We were closed, technically, because it was after 3pm. It had been a picture perfect New England autumn day, redolent with sunshine glinting off golden leaves. We had worked through a lunch rush that lingered and perhaps that was why the door was still open at 3:30. As I walked over to lock it I found a man with a small boy who asked me if I knew when the train would be coming by. He explained that his son very much wanted to see the train and he had offered him a cookie while they were waiting. Could they come in for a cookie and watch the train?
I was brought back to when my son was young and captivated by trains. We brought him to North Conway to ride the old steam train and read him books at night about engines and the fastest trains in the world. We watched Thomas the Tank Engine on television and encouraged his collection of miniatures from the series. I asked the little boy if he knew about Thomas and James, the red engine, and he nodded and reminded me of Percy and Clara. "But who is the best engine?" asked his father. The little boy didn't hesitate and gleely shouted, "Thomas!" The father then asked the boy why. "Why is Thomas the best engine?" The boy smiled and tilted his head into his father's coat with his answer, "Because he is kind."
I glanced over at these two as I cleaned the dining room. They had taken a high table at a window overlooking the commuter rail tracks. They purchased two cookies, a chocolate chip for the boy and lemon shortbread for the dad, and they effortlessly shared them amidst laughter, the boy eagerly looking at the window for the train which was due at 3:47. Two minutes before its arrival, they went outdoors to watch it pass and stood very close to the tracks and returned with their hair windblown. The boy's face was the picture of bliss. "Can we stay and watch the next train?" he asked.
Before they left, the father thanked me for my kindness. I assured him that no thanks was necessary as their visit reminded me that some of the best moments in life can be found while eating cookies and waiting for a train to pass by with someone you love.