One of those ‘God Encounters’ they keep telling us about at church

Every once in a while, God gives me a test that I feel like I fail miserably.

(But first, to the lady at The Boys Farmer’s Market who recommended the Tocca Pinot Noir? I am pleasantly surprised. And maybe I’m not even so much as tasting it as freebasing it right now. It’s a 2008, which I’m sorry but I don’t drink new wines < / wine snob>, but since these young grapes are designed to be consumed right away, I have to say my skepticism was unwarranted.)

Anyway, I ran to grab some kitty litter (highlight of my day) when a couple of strangers told me they were out of gas and out of money and they had a little gas can and would I be able to do anything to help them?

They were tattooed and pierced and truly as nice as can be. It was a guy and a girl, and they had borrowed the guy’s sister’s minivan. I looked at the gas can and said I didn’t understand — there were four (overpriced) gas stations within walking distance.

Ah, the no-money thing.

As I had no cash on me per usual, and not much of which to speak in the ol’ bank account. (Ask Mom, who hasn’t eaten in four days, how little cash I have. And yes, she was invited to Christmas dinner yesterday but Noooo, she didn’t partake and sat around hungry all day, waiting for me to come home, which I didn’t do till after midnight. The view must be SPECTACULAR from atop the cross.)

Even though my own gas tank is always hovering near “fumes,” I figured I could spot them a few gallons. So I took the girl (who was mortified at their situation and as perplexed at the gas can as I was) around the corner, got the whopping one gallon of gas that it would hold, and took her back to their car.

I was wondering, of course, if this were some sort of setup, as it was dark and late and all. I asked the girl’s name and got her talking and I could tell she was genuine. She’s lived in South Florida for three months — can’t find a job, everything goes wrong for her here, her credit card was stolen (two out of three of those and you have me) — and she’s ready to move back to Cocoa Beach.

Anyway, she was just mortified at having to beg strangers for money and I was the only one who gave them the time of day. I said it’s Christmas; I couldn’t walk away because I’m familiar with “down on your luck.” And if it were me, I probably would have suffered because I can’t ask for help, either.

So we got back to their car and they thanked me for taking the time of day to help them — and I thanked them for being good people and this not turning into a crazy situation. 🙂

I wished them a happier new year than 2009 had turned out for them. They said God bless, and I said the same.

As I pulled away, I overheard the guy saying that the single gallon wouldn’t get them back to Broward County. And as I neared the ramp for I-95, I realized what I SHOULD have done was followed them to the gas station and put a few more gallons in their tank.


It’s funny — I have my dependent sitting at home with no food (because she won’t go out and GET any with the tiny bit of cash she has right now), and I’m agonizing over not helping strangers enough. Go figure.

I didn’t even think about getting back to Broward. His sister had told him the tank was full but it takes a little over an eighth of a tank to get to where we were from there.

The only real comfort I take in not having had the right idea until too late was that they’d had a few beers at my favorite restaurant in the area — and I hadn’t eaten all day ’cause Mommy hadn’t and I would rather have DIED than spend my last few bucks on coaxing her off the cross on my day off — so they had to have known the car was running on nothing when they went in, right?

Anyway, I feel bummed nonetheless, and I hope they found a way to make it home and aren’t stuck on 95 because I didn’t think quickly enough.

This just feels like a metaphor for my life — I have my share of wayward souls and I do my best to give them a hand or, at least, a start, but they can’t get past “go” if I don’t finish the job for them. I feel like God has administered the same exam to me repeatedly, and I never show up with two sharpened No. 2 pencils that’ll take me the whole way through the test.

I just wish I could get out of this “Groundhog Day” groove and not feel the need to build a fortress around my innate generosity because it’s been so used and abused for so many years. I hate being suspicious of everyone and everything. And I hate it even more that I don’t feel like I solved a problem but, rather, prolonged the arrival at a solution.

Story of my life, I guess.

One Lonely Response to One of those ‘God Encounters’ they keep telling us about at church

  1. chris hayes :


    First off, loved the “view from the cross” analogy.

    Second, you stopped. Which in and of itself is remarkable, particularly in this day and age ( Hello, Ennis Cosby). They weren’t trying to snow you. You can’t beat yourself up over the should have’s. The Man Upstairs has gotten me home on fumes many a time. Pray that they found their way. And, for what it’s worth, I’m proud of you.