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A couple of bucks

 

I pulled ingo the WAWA gas station, it was waking up and already busy with people and being in a rush.  

I found a gas pump, parked, turned off the car and got out. I investigated the pay pad at the pump and felt the cool air of the morning dance around me confusing my mood. I breathed in the subtle scents of sadness, desperation, and fuel. After taking a minute to figure out how to pay, I locked the pump into place and stepped back into the car to put my wallet away.

I sprayed my hands with sanitizer, then glanced down at the phone. A few seconds later, I saw someone approaching me from out of the corner of my eye. The person was on the passenger side of my car and slowly getting closer, I didn’t look up, I’d hope they’d just go away, thinking they’d go away…if I didn’t look up.

They didn’t go away.

As soon as I glanced up, I saw the person standing there, a man, a young man, a young man that time made look older. He was waving his hands, saying something I couldn’t hear. The car window was rolled up. He seemed patient, but restless.

The expression on his face was one of slight panic, minor distress, kindness, and exhaustion. His body was covered in tattoos, he wore a thin white tank top, silver chain and a black hat perfectly turned backwards.

I quickly tried to communicate with him, but I couldn’t roll down the window. I panicked. I forgot the car was turned off, then started wrestling with the start button. He stayed there, our anxiety balancing off each other as I hurried with trepidation to turn on the car and roll down the freakin’ window.

It seemed like minutes before I was able to calmly process everything and react with a plan, I finally got my car on, turned off the child lock and pressed the button to invite the strange man’s words into my day.

As the window rolled down, I thought for a moment, while doing a quick scan around the gas station, “he surely wouldn’t want to rob me?”, “and with all these people around, it’s too early in the day to want to rob someone.”

Just as soon as those thoughts weighed heavy on my everything, the window was down and there we were. Only seven feet and a car door were all that separated us.

“I’m sorry would you have a couple of bucks for gas?”, the man asked. “My car is that white truck over there”, he pointed, but I didn’t look. “I feel like such a dumb ass for having to ask for money”.

I didn’t say anything, only thing I thought was, the last time I was here, a very young girl standing at the front of the store had asked me for money as well.

He saw me grab for my purse, then I thought, how easy it would be for him to reach into my car and crab my purse. I took a deep breath small enough for him not to notice. He just needed a few bucks I quickly reminded myself.

I opened my wallet and saw that I had a twenty-dollar bill and two ones, I grabbed the two dollars and swiftly held it out to take, while leaning over the passenger seat.

“Thank you so much!” he said without a smile, and then very quickly left.

I was happy to help, to have had that extra cash in my wallet to give him.

I got out of my car and turned my attention to the gas pump, put it away and printed out my receipt.

I got back in my car sat for a moment, then looked over. I noticed the white truck. It was parked a few pumps over; the man had his back to mine talking to someone on the driver side, ladders, tools, and buckets were piled high in the back of their truck, “maybe a job they were trying to get to?”

Maybe not.

I glanced down at my receipt and the words, “holy shit!” quickly escaped me.

Fifty-six dollars and seventy-eight cents!

Three dollars and thirty-four cents a gallon. Amazed, I put my car in drive while shocked at how much it cost to put gas in the tank.

“Damn” I said out loud, “he won’t even be able to get a gallon of gas.

As I drove away, I wished I could’ve given him that twenty-dollar bill,

but I’m okay with it because I need it for gas.

 

 

 

 

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