Engine sounds came from aisle 12, like there was an indy race happening in the toy aisle. The walmart associate had been called to see what the commotion was about.

As she rounded the corner, she saw a boy sitting crosslegged, playing with the hot wheels toys. He had set up a track and was racing the small metal replicas around, creating the sound affects as if they were life sized. “Sir,” Mary started.

The boy looked up with eyes filled with fear. She was about to ask him to clean up and leave but something in his eyes made her stop. She knelt down to his level and softened her tone. “What have we got here?” she inquired.

“It’s race day and everyone has come to see Andretti win!” he exclaimed, fear wiped from his expression. “Does Andretti realize he may have a race delay because they’ve said this isn’t the place for the race?” Mary explained gently.

The boy dropped his gaze, looking sullen. “What’s your name?” Mary asked. “Scott” the boy replied, not lifting his gaze. “Well Scott, where are your parents?”

“Mom’s at home, drunk, dad is gone”
Mary wanted to hug him, but company policy was no physical contact with customers.

A tear fell from the boy’s eye. Mary touched his hand. “It’s okay, you can keep playing, we just need the race to be a little quieter”

And she picked up a car and drove it around, making hushed engine noises. Scott smiled at her and drove another car behind hers, matching the vroom vroom that Mary had done. They both smiled and played a little more.

By the time the store was about to close, Mary and Scott had been playing quite a while.

“Please don’t make me go home” he pleaded. And Mary hugged him tight.