Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kindness or a Fool?

I gave my last two dollars to a stranger Sunday.

I was out and about, doing errands, and stopped for gas.  Didn’t really need it yet but I had 60 cents off a gallon points that were about to expire and that’s too much to waste. 

On my way into the lot, the car in front of me was having trouble.  I didn’t think much of it as I made my selection until an average looking man approached the woman at the pump next to mine.  I didn’t hear what he said but her response was hateful and rude.

When the man turned to go past me his shoulders were slumped.  I saw his expression.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone looking quite so defeated.  His lip was quivering and he seemed to be fighting tears.  When he met my eyes I could see the hesitation in his.  And the embarrassment.  I didn’t think.  I just motioned him over and asked what was going on.  He was out of gas and didn’t have a cent on him.

When I was sixteen I had the coolest Mustang.  It had been my grandmother’s and I adored that car.  The only problem was the gas gauge tended to stick.  I miscalculated once and ran out of gas on my way home from work.  At night.  In the middle of nowhere.  Some very nice man in a beat up old truck gave me a ride to a pay phone which was about five miles down the road.  Yes, that was before cell phones.

I saw this as my chance to return the favor.  I asked the man to take over pumping my gas so I could have both hands to dig through my wallet.  I only had two dollars with me but he assured me that would be enough to get him home.  He wouldn’t relinquish the nozzle when I attempted to take it back.  Instead he waited and finished filling my tank for me.

Perhaps I am a gullible fool.  Maybe this is how he goes about acquiring gas money every time he needs it.  I prefer to believe he was someone having a bad moment, just like I was all those years ago. 

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