollar, trying to dig out the quarter, when I see him doing something with the register. He says, "It's all right, don't worry about it." I start wondering if he's just going to wave me through, as I finally dig out the quarter. All of a sudden, the rest of what he said clicks, and I turn and stare:
"I got it."He was opening up his own wallet, taking out a dollar and a quarter, and putting it in the register. He was about to put in fifteen cents when I finally thrust over the quarter - and he insisted on giving me back the dime of change that he'd taken out. He wouldn't just wave someone through - he actually paid it out of his own pocket. I was so amazed, and there was someone waiting behind me, but I tried to apologize and say that I would give an extra dollar my next time through and wished him Happy Holidays - but I didn't think to get the officer's name until after I'd driven away.
Wow - what a kind-hearted soul, taking the money which he surely could use out of his own pocket. I'm still in shock. Happy Chanukah - and Holidays - to all.