18: By a Hair

18: By a Hair

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

By a Hair

Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.


One weekday morning I pulled into the Great Clips parking lot for my normal quarter-inch trim. Then I looked in the rearview mirror and started second-guessing myself. Did I really need a haircut? I had driven fifteen minutes to get there and I don’t know why I suddenly questioned my plan.

After staring into the mirror for a long time, I opted not to go inside. I would go pick up a prescription instead, at the pharmacy twenty blocks due north of Great Clips, on the same street in fact.

But then, I made my second unexplained decision of the morning; I started to drive east, back toward home, instead of up the road toward the pharmacy.

When I realized I was heading in the wrong direction, I decided to turn at the next intersection and head north. But then, for some reason I don’t understand, I started zigzagging through the streets, not taking a direct route to the pharmacy. I felt like something was tugging at me now.

As I worked my way haphazardly toward the pharmacy, I came upon a sizeable traffic jam. It looked like it might be a wreck of some sort. I spotted a small street that would lead me around the slowdown and put me back on course in no time. The other drivers were taking the same detour, and as I began to follow them, I felt another tug, to get back in the traffic jam and head straight toward the wreck.

When I finally got to the accident that was causing the traffic jam, I saw a damaged white Acura SUV on the side of the road, right next to a police car and people milling about. My daughter Lauren had a car just like that. But it wouldn’t be her — nothing bad could happen to my Lauren — the star athlete, tough dynamic mother of two little kids.

And then I saw her. It was Lauren. I parked across the street and walked over as casually as I could so as not to startle her. She was as stunned as I was. She had cuts and burns from the airbag but was displaying her legendary athletic toughness to be strong for her kids.

Thankfully they were solidly restrained in car seats and not hurt. I held three-year-old Ava while Lauren talked to the police. Ava wondered aloud why her car was so “dirty!” Little baby Drew was unaware of the upset, now dozing in his mother’s arms.

Lauren kept asking me, “Why are you here?” I started to explain my haircut plans and my weird driving route but felt the whole story was too complicated and unbelievable. So I said, “I just thought you might need my help.” As soon as I spoke I asked myself if that made sense. Did she understand what I meant? I later found out that she did.

My no-haircut day was over a year ago. I have often wondered how my meandering drive could lead me right to the crumpled SUV. I’m still puzzled why I didn’t get that haircut in the first place.

~Doug Couch

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