Gratitude Journal Stardate April 21 2009 . . .

Parking angel Today I was truly blessed.  Left home in good time for appointment at hairdressers.  How can cones and roadworks appear overnight when I only ever see 'workmen' chatting and drinking tea?  Town in gridlock.  Now likely to be late. Drat.  Hate being late.  Can't be late today as taking daughter for interview with possible mentor at 4pm!  Navigate blockage and head for car park on side of town to enable quick escape as I (plan) to emerge from salon with sun-kissed tresses and a light spring in my step.

No change.  Arrive at car park to find little man in pay box replaced with machines for 'pay and display'.  So far, no good.  Circuit car park and park back at box where elderly and pleasant looking gent in yellow dayglo jacket is hovering.  Express deep regret that 'man' has yet again been replaced by 'machine'.  Hope he's someone's grandad for he just fits the bill.  This kindly soul explains where there's a paper shop to obtain change.  Assume I'm probably their hundredth lucky applicant today and, my, won't they be pleasedI  As I attempt to drive back my new friend says "When you've parked come back and see me".  By this time there's a car behind me and lady bull mastiff at controls is not amused as she's instructed to reverse by my gallant helper, so I can get back into the car park without having to renegotiate the one-way system.    

Pound Rifle through glovebox for my emergency pound.  Always keep one in there, just in case.  Add that to what looks like scrapings from a child's money box lurking in base of purse and head for pay machine to buy time – literally.  Helpfully, find notice saying charges have changed go to other end of car park to view board. Starting to become just a little anxious. Almost gallop across concrete and am approached by another dayglo man.  Explain predicament and he asks how long I need to park for.  At least two hours, I say.  Now comes the miracle.  He holds out his hand to which is stuck a ticket – "Just found this on the floor, will this do you?"  It was for two and a half hours, until 3.45pm. Just can't believe it!  Thank you, Heavenly Helpers for sending me this angel.

Stick ticket in car and scurry (yes, it has come to that) across car park, telling Grandad there is a God and his colleague has sorted me out.  At that point, he produces a bag of change that is his personal stash and said "I was going to give you this".  I'm blown away.  Such kindness, genuine concern and generosity.  Announce to my two friends I've ordered a place for them 'upstairs', tell them I'm off to the hairdressers and, with a heavenward 'thank you', rush off.

Traffic warden Arrive at salon to be told "There's a problem today, the client before you . . ."  Was just about to go into a depression when word was received from the recesses of the salon that 'she' would do it after all.  I'm shown to seat.  Given latte and mags.  Things definitely improving.  There's much flitting of staff between clients.  Announce they're short staffed. Why am I telling you this?  Because I'm 18 minutes past the end of my ticket time as I leave, praying the ever vigilant traffic wardens aren't circling my vehicle like vultures around carrion. 

Clatter down pavement – knew I shouldn't have worn those boots – enter car park and my two gents are smiling and waving at me.  They're very pleased with themselves.  "You're 20 minutes over" the ticket giver said.  "Oh, I know, been to the hairdressers and they were short staffed."  "We know where you've been", they chorused "and it really is your lucky day!"  Now extremely animated, the supplier of the ticket continued "The traffic warden came and I stood in front of your car and kept him talking so he didn't check it. He went over the other side and gave someone there a ticket but it's OK because they had one but it had fallen off so they can cancel the ticket."  All becoming technical now.  But my guardian angels 'in the flesh' had banded together to protect me from the predator.  

How amazing in this day and age.  Mind you, they took the edge off it by asking if I remembered where I'd parked the car.  Felt like saying "Your in the Alzheimer bracket, boys not moi" but smiled sweetly and pointed in the general direction.  

As I drove across the expanse of the car park, my mates were waiting and waving to me.  Grandad wasHumbugs waving so vigorously he dropped his stick.  Wondered for a minute if I should reverse, drive over and assist.  My faith in the goodness of the human soul is forever restored.  

Between them they'd made my day and, know what?  I think I made theirs!  I'll go back with a box of sweets or biccies for their little hut.  Or do gentlemen of a certain age favour humbugs?

 Answers on a postcard, please. 

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