THE PEOPLE IN THE WHITE VAN...
BY GLORIA FAYE BROWN BATES/aka GRANNY GEE
We drove into the rest area, it was out in an isolated area, it was so cold. I was dressed warmly, I still dreaded to get out of the Bronco. We were in Colorado, the weather was freezing. I walked to the building to go to the ladies room. I took in breaths of cold, fresh air. I was looking forward to 'the mirrors'!
Inside I saw a piece of paper taped to the mirror. I kept in mind that I would read it before exiting the restroom. I wanted to 'see myself' in the mirrors, anyway! I had a ritual that I did everytime I was around mirrors... when no one else was around! It took my breath away thinking about it... it made me feel 'on top of the world'.
I loved mirrors... I loved looking at myself, my beautiful clothes... how I looked in them. I had on a new pair of Acme boots, they looked beautiful with my burgundy long skirt with white lace, it came down to mid-ankle, flaring out. I had on a starched white blouse, and a black belt. I was very tiny, very attractive.
Skip was very attractive, people always commented on how well we went together. We liked how we complemented each other. We both dressed well, we took pride in our appearance. We were a beautiful young couple.... we were noticed wherever we went. It made us happy!
When I came out of the bathroom stall, I was adjusting my belt... I was looking forward to looking in the mirrors! I felt excitement inside. My stomach felt butterflies, the good kind... I felt myself take a deep breath... I walked to the mirrors forgetting about the paper taped on the mirror.
I walked to the end of the bathroom until I was just out of sight of the mirrors. I did this each time so, I could do my 'special walk'... it gave me a high! I didn't have to take anything to get a high... all I needed to do ... was to see myself in the mirror! I was beautiful, I knew it... I loved looking at myself.
The only person who knew my little secret was Skip. He thought I was beautiful, too! He thought there was some narcissism there... well, maybe he thought there was alot. He was right. I loved myself, I always had a love affair with every mirror I saw... I loved how I looked... all in a 'good' way.
I felt the warmth in my face, as I began to walk ... I began to see myself in the mirror. My cheeks held a lover's glow... I looked at my face for a moment, I closed my eyes. Taking my hands I began to play with my hair... I had pretty, blonde, curly hair. I was shaking it out, shaping it around my face.
I looked back into the mirror and smiled at... me! I began to hold my face this way, that way... my lips began to 'purse'... then, part slowly. My eyes held a twinkle... they sparkled, they were so happy, beautiful. I liked seeing 'myself'.
I walked slowly down the length of the bathroom, seeing myself in every mirror on my walk down. I moved gracefully, softly... turning my head, playing with my curly hair with my hands, all the while fluffing it.
This went on until I felt my hair was just right, my clothes were showing my body off in the best light, until...... it was time to go! Skip was waiting for me!
Oh! The paper taped to the mirror! I turned and walked back and just casually looked at myself in the mirror, smiled. I had already 'done my special walk'. I pulled the paper gently off the mirror, leaving the tape attached to it.
Please help us, we are broke down. We are the older couple sitting out in front in the broken down van. We have 2 small white dogs. If you could spare money to help us get back home, I will give you my wedding rings. Thank-you.
I felt something pull at my heart. Oh God, there are two older people with 2 little dogs sitting outside this bathroom... it's so, so cold. I, then.. felt distrust. We were always running into people who tried to scam all the time... everyone tried to hustle. I told myself that I would just walk out and look 'over there' without appearing to do so. If I felt good about it ...I would tell Skip.
I slid my eyes over to the white van sitting to the right of me as I walked to our Bronco. I got inside... we could go on, I didn't have to tell Skip what I read. I couldn't just not at least .. mention it. I was thinking that ... I wanted to help them.
'Skip, I saw a paper taped to the mirror in the ladies' bathroom'. Skip looked at me and replied, 'I saw a note taped to the bathroom door in the men's bathroom'. We began discussing 'should we or should we not help the couple sitting to the right of us, in their van.
