Pensacola, Florida—a long line of vehicles at a gas station. I am waiting behind a woman and her daughter. She holds a baby in her arm.
The gas pump is not accepting her card. She keeps trying. No luck.
There’s a man in a car behind her. A very nice, German car that costs more than a new liver.
He shouts at her. He honks. “C’mon!”
The world has gone crazy. It’s mass hysteria. Hurricane Irma is coming, and some people are losing their cotton-picking minds.
The woman hands her baby to her daughter—who looks like a fifth-grader.
The woman walks inside to see the cashier. She is gone a few moments before returning with her face in her hands. She looks like she’s about to cry.
“My wallet!” she shouts to her daughter. “I don’t have it!”
Without skipping a beat, the young girl reaches into her jean pocket, and hands her mother a handful of dollars.
The lady’s dam breaks. If tears were nickels, she’d be a millionaire.
The girl gives the money to her mother with a brave face. And I can’t see how much she gives, but it’s a wad.
More honking from Mercedes-Man. He slams his hands on his wheel.
The woman fills her car with gas. The daughter rocks the baby in her arms.
When the woman finishes, they crawl into a dilapidated Ford and drive away. Their car makes a grinding noise, like it needs a new axle. And I’m fairly certain she’s leaking oil.
Mercedes pulls in behind. He whips forward and jams his brakes. He leaps out, slams his door, and tries the pump. But something’s wrong.
He cusses, then marches inside.
He returns, accompanied by the attendant. The clerk places a yellow baggy over his gas-pump handle.
Out of service.
Cars are honking at Mister Mercedes. The man pulls into the next pump, behind a van. He waits.
When it’s his turn to pump. Nothing again. Another out-of-service baggy. In a few minutes, there are yellow baggies on all the pump handles, and it’s game over.
The man is a mess. He pulls into a parking spot and now he’s the one who looks like he’s going to cry.
A white truck pulls behind him—lawnmowers on the back. Two gray-headed men jump out. They are lean, covered in tattoos, and grass clippings.
They approach the man.
I overhear the man say he’s out of gas.
One of the tattooed men opens the truck and muscles a red, five-gallon gas can out. He unscrews the Mercedes gas cap, and empties the jug. He retrieves another red tank. He empties it, too. Ten gallons.
The man offers to pay them. They decline. Instead, they shake the man’s hand and give him a “God bless you, sir.”
Listen, I don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming days. They say Hurricane Irma is bigger than the entire width of Alabama and Florida. Maybe it is. But wherever you are today, God bless you.
And most of all…
God, bless that girl little and her mother.