Scion_xa_release_series_201Well, I’ve got bad news and I’ve got good news. Which do you want first?

The bad news.

Two nights ago, we parked Alisa’s wonderful new Toyota Scion xA, a dear little car, on the street in front of our house. We so love this car that the family has given it a charming, sing-song, Latino-crossover name. (I’m not permitted to share that name here. You can email me for the name.) Cute, peppy, easy to drive, great gas mileage, iPod jack. We rarely park it on the street. Alisa says that invites an accident.

I prefer to park on the street, because it’s easier and, in a cosmic sense, more communal. That is, I’m more likely to greet the neighbors walking out front — and more parked cars in the street “calms” the traffic, which drives too quickly down our street.

But I’ve always warned our kids to stay out of the street. I told them, “When you hear about kids getting hit by cars, 95% of that happens in the street, in the parking lot, and on the driveway. The other 5% happens within about 10 feet of the street. But no one ever gets hit by a car when they are upstairs reading a book in bed.”

This warning works for cars too, of course, and the bad news is that someone hit Alisa’s car on Thursday evening, knocking the side mirror right off the car. That’s the bad news.

So what’s the good news?

The driver left a note. The note was complete, with name and phone number, clearly written by a young driver who was nervous and contrite. What a great thing, no? An accident hurts no one and a young person steps up to the responsibility of leaving a note. “My dad has insurance.”

But there’s better news.

The driver is one of hundreds of my former Sunday school students. In fact, the driver is one of my all-time favorite former students, the kind of student who engages intellectually in the classroom debate every week, then grows up and always says “hello,” as if the teacher is a real human. There is nothing nicer for a teacher.

Except, of course, when a student from Sunday school, one who presumably learned ethics during class, demonstrates highly ethical behavior. (I wouldn’t take credit for this student’s ethics. That’s learned in the family. But I can claim that I didn’t get in the way.) Here is a young person who bonked into another car and could have simply driven off. Many’s the person, of any age, who would mutter “oops-sorry-dude” and keep on driving.

But this student chose this moment to give me the best paycheck yet for years of teaching Sunday school.

During a Sunday school class years ago, a student interrupted the classroom argument and asked, “Wait a minute! Can I actually flunk this course?”

The classroom turned quiet. I said, “No. I’m not grading you. Whether you are being graded is a theological question.”

But the note left beneath Alisa’s windshield wiper was a great test. And this student passed.