fill up the tank
Sat August 27 2011
“Excuse me, ma’am?” He says…I hate the Ma’am thing, makes me feel old…
I peek my head around the gas pump…shortish guy…missing a couple of teeth..bad tattoos… “Yea?”
“You got 50 cents? I just need a little gas.”
I look in the car…four guys. They could be in their 20’s or they could be my age. They all look …worn. “Where you headed?”
Something about this guy, the way he asked, the energy in his light blue eyes…I grab my card…undo his gas cap without asking. I start pumping.
“I can show you it’s on empty…hey buddy” he says to the driver, “turn the key…see if she’ll start.”
“Listen,” I say, “I don’t care if it’s empty. You don’t need to show me anything. I have been there…I have a couple of bucks now, I may not have it tomorrow. It’s fine.”
“Ok, Ma’am, you know I hate asking, I am ashamed. People judge me by my tattoos, but I am not a felon or anything.”
“It’s ok, people judge me too and you probably don’t believe me that I’ve been in your spot…and there is no shame in asking for help. By the way, I don’t care if you are a felon.”
Then he says, God Bless…I have heard this before…but never from someone who meant it, really meant it before. He asked my name and asked my permission to say a prayer for me. Now, normally, I hate that stuff..it is always so contrived…used to manipulate the person into giving or something~ said in a way that makes you know they are only saying it because they think you wanna hear it. Not true this time, there was something in his eyes…those light blue eyes that told me a tiny truth in that moment. He saw me and I saw him~ever so briefly, we were the same… Isn’t that what we all need…isn’t that what he needed? Simply to be seen by another human being is a blessing.
When I finish pumping, I get back in my car. His buddy starts the car and yells something to the guy in the back seat, the guy I was talking to; I don’t think they expected a full tank…..I realize I didn’t ask his name so I roll down my window ~Juan~
I may have decided to fill his tank, but he filled me up as well….He has no idea how much he helped me tonight and this simple act of filling a tank gave me more than he’ll ever know…
I can never say who helped who more….yeah, he and his buddies will get to Espanola tonight…and have a couple more days worth of gas…how long can my empty tank draw strength from him?
Thanks Juan…I’ll remember your eyes. I will say a prayer for you and for myself tonight~ that we both stop feeling shame…it is so useless. I will also pray that I can help “fill more tanks” of the people around me and that I can ask for help filling my tank when I am low.