Thursday, May 18, 2006

BROTHER, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?

Okay, so I'm driving to work. It's dark. I'm out of gas.

I pull into the first filling station that I come across where gas is under a million dollars per gallon. I see one with $2.59 on the marquee, and I whip the Tomato Cruiser off the road and up to the pump. By the way, I call my car the Tomato Cruiser because, frankly, it is the same shape and color as a tomato. I'm not always creative.

So I'm filling up my tank and suddenly there's this voice shouting across the lot from the ice machine. I look up, hoping to God that whoever it is isn't hollering at me, while at the same time knowing that I couldn't be that lucky. I'm just hoping that whoever it is isn't some insane lunatic.

I'm 0 for 2 on the wishlist.

Some crusty old dude is standing by the ice machine looking directly at me. Be invisible, I whisper to myself, be invisible. Unfortunately, anyone who knows me knows that I have about the same chance of being invisible as ice has a chance of being hot.

Now I'm used to people coming up to me at gas stations trying to bum a dollar. It's usually fairly comical to listen to them try to make up some ludicrous backstory about how they're a war veteran or they have some debilitating injury and your one dollar, yes yours, is the only remaining obstacle between them and a bus ticket back home to Gloryville where they are headed to get the treatment they seek or meet the family that abandoned them long ago. The truth is so obvious from the outset. I think if one of them were to actually come up to me and just tell me that all they really wanted was a 40 ounce of beer, I'd probably take them in the store and buy it myself. That has never once happened, ever.

But this guy isn't quite wanting that. "Hey," he hollers. I pretend not to hear him while swiping my card in the pump, figuring I'll just jump in my car once I'm done and speed off, leaving him and not risking any more of my life than I have to.

No way that's happening. He walks over, introduces himself in a slurred voice, and offers his hand for me to shake. There's really nothing anyone can do in this situation, so I shake his hand and withdraw quickly. Mercy, but he has rough calloused hands. I'm thankful for the bottle of Purell in my glove compartment. "I thought you was Mike," he says. I don't know who Mike is, but I wish he was here.

"Mike helps me out sometimes. Hey, look, man, I ain't got nothin' right now but one blunt left." At this point he pulls out his bag of weed, and I'm beginning to see where I think this is going. "I don't never smoke alone," he says. "You wanna come help me smoke this?"

Ok, not even where I thought this was going.

"I don't have any cash on me," I say quickly.

He looks at me like I'm the one that's crazy. "You don't need no cash, man. You take half, and I'll take half, and we'll smoke this." This guy's not trying to sell me the stuff; he's just wanting me to help him use it. "I'm sorry," I say. "I don't smoke weed." He rambles on for some time more. My tank fills up, and I'm ready to cut out.

Shoot. The receipt printer at the pump isn't working. I contemplate just leaving without it, but then... no... better get it, just in case I forget to post the amount. I figure if I ditch him and go into the store, maybe he'll leave me alone.

Nope.

When I come out, he's still there, holding the pot out for the world to see, asking me if I want to toke up with him. At this point, I'm feeling sorry for him. He's obviously out of his mind. God only knows what sort of Hell his life has been to bring him to the point where he hangs out around gas stations just trying to find people to light up with.

Obviously I don't go smoke with him, but I do hand him a dollar, even though I know where it's going to go. Sometimes you just have to give on faith.

I drive off. And then he's gone. Out of my life, never to be seen again. I wonder what will happen to him.

Another lost soul added to the list of people I pray for every night, and another note of thankfulness to God that my life has gone so right, where others have gone so wrong...

4 Comments:

At 2:06 AM, Blogger Stacy said...

Don't you sometimes wonder if a reality TV show is right around every corner? Some sort of "candid camera" thing where Jay Leno is actually watching and hoping that some good comedy arises for his show?? I mean...what if some new TV show is trying to get piloted and you just ruined it?

"Stay tuned for a new reality series, 'Lightin' Up With Larry' - a show where good times are shared with everyone!"

Poor fella. I think I'll pray for the dude tonight, too.

 
At 8:05 PM, Blogger Kristin said...

Hey JD, you said you were looking to trade lives for a day and you may have just had your first "Eva Las Vegas" moment. Of course, I am a bit of a cow and would really have laughed myself stupid (after forcing cash upon poor guy) over some dude offering me pot in the gas station...

You keep sending good thoughts out... the Lord knows we could use them.

 
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