Yesterday as I exited the Publix grocery store on Ocala Street in Tallahassee I saw a little boy, maybe a seven-year-old, playing on the sidewalk directly in front of the store. I spoke to him, something innocuous like, “Hey pal,” but he didn’t respond.
I looked around, but didn’t see any adults nearby. He seemed to be keeping close to the store, so I went on to my car. No sooner had I packed my groceries into my car than I saw a little blur dash behind me. It was the little boy running hell bent for leather through the busy parking lot towards an even busier street. This 61-year-old, out of shape grandmother took off after him.
Just as he reached the intersection a car turned into the Publix parking lot and with inches to spare missed hitting him. Without hesitating the child swerved back into the parking lot and just stopped, standing stock still. The car’s driver, a young college student, pulled over and the student’s mom got out and took the child’s hand.
I had begun calling 9-1-1, but so had she. Now that I was close to him I realized he most likely was autistic. Leaving the child in her capable hands I walked back to the store and found a manager and a clerk looking out into the parking lot. Figuring they might be looking for the little guy I asked and sure enough they’d been approached by an anxious mom who’d lost her kid while shopping. So I took them out to where the woman still held the child by the hand.
We watched as mom and child were reunited and the woman who had held his hand while I ran up to the store kind of fell apart for a minute. So did I.
“I thought my son was going to hit him,” she cried on my shoulder.
“Thank God for young reflexes,” I said, patting her on the back while shaking her son’s hand.
I honestly thought I was going to see this little guy go under the wheels of a car. Once back into my own vehicle I sat shaking before I could even start it up. His angels were working overtime yesterday.
And now, the Beatles. How’s that for a segue?