a heartless gas

goodwill storeSomeday I might need gas money to get to Texas , too . You never know .  I’m too old to pretend to have a baby with my wife waiting  in the car . Why Texas ?  I think it was a sick , or dying ? , father down there . And no gas to get there . And , of course , no money .

I should give you a few dollars because you asked ?   I guess  if you don’t ask ,  you probably won’t get anything .

Decades ago , when the Hari Krishnas , and the Moonies , and the Born Agains , and others , infested the L.A. airport , I was there with my old friend Fred Kail .  Why we were there I don’t remember . Neither of us had any money in those days  to fly anywhere . We must have been there to pick someone up . Doesn’t matter .

All of these  askers-of-money seemed to be dressed  well , in crisp white suits and polished shoes ,  and they carried clip boards  ; even the Krishnas ; even the Moonies . Well , at first the Krishnas wore their orange robes , enraptured smiles , and , maybe , occasionally , hopped a little . But , I suppose , that wasn’t working for them  . Some head  Hari in charge maybe talked to a marketing guy . Get a crisp white suit , he must have said ; maybe a fedora hat to cover the shaved head ? ; and don’t hop ……    and  don’t mention Rama or white rice .   The Moonies got on board , too  :  white suits  ; clipboards .

They all looked like they may work for the airport . What is it , a survey ? An airport promotion of some kind , or a security check ?  They would approach just-arrivers  , especially foreign people arriving with confused expressions , and begin their hurried spiel  , holding the clipboard as if it should be respected , as if the confused traveler were being spoken to in some official capacity . Was it Customs ? The airport broadcast continuous announcements : These solicitors don’t work for the airport . You don’t have to give them anything .

Fred and I were walking into one of the terminals when we were approached by one of these anonymous beggars shrouded in white . This one was a cute girl . Maybe in light of that Fred reached for a bill to give her . I tried in that brief moment to dissuade him . He had a fiver in his hand . What , are you crazy , Fred ? A weak moment ?  She’s a Moonie , man !  He held the five dollar bill  out to her .

” Most people give ten dollars , ” she said .

Wow ! Yeah . Pushing her luck just a little bit . Fred instantly flicked the fiver back into his pocket . ” I’m not most people , young lady , ” he said . And we were off . I was reassured . At least old Fred hadn’t completely lost his mind .okies

So , I’m pumping  twenty dollars worth of gas yesterday  into my car in the mid-day heat  , minding my own business , when a young guy , maybe twenty-two , twenty-three , walks over . I’ve seen  him approach a couple of other gas pumping people on his way across the lot . ” Meaning no disrespect …..” he says to me . His opening gambit .

I’m not in a good mood that day , you should understand . Too hot . I’m looking at his tatoos . He’s evidently covered with tattoos . How much do those cost , buddy ? , I’m thinking .  Maybe you could have saved the tattoo money for your needed gas  . He looks healthy , strong ,  despite the hang-dog expression , the ” Meaning no disrespect , sir … ”  ploy .  What , are we in the Army ? Sir ?  That’s supposed to sound respectful , to impress me ?  Melt my stone-cold heart ?  I’m supposed to be awed by this guy’s pathetic circumstances . Now , it’s my responsibility to buy his gas ? Why would that be ?

I’d rather have the fruit seller on the freeway off ramp ,  or the beggars with the cardboard signs : ”  Veteran God Bless You anything helps homeless ”  Once in a long while I hand them a dollar , although I’m not under an illusion that the dollar helps . I think the homeless veteran god blesser should go to a social agency or an established charity or a church and get the help that will keep him/her off the roadways with the scribbled bullshit  cardboard signs .mission church front

So I told the gas station beggar  , a little too firmly , that I wasn’t going to give him any money .  He walked away . He’ll find some sucker soon enough . I stepped around the other side of the pump and asked some man with a Volvo , ” Will you pay for my gas ? ”  He didn’t laugh . I could see his little ‘crazy person’ antenna immediately go up . He shook his head solemnly  and looked away . I could see that he didn’t know if I was joking or not . Can’t be too careful these days.two hobos

Maybe I wasn’t joking . Maybe I should start asking . Ask and you shall receive . If you don’t ask you won’t get . It’d be easier for me just to canvass the people at the gas station when I go for gas . Won’t someone pay for my gas ? I have to get home . My cat’s sick and I need to replace the front garden hose .  I’m trying to upgrade the modem for my DSL . Anything helps .  I want to get to Oregon next fall .  Need gas desperately . Sir . How about a few dollars  ? Meaning no disrespect .

I was walking , once , with my Danish friend , Ivan , when someone asked for money . ” You’ve chosen your lifestyle , ”  Ivan told him ,          “not me . I’ve chosen my own lifestyle . ”  The poor guy was listening . Ivan speaks authoritatively .  ” I don’t ask you to finance my lifestyle , ” Ivan said . ” You shouldn’t ask me to finance your lifestyle . ”  And we walked away . At least the  guy didn’t call us ‘sir’ and make something up about needing to get to Texas .  Or dress up in a crisp white suit and carry a clipboard .

5 Comments

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5 responses to “a heartless gas

  1. If you ever get to Texas, make sure to look me up. I’ll give you money for gas.

  2. Damn, I’ve been following this blog, just hoping for the day I could find you in a soft-touch mood. Meaning no disrespect.

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