Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Stopping for a spiritual fuel fill-up


Yesterday I had to stop for gas. Normally this wouldn't mean anything.

Yesterday it did.

I was next to the airport and the "empty" light had been showing for a good bit of time. I didn't dare push it so I stopped at the closest place I could. The ghetto. On top of that, the gas was $4.09. Ahhhhh! I didn't seem to have too much choice so I pulled in to the first gas station off the freeway, ready to fill up and run. I didn't care the price at this point. Before even stepping foot out of my car I felt very uneasy, as if someone was starring at me. Looking at the car next to me I find 4 older gentlemen, all of whom look like they just got in from off the streets and non of which looked like they could or should drive. The "driver" was starting to get into the car but had stopped mid sit to stare. At me. I started back, feeling like a deer in headlights. I couldn't break the stare. For some reason I wanted to see him break it first. That was not going to happen. He hadn't even finished sitting down into his seat. He was still half sitting in the air. I got out with much delima. Do I leave the wallet in the car where I can't see it or do I take it with me where I can see it, but so can everyone else? I left it in the car. I took my credit card and keys... that was it. I don't know why the keys because anyone who is insane enough to steal a car with three young kids in it probably gets what would be coming to them! I had only but stepped out of the car to find a homeless man approaching another guys for something. Nervousness hit me with the fear he might approach me. The other guy mentioned something about not having anything, and walked off. The Homeless guy glanced my way but continued on his way. Then for some reason I felt guilty. He hesitated in his steps taking him further from me and walked back in my direction. Here he comes, I thought... not knowing how I felt about this. "Ma-am, would you be willing to let me pump your gas for you for some change? I just need a little more so I can buy a sandwich down the street." -as he shows me the meager change he pulled out of his pocket. His voice was sweet and gentle. I paused, and was ashamed of myself. My husband and I have been talking a lot lately about helping those in need. Here it was in front of me and I should have been jumping on this small chance. "Please, don't worry about my gas or doing anything else, but I would be happy to help you". I went back to the car, although a little scared to turn my back on him. I went for the small change I had, then the guilt hit again. I reached in my wallet and pulled out a dollar bill. I never carry cash and new I needed to use it now, so I reached in and pulled out another dollar. I turned around and handed this man 2 dollars. That's it. Such a small amount for me (couldn't feed my whole family on that very easily) but two meals for him at McDonalds. He then wanted to shake my hand and thank me over and over for this kindness. I didn't want him to touch my hand at all, but knew that was all he had to give. So I let him. No, actuall I shook his hand back. He had both hands on mine telling me thank you. He was starring at me so intensly I was at first uncomfortable. Was he memorizing my face so he could do something to me later? Was he distracting me while some else was getting into my car or my wallet? Or, could it simply be that I needed to relax. Looking back in his eyes you could see a soul. A very grateful and lonely soul. No friends, no family, no human contact other than disgust. "My name is Joel". "My name is Diana, it's a pleasure to meet you", and I meant it.

As he walked off the discomfort of where I was returned. I noticed the car of gentlemen, the one still frozen in a stare. At me. I quickly decided I had enough gas to get back home. It was hard to shake that eerie feeling left from that stare, but even harder to shake was that wonderful feeling from the stare of Joel.

I love geting these small moments. And to think of how many of them I pass up makes me sad.

2 comments:

Mrs. JoAnne Mabey said...

i am so proud to call you my sister, you gave me chills and tears! THANK YOU and i love you so much! thanks for being such an example!

~~heatherD said...

That was an awesome story...you really shared something special with us...I needed to hear a "human" story today. You are awesome! ((hugs))