I have quite and extensive library of VHS and DVD movies. I like to go buy those $5 ones that I saw once 10 years ago. I can watch my favorites four or five times. My wife on the other hand, only watches the movie one time, unless it’s Momma Mia, or New in Town.
My wife had the flu the other day, so I went to town to get the mail. Haven’t I explained, that I live in the middle Midwest? I live out in the country. It’s not that the government doesn’t provide RFD (that’s Rural Free Delivery) mail, to us, it’s just that our house sits way off the road, I can’t see my mail box. Evidently my existence has set one of my neighbors off, because my mail box and it’s contents have been the subject of their attention for some time. So, tired I was of not getting our mail or having to replace mailboxes (which none of our other neighbors seem to need to do) we moved our delivery spot into the local postal facility, i.e. PO Box.
The reason I mention this at all, is to explain why we drive 7 miles one way to receive our Discover Bill. My wife prefers or enjoys taking this drive, but as I said, this particular day, she was down with the flu. I was directed to take certain items in for mailing. Through the fields, through the woods, over the river, and there on the side of the road, was a car, California plates, blonde lady on cell phone, emergency flashers flashing. Must be a foreigner. (Note, anyone not from this side of the county is a foreigner) Drove on into town, dropped off the outgoing mail, check for incoming, box was empty.
As I approached the river, on the return trip, I could see in the distance that same California car, parked in the same place, but the blonde was walking across the bridge, toward her car, toward me. As I approached, I slowed, rolled down the passenger window and asked, “Mam” (all us country boys say mam), “Mam, are you in distress?” “I’m out of gas” she says, “do you have some?” (I’m reflecting, I could say yes, a tank full, but you can’t have any, or do I just say no, I don’t carry a spare gas can!) What I actually said was, “I have some at home, I’m only a mile away, I’ll get it and bring it back.”
I drove home and got the gas can, and all the way back I was thinking, wonder how much this three gallons is worth? Wonder what she’ll offer to pay? Wonder what I should do? I never stopped to consider what might be going through her mind.
She was sitting in her car when I arrived, a big 100 lb. yellow lab in the back. I got the gas can and began pouring the gas into her tank, I said, “You’re not from around here?”, “No” she replied, which opened the flood gates for jabbering, what I learned, true or not was that she missed her destination by 8 to 9 miles. Knowing I only had three gallons of gas, I suggested she go on up the road, turn right head to this little town which had the closet gas station.
My gas can empty, I suggested she make sure the car starts before I leave while I put my can away. I went to the drivers window and said, “Great, the car is running,!” “Yes”, she said, with window half way down, waved, U-turned it and sped off.
We had been studying, “whose is your neighbor” in our men’s bible study. Like re-watching a movie I love, there are certain biblical passages that just require re-studying. I must have been through this passage 20 to 25 times in my life. I don’t think I can learn anything new from it, it’s just good to be reminded where your place is or should be. So, I was thinking, on the way back with the gas, that in my piety, I could “pay it forward” “be the good neighbor”, humble myself before this lady and refuse any remuneration.
As she U-turned it, I felt deflated. I didn’t get a chance to show “how good I was”, how pious I could be. Thanks, wave, U-turn it and gone!
Did I look that dangerous, that suspicious, that frightening? Well, at my age I’m no looker, neither was she. Maybe she didn’t have any money to offer. Maybe, while I was returning, with the gas she was thinking, “how do I get out of this?”
Then again, maybe I got what I deserved. Maybe I wasn’t the neighbor, maybe I was the Pharisee? Thanking the Lord for giving me the opportunity to show my piety, not like all those that passed her by.
She didn’t give me chance to pay it forward. She just Took It Forward, and ran.