I was rushing to fill the tank of my rental car at a gas station in Northern Kentucky when interruprted by a voice from behind.
“Ah, you don’t want to use that,” it said in a slow drawl. “It’s diesel.”
I turned to find a scrawny 30-something man with a mouthful of bad teeth had popped up from behind the gas pump and moving toward me. He was dirty and worn, but eager to help. I pegged him as one of those good-doers who roam the countryside West of the Hudson performing random acts of kindness. I was rushing to catch my fllight back to New York, so set aside any shame I had about being the ditzy blond who couldn’t operate a gas pump and pounced with questions, all the while knowing I’d likely end up a story at tonight’s dinner table.
Like most Manhattanites I don’t own a car and am content to rely on cabs, the subway, Citi Bikes and my own two feet to navigate the city. Driving, to me, is both stressful and boring, reason alone I’d fail miserably as a long distance truck driver and could never understand people who claim to “loooove the feel of being behind the wheel.” Surely, they jest.
When I was finished, I turned to thank the stranger who was now talking without pause. I heard something about just buying a car and the gas gauge being broke. He needed money to buy some gas he said.
We locked eyes. I looked over at his girlfriend riding gunshot in the passenger’s seat. Her arms were infested with tattoos. Am I being hustled? Immigrant cabbies who speak broken English I understand. A fast-talking good Samaritan I couldn’t tell.
Grateful for this stranger who appeared out of nowhere, I dug into my purse and fished out three crumpled bills.