Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Bunny Mobile!

I am fortunate to have the members of my family within an hour's drive.  Mom and dad still occupy the same house I called home until I ventured into that brave new world at the ripe old age of 23.  My sister and brother and their respective families are in the Philadelphia suburbs.  Visits to see them merely require a quick trip over the bridge from New Jersey into Pennsylvania.

For my husband's family, this is not the case.  One of ten, My husband Bob came from the Brady Bunchish melding of two families, bringing a mom of four and a dad of six together under one roof.   Today, those siblings are scattered all over the place.   New York, New Jersey, Nevada, and North Carolina are the states that now play host to Bob's siblings, so we treasure the rare opportunities we get to spend time together.

Last year, Bob, my 14-year old daughter Melissa, my inherited daughter Jessica, and I made the nine hour trek to Raleigh, North Carolina for our annual eat-fest.  With a Passover seder on Saturday night at my in-law's house, and Easter dinner on Sunday with Bob's sister and her family we packed plenty of stretch pants to handle the extra load!  All too soon, Jessica had to return to her job in Washington, DC, but we decided to stick around for a few more days.

On Monday, Bob, Melissa, my 14-year old niece Amanda, and my mother-in-law journeyed to the movies, then headed to a local restaurant for dinner.  (We were still full from our eat-fest, but, no surprise, that didn't stop us)

As we made our way from the car, the strangest site caused all five of us to stop in our tracks.   Occupying a parking space directly in front of the restaurant sat a teeny, tiny, miniscule car.  Only big enough for two medium-sized passengers, the car brought back memories of the old Volkswagon punch buggies, only smaller.  However, the size of the car is not what grabbed our attention, but rather, the decorations that jutted out from every nook and cranny.  Seems the owner had chosen to celebrate Easter by transforming his car into a rabbit.  Long, furry ears stood straight up from each window, wiskers were affixed to the front, while the bumper boasted a bouncy bunny tale.

We laughed in disbelief, walking around the circumference of the car, unable to believe our eyes.  Finally, Bob, anxious to sit down to dinner, cleared his throat, giving the signal for his family to move on.

After a perky, young hostess sat us in a booth, nestled among walls filled with sports and rock memorabilia, we opened our menus, then gave our order to another perky, young waitress.  No sooner had our food arrived, a large, burly looking man with wild hair and a beer gut appeared at our table.

"Folks, I saw you outside laughing at my car," he said in a deep voice, dripping with perceived antagonism.

We glanced at each other, not sure whether to jump and run, or nonchalantly continue digging into our ceasar salads and spaghetti.

"I like when people laugh at my car," he went on.  "Folks, your dinner's on me."

And with that, he turned and walked out of the restaurant.

A silence born of disbelief descended upon our table, until my mother-in-law finally asked, "Did he just say he was buying us dinner?"

We all nodded, noncommitedly, for none were truly sure if, indeed, a total stranger who we thought might beat us to a pulp for laughing at his car had paid for a full course meal for three adults and two teenagers. 

We all talked at once trying to figure out why someone would extend such a random act of kindness, still not believing it had truly happened until the waitress confirmed that yes, Mr. Rabbit Car had indeed picked up the check.

We continued eating, but surprisingly, we were not overcome with gratitude or renewed faith in humankind.  Rather, I am a bit embarrassed to admit, we all felt a bit.....suspicious.  After all, things like that simply did not happen in real life!  Yet, happen it did.

Feeling full once again (those stretch pants came in handy) we made our way outside.  Bob and I both scanned the parking lot, half expecting the owner of the Bunny Mobile to hold us up at gun point.  Yet, the rabbit ears, whiskers, and tail, nor their driver, were nowhere to be found.  Still, we couldn't shake the suspicious feeling, even after we returned to my mother-in-law's house.

The stranger's generosity made for a tall tale, told to everyone I knew.  All reacted in disbelief....yet I'm not sure why.  We are not unkind people.  Everyday I experience kindness at the hands of strangers who hold  doors, smile and share a greeting while in line for their mandatory morning coffee.  But the kindness of strangers usually does not extend beyond these benign attempts at sincere civility.

The incident left me wondering, what would happen if we all decided to pay it forward and do something nice for people we didn't know. 

How would you react if a complete stranger purchased dinner for you?   And what if he drove a Bunnie Mobile?
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