Monday, October 13, 2008

Buddy, Can You Spare A Tank?

It's happened to me several times. I'm filling my gas tank and someone approaches me with a sad story about how they just need a little money. Maybe it's bus money or money for milk for tomorrow's breakfast or money for gas. I gave money to someone once and then happened to go in the mart and see them getting a soft drink. Now I just tell anyone that asks that, no, I don't have any money right now.

This weekend I was filling my gas tank and heard a voice, say, "Excuse me." I looked up to see a nicely dressed elderly lady looking at me. She continued, "Could you help me get gas? Normally my daughter comes with me." I wasn't sure why she was getting gas by herself if the daughter usually does it for her but I opened my car door and got my wallet and went to the other side of the pumps where her car was parked. At that point, she told me she just didn't know how to pump the gas. She gave me her credit card and I swiped it and asked for her zip code. Then I asked her what grade she wanted, selected it and put the nozzle in her gas tank. While the car filled with gas she told me how she left and then discovered her granddaughter, who had borrowed the car the day before, had left her with an empty tank. She just never learned to pump gas. Her husband died five years ago and her daughter usually helped her get gas. I learned a lot more about her while the tank filled. When the tank was full, I handed her the receipt and said goodbye.

I not sure how I feel about my willingness to pay for some gas for a woman who looked like she could afford it when, if a scruffy looking man had come over and asked me to help him get gas, I would have said no. Even though the woman wasn't really asking me for money, I pulled out my wallet without thinking. Maybe I should be more open to helping people who might really need the money. Or less suspicious of them.


Jenny said...

Susan, that is an interesting predicament. I have not been in your gas situation, but I have been in other situations where I decided who I would give out money to and who I wouldn't based on their looks (and also knowledge of the contents of my wallet). I hate being judged by looks and I hate even more the fact that I do it.

JohnnyB said...

I have only been approached at the gas pump once for money. It was a guy who said he was a veteran who needed to get home, blah, blah, blah - I could take his address, he would pay me back, blah, blah. I gave him a couple bucks. I don't know if he bought gas or not. I don't know if that was the right thing to do or not. If people panhandled at my gas station all the time, I wouldn't have.