EASY GO, EASY GO
I gave a stranger five dollars today.
I'm not in the habit of doling out cash. I write checks on birthdays and Christmas, and I'm a sucker for a sob story, but I seldom carry any folded green. If you walk up to me and ask if I have any spare change, I will jam my hands in my empty pockets as a courtesy. Then I'll pause for a moment before apologizing.
Sorry, man. I don't have any cash.
I was financially molested by my family. True story. There was a period of time when I wrote checks to cover missed car payments and overdue electric bills and when I finally had enough we didn't speak for long time.
I bought some pool chemicals this afternoon.
It's always more than you want to spend when you're taking care of a pool you're not even swimming in, but there I was buying chlorine tablets and shock.
As it happens, I'm between jobs at the moment. I'm okay through June, but that's when I start making big decisions.
I walked out of the pool supplies place and a kid came up to me. He explained that his car was across the street and he was trying to pay for gas but the pump kept declining his card.
Pretty fishy. That's the first thing that came to mind. Also: don't give this kid any money. He'll just use it to buy meth.
He asked if I had any spare change and I put my pool chemicals on the ground and stuck my hands in my pockets while simultaneously shaking my head and apologizing.
"I'm sorry man," I said. "I don't have any cash."
He thanked me and then he walked one way and I walked another. The kid looked to be about my son's age. Baggy shorts, a cap on his head. He was talking on his phone, probably calling someone for help.
I got to my car and I put the pool chemicals in the back seat and then I pulled a five-dollar bill from my wallet and stuck it in my pocket. Then I walked back over to where the kid was standing.
"Here," I said, handing him the money. I looked him in the eye and tried to determine if he was hustling me.
Why was he over here when his car was across the street? Wasn't that gas station closed anyway? Maybe he realized the gas station was closed and he was trying to raise money to buy a gas can.
I didn't ask him any questions. At this point, it was about trying to do a very small good deed for a kid who could have been my son, not about dissuading a stranger to refrain from purchasing narcotics.
He asked me if I worked in the area and I shook my head. I couldn't figure out why he was asking and then it dawned on me just as he said it.
"I'll pay you back," he said.
Methheads don't do that, do they?