Roadside Assistance

I headed to work this morning, happy that with the holidays, the traffic is lighter for my commute. So even though it was raining, I was buzzing happily along. I was entering the exit from the highway to 21st Street when my morning routine was interrupted.

As I exited, slowing for the coming stop light and vehicles ahead of me, I saw a car stopped on the right shoulder. A man was trying to flag a person down to help him. He was making a "phone" sign and waving.

When I'm alone in the car, I don't usually feel it's safe to stop for vehicles on the side of the road. Too many stories of car jackings and other violence. But, just this past week, I was having a lot of car issues, and couldn't have gotten through it without a lot of help from friends. With that experience and empathy fresh on my mind and tender in my heart, I pulled over.

The man ran to my car - he was so happy that I'd stopped. He was dressed for business, and that gave me a feeling of confidence to let him into the car. I wouldn't have let him in the car so quickly but it was raining. Also, it was daylight and tons of people were going by as they exited.

I thought he needed to call someone, so I got my phone out, but before I could say anything, he introduced himself as Paul, shaking my hand warmly. A hand shake is a way of saying "you can trust me, and I respect you." It makes a difference.

He began telling me his story in a rapid-fire Yankee salesman way, but very conscientiously and wanting to assure me he was trust-worthy. I can say he said it in a Yankee-salesman way, because he proceeded to tell me that he was a salesman and a Yankee, and that he'd left his billfold at home today accidentally, and had run out of gas, and needed money for gas. He was on a sales route, in the company car, and he needed enough to fill up the car in order to complete the route.

He gave me the name of a police officer who he said had stopped and checked on him, in case I wanted to call the officer to verify his story.

He told me that he'd been on the side of the road for half and hour, and I was the only person who stopped for him. And he said that while he was waiting, he decided that he'd send whoever stopped for him over the amount they gave him out of gratitude. He also said that he knew it was God who had me stop; that he'd been saved six years ago, and believed in God's providence.

Now, oddly enough, the day before yesterday, I headed to work and forgot my purse at home. I didn't even realize it until I got out of my car and was gathering the things I was taking into the office. So, I again had a sense of how this can happen to a person.

I usually don't have more than a couple of dollars in cash at hand, but because of the car problems I'd been experiencing, I had withdrawn some extra cash in case somewhere I went wouldn't take a debit card. I happened to have enough to give him cash to fill up his car.

I gave him the money, knowing that I'm taking a risk that all of his story could be a hoax, a scam. I don't have extra money to give away, but I felt that I needed to put it in God's hands. That if he was being truthful, I was helping him out the way so many people have helped me out. And if he wasn't being truthful, God knew it. I gave him my address, so we'll see if he repays me or not. Ah, the suspense!

This reminds me of a scene in the Cary Grant / Audrey Hepburn movie, Charade:
(Her banter is in green)

Alex, how can you tell if anyone's lying or not?

- You can't.

- There must be some way.

There's an old riddle about two tribes of Indians. The Whitefeet always tell the truth and the Blackfeet always lie. One day you meet an Indian, you say, "Hey, Indian, what are you, a truthful Whitefoot or a lying Blackfoot?" He says, "I'm a truthful Whitefoot." But which is he?

Why couldn't you just look at his feet?

Because he's wearing moccasins.

Well, then, he's a truthful Whitefoot, of course.

Why not a lying Blackfoot?

- Which one are you?

- A truthful Whitefoot.

Come in. Sit down.

- Why? Do you wanna look at my feet?



David December 20, 2009 at 11:31 PM  

Hmm, that does sound pretty elaborate to just be a scam. Though it reminds me of a time recently, when someone asked me for gas money in a parking lot "to get to a job interview 10 miles away". I casually strolled to their car (which was still running) and saw they had over half a tank!

"It's almost full -- you'll get there fine!" I replied. Then they proceeded to first try and convince me that they needed more than half a tank to go 10 miles! Quickly failing that, they vehemently asserted that their gas gauge had just broken! Um yeah :) I'm interested to see how it goes with your experience though!

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