“Justice wants to walk you to your car,” the woman says.
Our small health food store is one of my favorite places in town. It’s owned by a couple with 5 children.
I’m at the counter checking out my little bag of groceries and when I hear the woman’s voice, I glance behind me. And look down. There is a small boy with brown hair looking up at me. His mother, one of the owners, is standing behind him.
“OoooK…” I say to his mom. “That’s nice of him. Sure, he can walk me to my car.”
The checker slides my Trader Joe’s bag to me.
I take it and say to Justice, “Let’s go?”
He reaches out a spindly arm and says, “Give me your bag.”
Justice appears to be a serious, no nonsense kind of guy.
As I hand the bag over I’m glad I’ve shopped light today.
Justice has my groceries and struggles to push open the heavy glass door for me. I give it a shove from behind him.
We ease down the crumbly concrete steps of the old building and into the tiny alley. I say,
“Always look for cars when you do this. Look both ways now. Left and right.”
I want to take his hand to guide him but it doesn’t seem right when he’s walking me to the car and carrying my bag.
We quickly get to my car and I open the back door, after Justice has gamely tried to do it.
He puts the bag on the seat.
I shut the door.
“Thanks so much Justice, you were so helpful. I really appreciate your help. Be careful crossing the alley, now. Look both ways.”
I turn away and open my car door. I am half way into the seat when I hear his voice behind me.
“I take tips.”
“You do?!” I almost shout.
Bounding out of the car I stand and look down at Justice. He’s looking up at me, holding his ground.
“You take tips?”
I’m thinking, ‘How much money do you give a little kid?’
“How old are you?” I ask.
I’m thinking of my 6 year old grandson. He doesn’t know a dime from a doughnut hole. A quarter and a dollar and a hundred dollar bill are all the same to him.
I’m stalling for time to think.
“What do you need the money for?”
“Things. I need money for things. Like going to Disney Land.”
Opening my coin purse I think, ‘A quarter or a dollar?’ I decide on a quarter and put it in Justice’s out stretched hand.
He takes it and puts it in his jean’s front pocket.
He looks up at me.
“I’m Justice,” he says. “I fight for justice for the good guys against the bad guys.”
Briefly, I think, ‘Am I a good guy? Is a quarter enough to qualify?’
Justice is a serious kid. I’d like to be on the good side.
He turns to leave and I say, “Next time I’m in, I’ll ask for you. Look both ways, now. Watch for cars.”
As he carefully makes his way back to the steps and into the store I start laughing.
‘I take tips.’
I have just met a very Young Entrepreneur and perhaps a soon to be Famous Prosecutor and a Fighter for Social Justice.
I won’t forget Justice, that’s for sure. He’s a scrappy little fellow that will be grown up one day. And in those future days I may need to have him in my corner of any ring I might find myself in.
So, look around folks. Are there any kids you know that you might want to mentor or cultivate with particular attention and kindness? After all, little kids become big kids and they eventually run the world.
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