Thursday, May 08, 2008

End of Semester & Out of Gas


True story: yesterday was my last working day of the semester (thus the recent lack of posting), and I needed to make the 30-mile trip to campus to drop off portfolios. Here's how it goes down. I wait on the kids (4:00) and have to make it to the English office before it closes at 5:00. Pick up the kids, drop off a due-today permission form, on the road with at 4:15. It's a 35-minute trip, all highway. The problem? That little light that says the car's low on gas and no time to fill up. The gauge shows I can go 50 miles. 50 minus 30 equals 20. Easy peasy. I'll simply fill up for the return trip.

So, we toddle off, listening to tunes, and make it to campus with ten minutes to spare. Drop off the portfolios, chat with Derek in the office (he knows everything), and head back to the car all before 5:00. Gas gauge says 19 miles before we go kaput. Make it to the station, pull in and look for my debit card. Except, um, no wallet. NO WALLET.

I've got the purse, so it should follow that the wallet's included, right? Not so, gentle readers, as I've left it on the dining table in another purse. (All this for strategic accessorizing.) No wallet! As in, no cash, no credit, no nothing. And I'm stuck thirty minutes from home with two kids and a useless, albeit adorable, purse. We start scrounging, and between the quarters I'd brought to feed the parking meter and my son's leftover lunch money we have a grand total of $5.30. Has anyone checked recently how much gas you can buy for five bucks? Exactly.

Shamefaced, I step into the Quick Deli Gas Station with my little pile of change, feeling like a sixteen-year old. Although, back when you could actually drive for a week on pocket change. Here's the magical thing, and why I love people:

Britta: "I feel like an idiot, but I forgot my wallet. If I have my husband call with a credit card, can I buy gas that way?"

Guy Behind the Counter, who has seen plenty of people without wallets and phony credit card call-ins: "No."

Britta: "Okay. I understand. This'll be fine. Here, I've got..." (change rattling) "five dollars and thirty cents."

GBTC, looking suspicious: "Where are you going?"

Britta, with forced bravery: "Fort Worth. I'm fine. I get good gas mileage."

GBTC, considering the little pile of lint-covered money on his immaculate counter: "I don't think so. Is not enough. Are you with the university? I will give you extra dollars, you can pay me back next time you come."

Britta, feeling ridiculous but secretly pleased he observes her scholarly qualities: "No, really. I couldn't. It's my last day of the semester and it could be fall before..."

GBTC, taking charge of the situation, sweeps the money into his register and wipes his hands on a nearby cloth: "It is okay. I will give you extra dollars."

Britta, dumbfounded (which isn't unusual): "Really? Wow, that's so nice. Thank you." Runs out before he changes his mind. Pauses at the door. "What's your name?"

GBTC, who clearly wants the crazy lady to leave his store: "Enosh."

Britta: "Thanks, Enosh."

Enosh nods, hopes she will really leave this time, and turns to his next customer.

I pumped the gas (nervous I'd go over the limit and abuse his generosity) and hopped inside the car. Gas gauge: 70 miles to go, baby!

Enosh, you are a hero. You not only made my day, but you taught my kids something about the kindness of strangers. Which is a much better lesson than my mother is a dingbat who ran out of gas and forgot her wallet in another city.

We made it home safe and sound, and I plan on sending Enosh a little thank you in the mail, with some extra dollars to pass on to the next embarrassed person with a pocket full of change.

So that's my story. After papers and portfolios and that last trip to UNT, I'm wrapped up for the semester. WOOHOO! Look for a new My Town Monday post next week where I'll recap my visit with the Northeast Texas Writers, and an all-new Two by Two post on Thursday. Don't forget, it's not too late to enter my contest to win a box of signed books by Texas authors. See the On Generosity post for details.

As for me, I'm going to revel in having nothing due except my own creative writing, which after all the other work, is something of a pleasure.


Blogger Charles Gramlich said...

I'm with you on the end of the semester. Going to post about it today on my blog. That was very nice of Enosh. Nice to hear about people doing kind things.