We'd always helped other people 'when we felt all was above board'. Skip and I looked each other in the eyes and decided...... that .... we would help these people. We could just drive away without a word, but, we found that we felt the need to help them.
Skip took his billfold out of his pocket, took a hundred dollar bill out. He said he was going to give that to them. I looked in my handbag... I took out my purse, got a fifty dollar bill out. I folded it up, and closed my hand over it.
I told Skip I wanted to put that money with the hundred dollar bill when he gave it to them. He said the hundred was from both of us. He understood when I told him, I wanted to give... too.
As we began to get out of the Bronco, I told Skip that we didn't want that lady's wedding rings... Skip said he'd already thought of that.
We both walked to the van, the woman opened the passenger window. Skip began talking to both of them, petting the little dogs who had climbed up on the lady's lap, to the window.
I stood back quietly to 'listen, to observe' for any sign of a scam. I saw a flush underneath the man and woman's skin... sort of feverish. I saw in their eyes .... pain, the need to just 'please help us get home'. I felt their pain by listening to their voices. I felt the need to help them. I nudged Skip in the side... he 'knew' I wanted us to help these people.
He opened his hand and reached out to place the hundred dollar bill in the woman's hand. It was unexpected, they had no idea we would help them. The woman began crying... as she cried I saw her begin taking her beautiful wedding rings off her finger.
There was a wedding band, a beautiful diamond ring that any woman would like to have. I didn't want them. I reached my hand out, placed it on her hands to stop them ... I placed my fifty dollar bill into her hand. The emotion at that moment was more than I can express in words... I feel it 'now' ...through all these years. I can't bear to think about it long... it could make me cry, even now.
The man had gotten out prior to his wife taking the rings off... he had opened the side door. He wanted to give Skip a little tv, he began taking other things of value he had out of the van, to sit on the ground for Skip. Skip wouldn't take them.
'Please, put your rings back on your finger', I told the woman quietly. 'We don't want your wedding rings, my husband has given me beautiful rings, I don't need anymore'. The woman couldn't believe we didn't want her rings. She kept asking... 'are you sure'?
The man handed Skip a pen, paper... 'please write your name and address here so, when we get home we can mail you the money back'. Disbelief filled his eyes when both Skip and I told him simultaneously.... 'we don't want you to send the money back'.
We said our goodbyes, got back into our Bronco, left. Both Skip and I were choked up inside... we felt such emotion from those people.. from seeing how much it meant for them to get that money. We couldn't talk for some time... we rode in silence. We both felt warm, happy inside .... giving is a wonderful feeling.
We felt good inside from giving... from giving freely without taking a thing for it. We loved to give to people, we did often in our travels, we did it unexpectedly.... to people we saw along our way who asked us for nothing. If we had extra... we'd give it away 'in a heartbeat' to help someone who really needed it.
I knew that 'I loved myself' because I looked beautiful... it stemmed from being a young child when all 'was taken away from me', when I'd been used to dressing well, having baths, having someone to care for me, having good food to eat. Not only that, I 'knew' how it felt to need help... I had a beautiful, good heart... too. Though I was like I was... my heart was made of gold.
As a young woman, I had 'everything'... and I was so happy to 'see me look nice again, I was so happy to be beautiful at the same time'. It sounds so vain... I was, I wasn't. I was a very nice, good person. Having said that... I still 'loved myself'.... when I looked in the mirrors ...'I was the fairest of them all'.
I smile when I think back to 'then'. I've come through so many 'bad' things since then. Things that will take 'forever' to write about, some things I won't write about. It has changed me so much, 'inside and out'.
I can't even begin to tell all life has taught me, there aren't enough words. I've always looked for the lessons in life, I 'knew' there was always something to be learned. Things happen for a reason..... I believe the more one gives, the more one cares about others..... I believe 'it all comes back full circle'.
When we give, we expect nothing back... we 'let go' when we give. Even with so many 'bad' things in our life, there have been many good things to happen, also. I never forget how it feels to get help unexpectedly when I've needed help in my life. It meant the world to me... so, I know how it feels. I saw how it made the couple in the white van feel... I 'felt' it....