It was 1979, and I was a sergeant on the police department's Northwest Team. I encountered two girls who had run out of gas, and were basically broke. They were on the way back to Kansas after a road trip, and had miscalculated their cash reserves. I sprung for $5 worth of regular at the Sinclair, so they could make it home. It isn't uncommon at all for police officers to help someone with a few gallons of gas, a bucket or chicken, or a box of diapers, but last weekend this one came back to roost from the mists of time. Here is the story.
Tonja and I took advantage of the Armistice Day weekend to take a trip to Kansas City for some Christmas shopping. We settled in for two nights at the airport Hilton. We stayed here a couple times before when we were flying from MCI, and liked the accommodations. It is a long ways from the Plaza, but there was a deal-to-good-to-refuse available, and it's close to one of Tonja's other favorite shopping areas, Zona Rosa. I started looking for a restaurant in the north metro for Sunday, so we wouldn't have to backtrack on our last night. I was thinking of someplace new, that we hadn't been to before. After a few minutes with Yelp, I stumbled upon Justus Drugstore in Smithville, MO, which was just a few minutes northeast of our hotel just beyond the fringe of the Kansas City metropolitan area. The reviews looked great, so I snagged a reservation.
Dinner was excellent, and we loved the restaurant. We chatted with our server, Cindy, about how pleased we were to find such a gem, and lamented our misfortune at living so far away. "Where are you from?" she asked. "Lincoln," we replied. "Ah, Lincoln," she said, "I have such fond memories of Lincoln. Back when I was 18, I got stranded in Lincoln on my way back from Iowa, and a police officer bought me some gas to get home." The hair on the back of my neck suddenly came to attention. "You had a girlfriend with you," I said, "Pretty sure that was me. You must be about 51 or 52 now."
We were both shocked and tingling. Tonja was speechless. Pretty soon, chef-owner John Justus was over at out table, and we were retelling the story. Cindy, it turns out, tells this story to most all of her guests from Lincoln. We posed for a group photo, and exchanged handshakes and hugs. What a night, what a dinner, and what a story! It was one of those moments when you realize that a bigger hand is moving the pieces on the chessboard of life.