Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Generosity at a gas station

Today, on my way to a doctor appointment, I realized I had to get gas in the car on my way there. I was almost out of gas and I didn’t want to run out on my way to my appointment, so I decided I’ll just stop on the way to get just $5 of gas and be off. Shouldn’t take too long, right? Just $5 of gas was fast and it’d put enough in my tank to get me there and back. I’d be in and out of there, right? Wrong.

When I got to the gas station, I told the attendant I wanted $5 of gas. (Let me say here I did not hold up my hand to show five fingers like I normally do, but I DID repeat what I said.) He asked for my store card after I handed him my debit card. So I handed that over, too.

When he set the pump up on my car, I noticed that he walked away. This confused me. Why did he walk away? Normally, when I buy just $5 of gas, the gas station attendant stays at the pump until it’s done. So I was concerned about this. I tried to find the guy but didn’t see him.

Then I looked at the gas pump. Oh. My. God. It was going past $10. Then $20, Then $30. Oh, my God!!

I jumped out of the car and frantically looked for the attendant. But he was NOWHERE. I saw another attendant and, pointing at the pump that was still running up the cost of gas, I cried out, “How do you turn that thing off?!” He saw my predicament and ran over to the pump. But right when he got there, it stopped.

It had filled my gas tank.

I practically crumbled into a million pieces on the ground. There went the money I would need to pay for my doctor appointment. And then some!

As the attendant was placing the pump back into the holder and closing the gas tank on my car, I started to freak out. What would I do? I almost even cried. I didn’t WANT a full tank of gas! I just wanted $5!

I explained all this to the attendant. He said something but I couldn’t lipread him. I told him that I’m deaf and to please speak slower. He explained that he would tell the people in the office about what happened and everything would be taken care of. He told me to wait there then walked off.

I stood next to my car, trying to get ahold of myself. This has NEVER happened to me before, so I didn’t know what would happen. If I was now without the money for my doctor appointment or something else. I also worried that they would not believe me.

Finally, another person came over to where I stood. She was a lady nicely dressed and it said “manager” on her name tag. She said that we could go into the store with my card and they would reimburse the extra money back onto my card. They would also take out of the gas tank the extra gas so that there was only the requested $5 left in there. (I didn’t know they could do this! And I thought they needed special equipment to do this but the lady said they could do that right at the pump.)

So I followed her into the store. She talked to the store associate and stayed there to watch as he went through the motions of putting that money back onto my card. I was sure to keep both receipts from this. After that was settled, I rushed back to my car because I was still running late for my doctor appointment.

When I got back to the gas pumps, I asked the man if he’d already removed the extra gas from my car. He said that everything was fine. “Everything’s okay?” I asked him. He said yes. He seemed really nice, too, even as he waved when I was driving away, and as I drove, I thought, ‘Gee, what a friendly guy.’

Now, when I got back into the car, the first thing I looked at was the clock. EEK! Panic! I was gonna be late for my appointment. I started the car and drove off.

But as I was driving …. My eyes fell on the gas gauge. And that’s when I noticed …. I had a full tank!!


I started to panic AGAIN. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. First, I thought maybe it was a glitch. The needle would move down to wherever the $5 worth of gas would be. But noooo. It stayed on “F.”

The entire time I drove to my appointment.

I panicked over this. Oh, m God. I’m a thief! They’re gonna arrest me! I’ll go to jail and I’ll never see my kids again! The judge will dart angry eyes at me and announce, “YOU ARE GUILTY FOR STEALING GAS!”

In fact, I was so freaked out over this, I started to have trouble breathing. THEN I realized I was having trouble breathing because of my anxiety over this situation and HAD to get a hold of myself. I had to calm down. Stop these breathing problems.

So first I tried the breathing exercises I do when I have trouble breathing. That did not work. Next I tried to focus myself on what I was doing right now. I kept telling myself, “I am driving right now. I need to pay attention to my driving right now. I need to pay attention to my driving!”

That, too, did not work. The breathing problems continued.

Finally, I took a harsher tone in my voice and I commanded myself, “Breathe! BREATHE!”

And that is what worked. Eventually, I was able to breathe okay again. Thank goodness!

That settled, I came up with a plan. After my doctor appointment, I would go to the bank to explain what happened and BEG them not to charge a fee against the account. Then after that I would go to the gas station, find the attendant, and say something like, “You didn’t take the extra gas out of my car. What gives? Get to it!” Or, something like that. Haha. The point is, I would make it right. It was the right thing to do.

At my doctor appointment, I was talking wth the ASL interpreter about what happened. I was trying to figure out where things had gone wrong. I thought maybe I had not spoken clear enough. (I knew I should’ve held up five fingers!!) But she said, “You speak very clearly.” Maybe I did not speak loud enough. She said, “Or maybe he wasn’t paying attention.” Well, whatever had caused this mess, it had still happened, and I had to set things right. So after my appointment, that’s what I did.

But when I was at the gas station, things did not work out the way I thought they would.

I did find the attendant. And when I saw him, I said, “I thought you took the extra gas out?”

He acted all friendly again and said, “No, I gave that to you.’

It took a moment to sink in. WHA—This guy … this gas station attendant … paid $30-something dollars in gas for a complete stranger? Really?

I was really taken aback. And touched. I even asked him if he meant what I thought he said he meant and he said yes.

I took his hand and squeezed it. “Oh, thank you!” I said. What a nice thing to do for someone!! Wow! That is just so …. So …. Really, really nice. (When I told Jennifer this story later, she was surprised at such generosity and also thought that was very nice.)

We wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving before I hurried back to the car.

Back in my car, I could only sit there, stunned but so moved. Wow. I could not believe this act of kindness just happened. I smiled. How nice! And I would make sure that one day, I would pay that act of kindness forward to another person who was in a similar situation.

I would definitely have another thing to be thankful for this year. Yay!

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