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Caught Being Good

He wore biking shorts and a tight shirt, like serious bikers wear.  He walked slowly toward the Cane Creek Park picnic shelter where I and fifteen other book club members sat, and then he stopped about ten feet away from us.  I called out, “Can we help you?”

            He nodded, pointed toward the parked cars, and asked, “Are any of you ladies driving that white Honda?”  My friend raised her hand and said, “I am.” 

            “Well, ma’am, I’m sorry, but I accidentally ran into the front fender.  It’s a very small dent.  Will you come look at it with me?”  the man said.  All sixteen women groaned and my friend walked toward her car.  We watched as he pointed to a front fender and she rubbed her hand on it.  They talked, but we couldn’t hear them.

            When she rejoined the circle, my friend said, “I couldn’t even see it, but he says there’s small dent and he’ll fix it.  My husband would probably see it, but I don’t.”  Isn’t that the way with cars and men? Men see things women don’t.

            As the club meeting continued, I was seated where I watched the man squat beside the fender and use his hands and a cloth.  After 15 minutes he approached us again, and because my friend was speaking at the club podium, I walked with him to her car.

            “I did my best to fix it.  I don’t think anyone will notice,” he said.  I ran my fingers over the fender where he pointed and it was smooth. 

            “I can’t feel anything. How’d you do that?”  I asked.

            “I’ve fixed a lot of dents and scratches on cars for friends.  It’s not hard if you’re careful,” he said and wiped the fender with a cloth he held in his hand.

            “That was really kind.  Thank you,” I said.

            “Well, ma’am, my bike hit that fender and fixing it was the right thing to do,” he said.  “Please tell your friend over there I’m really sorry and appreciate that she wasn’t upset.”

            After the meeting, all of us checked out the fender and no one could see or feel a dent, and the paint color was all the same.

            This man had been caught.  Caught being good. 

            Years ago, when I taught in an elementary school, during an April faculty meeting the principal passed out sheets of paper labeled ‘I was Caught Being Good.’ 

            “When you see a student doing something kind, something helpful, something good, fill in his or her name on this form and write the good deed,” she told us.  The timing was perfect.  At the end of the school year, kids were a bit squirrely and teachers were weary.  

            Students were excited and happy when they were complimented for being good.  Everyone wanted to be caught, and teachers’ spirits were lifted as we looked for students who did good deeds.

            Who can you catch this week?  Tell them they’ve been caught. Both of you will feel good.