Not long ago a guy came up to me at a gas station and had forgotten his wallet and I gave him five dollars. Since he only had about 10 miles to go that would do him. I liked being able to help, though.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Kern said...

I am thankful that Enosh saved the day.

Britta, I am going to hide a $10 bill inside your car. If you are ever in trouble again, you will find it while scrounging for quarters.

I ran out of gas one time. I was 16 and it happened in the intersection of Carroll and University in Denton. The temperature was well into triple digits. I pushed the '74 F-100 down Carroll and into the Kroger parking lot. Where was Enosh?? I haven't run out since.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Charles, I'll check out your blog and we can commiserate.

Oooh, hidden money! Yes, please!

The only time I remember completely running out of gas was in college. Dead stop, side of the road, gasping fumes. I walked to a nearby house and it turned out a professor owned it and was hosting a party for the corduroy-wearing set. They all felt quite sorry for me (must have been the merlot) and helped me on my way.

9:28 AM  
Blogger The Anti-Wife said...

I'm too paranoid to run out of gas. Have come close a couple of times, but never completely there. Thank heaven for people like Enosh.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Josephine Damian said...

Well, at least you were not driving a Hummer. lol

Something tells me people buying tiny amounts of gas with pocket change will become the norm.

School's over for me, too. Now I get to start writing my master's thesis. No rest for the weary (middle aged) grad student.

5:43 AM  
Blogger Billy said...

What a day you had! Gotta love the gas station guy. When I have company from northern latitudes, they are amazed at how friendly and informal we are in the south. People actually strike up conversations. As we say in Louisiana, you got "lagniappe" with the gas, a little extra (but I'm sure you know the term). And congrats on your free time. I taught college and high school English for 20 years, and the end of a semester was always heaven. Enjoy!

8:05 AM  
Blogger Travis Erwin said...

I have ran out of gas of a few times and given my gambling natuire will probably do so again, but glad you made it home thansk to Enosh's kindness.

Are you going to review a book set in Ft Worth for this week's MTM?

6:57 AM  
Blogger "Bluebonnet in the snow" said...

I am so glad to know that kindness still prevails in these here parts! Enjoy your creative side while you have a break from school! Maybe some more knitting projects before it gets too hot?

7:02 AM  
Blogger Travis Erwin said...

Happy Mother's Day to you.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Lana Gramlich said...

Wow...It IS nice to hear stories like that. They seem so rare these days!
Sorry I've been AWOL, but I've been busy with my Canadian visitor. Things will return to normal later this week.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Mathilda said...

The Tuesday after I defended my thesis, a professor had a launching party for his "Poetry Everywhere" project. Afterwards, we went out for dinner, and I *completely* shut down from all of the stress of the past semester. One of my lovely professors let me stay at her house, so I wouldn't have to drive home.

Yeah. I love people. And generosity.

7:05 AM  
Blogger Bookfraud said...

what a great story. enosh sounds like a character from a story. in fact, i'm going to steal enosh for my own fiction, if i ever get around to writing any again.

i dread the day i must buy a car, which is coming soon.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Anti-wife: proof positive that a little paranoia can be a good thing.

Josephine, I'm working on my thesis, too. (I'd high five you, but as a more mature grad student myself, perhaps a more reserved commiseration is in order.)

Thanks, Billy. I'll have to add lagniappe to my vernacular. Although because I'm from Texas it'll come out "Laney-appie." Surely that's not right.

Travis, I had every intention of posting a review, but school sorta squashed that ambition. Can I be tardy and try next week? Thanks for the Mother's Day wishes...I had a great day with family. And lots of ham. You'd be proud.

Bluebonnet, how did you know I'd bust out with the knitting? I'm working on a sweater that's driving me CRAZY! Stupid sleeves.

Lana, we've had our share of visitors this month, too. None from such an exotic place like Canada, though.

Mathilda, does shutting down include sleeping eleven hours at night? Because if so, consider me Shut. Down.

Bookfraud, I'm a little jealous you haven't bought a car. I've considered bicycling, but since my main commute is 30 miles I figure by the time I made it to class I'd have that not-so-fresh feeling.

3:13 PM  

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