42: Saved by “The Look”

42: Saved by “The Look”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven

Saved by “The Look”

I miss thee, my Mother! Thy image is still
The deepest impressed on my heart.
~Eliza Cook

Many of us remember the power of “The Look” with which our mothers showed disapproval. “The Look” could convey such a strong wordless message that it would stop us in our tracks. My own mother used “The Look” rarely, but effectively.

Even though I am far, far away from childhood and my mother died some years ago, I frequently remember her voice or see her face as I navigate through life. But I rarely think of “The Look” anymore. Thus it was a surprise when the image presented itself to me at an entirely unexpected moment.

On a summer afternoon, I was running late to an appointment. As I hurried across town, I looked at the gas gauge and saw the tank was almost empty. Not willing to risk running out of gas, I pulled into a service station. I leaped out of the car, slipped my credit card in the slot and began to fill up the tank. I looked west at the Rocky Mountains, and then glanced around, noticing that only one other car was there.

I had skipped lunch and suddenly realized I was hungry and thirsty. The more I thought about food, the more I wanted to run into the small station and buy some snacks. I argued with myself that I didn’t have time, and my empty tummy was about to win the argument when I heard a voice I hadn’t heard for a long, long time. I heard a loud “NO!” The power and strength of that word startled me. Still, I reached into the car for my purse when I heard it again, but this time I saw my mother’s face with “The Look.” With some confusion, I obediently dropped my purse back on the car seat and turned to replace the nozzle. How odd it felt to be chastised so strongly for simply wanting to buy a little snack!

As I replaced the gas cap I felt a rush of movement behind me and heard pounding feet as a man raced out of the station and into his car. With screeching tires he raced away as the cashier came staggering out of the door yelling, “Did you see him? Did you see that guy? He just pulled a gun on me and took all the money from the drawer!”

By the time he arrived at my car he was so shaken that he sank down to the ground. I tried to gather my wits.

“Just now?” I asked. “You were robbed at gunpoint JUST NOW?”

The cashier’s hands were shaking, and he asked again, “Did you see him? I’ve got to call the manager and the police and if you saw him you could give a description.”

But I couldn’t describe the man who had been a blur as he ran to his car and drove off. I only had a vague recollection of the car. What I remembered was the vivid image of my mother that had appeared and the loud “NO!” All I knew was if I had gone into the station when I wanted to, I would have interrupted the robbery. I would have walked in on a man holding a gun right by the front door. He might have turned it on me. He might have panicked and shot me and the cashier. I sat beside the cashier on the dirty pavement, my hand on his trembling arm, and felt my heart thumping wildly at what might have been. I closed my eyes and gave silent thanks to God for His mercy and a mother whose care extended beyond the boundary of death to keep me safe in this life.

~Caroline S. McKinney

More stories from our partners