(This is a re-post with minor revisions.)
Some years ago I was standing in a long, long line at a major theme park in southern California. I was bored, hot, and tired. I stuck a hand in my pocket and noticed that a sizable pile of coins had built up from all the change I’d received from the various park vendors.
An idea came to me that made my whole experience so much more pleasant, and even fun. I took out a quarter, and when no one was looking tossed it onto the ground near the sidewalk on which we were standing very close to a young child. The soil softened the sound of the coin falling. The quarter shined brightly in the summer sun and sure enough the little boy saw and picked it up, excitedly exclaiming to his parents: “LOOK WHAT I FOUND!” He beamed from ear-to-ear. I smiled just as big on the inside. This was fun!
I whispered what I’d done to My Beloved so she could enjoy the experience too. I tossed a few more coins and got similar excited reactions from other children.
The serpentine line crawled along ever-so-slowly, and we eventually got to the point where pavement was all around us, and the noise of coins hitting the hard surface would soon give me away.
I experimented and found that I could drop a coin onto the top of my shoes and the coin would roll off quietly, partially muffled by the murmuring crowd. I waited until several young children were on both sides of us in the twisting line and as carefully and quietly as I could I began sending coins their way. It was great to watch the children as they found and showed off their prize to their parents.
We smiled at each other. Soon, other parents started catching me as I released the coins. They just gave knowing looks to me, grinned, and didn’t say a thing. One winked. It became even more fun as as other parents shared our little secret. They played their part by acting surprised at the treasure that the children discovered.
If a child didn’t see a coin near them, sometimes a parent would point at it and say to their youngster, “Oh look, what’s that?” That’s all it took to start the joyful reaction.
That simple idea was so much fun and cost so little that it was one of the best entertainment values I’ve ever had!
Now, long lines full of young children are opportunities rather than than the daunting gauntlets they sometimes used to appear to be. They are opportunities to bring joy and smiles to young children, their parents, My Beloved, and me.