A Lost Wheel Cover

A Lost Wheel Cover

From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon

Everyday we’re stuffed with news that the world is crumbling and the sky is falling. Thus far there’s no evidence of either even if the headlines tell us otherwise. If we look with opened eyes that are not cast downward we might find a glimpse of something more humanly hopeful. Small reminders of humanity inch us towards believing that while life is hard it’s not without its merits.

A small example occurred to me in recent days on my familiar drive to Beth Israel along North Braeswood. As I approached the turn into the drive, I saw a wheel cover (hubcap) on the side of the road. Someone purposely propped it up on a signpost; perhaps the driver who lost it might find it and retrieve it. Sometimes a loose wheel cover falls off and rolls down the street. Later, the driver discovers that it’s gone and either pays to replace it or adds it to another list of dents and mars already on the car. Years ago, it was common courtesy to put a wheel cover on the side of the road so the driver who lost it might come along the same route and find it, again, and feel grateful.

Today, we’ve been told that nothing we own is ever safe. We shouldn’t leave anything at all in our cars, we have to lock the doors, to light up our houses, to set the alarms, and, if it’s our preference, to arm ourselves. Sometimes it even makes a difference. And then, along North Braeswood, instead of taking it or discarding it, someone propped up a wheel cover on a signpost for the driver who lost it to come around again and find it. Why?

Maybe the answer lies in an old courtesy drivers used to pay one another; like the tap on the horn we make to awaken a distracted driver who’s still texting when the red light turns green. Maybe the answer lies in the empathy we still feel when somebody’s unfortunate luck causes them to lose something even if it’s immaterial; like the space we now create for drivers who need to merge into our lane at the last moment before taking the wrong exit from 610, in the middle of ongoing construction. Or maybe the answer lies in a nostalgic person who, walking down North Braeswood, forgot that we don’t live in times of simple courtesies anymore, and propped up the wheel cover because that’s what good people do; like when we turn off the news and stop reading the headlines only to find that we can still make a difference for our family and friends.

The point is that in a world of gloomy headlines and unprecedented hate, we have to look closely at what matters close to home and in our neighborhoods. If we do, we might even see what’s at our feet, like that wheel cover, and remember the days when leaving it by the side of the road meant something — a mitzvah — even if no one else was looking. In that moment there’s hopefulness that inches us towards believing that while life is hard it’s not without its merits. What will you see today that might prompt you to make a difference? How will you respond to someone’s want or need, whether it’s obvious or perceived? A wheel cover is replaceable, but not the human spirit of the dear soul who paused long enough to prop it up on the signpost. A simple task is not simple when it awakens us to the good around us and makes a lasting impression.


A Lost Wheel Cover 3