I was getting gas in my car before taking a short trip recently and a man came to my window and said he would pump the gas for me. Remember when we took that for granted? Instead, I was wary. What did he want? A tip? My credit card? Against my better judgment, I let him do it and yes, I even let him swipe my card for the total. He filled the tank, washed my windows, and checked the air in my tires. I was chastizing myself for being too wary and gave him a dollar tip. Then, I drove away without noticing my gas gauge.
A few miles later, I looked down and saw that the gauge was reading empty! How could that happen? I saw him pump the gas. It had to be some type of scam! I was sure that he managed to get the $35 for something other than my gasoline. So, I drove back to the station, turned off the car, and went in to speak to the cashier. The man in question was nowhere around, but she said that he often came by to "help out" and she didn't think he was doing anything but being nice. So, I went back to the car to show her (I even had the receipt) and turned the key. The gas needle popped all the way up to full. My only possible explanation is that he had probably over-filled it, creating some kind of vacuum that made the needle misbehave. I was pretty embarrassed. The man really was just doing a random act of kindness. And here I was, immediately jumping to the conclusion that the act of kindness was a scam. How different our world is these days than it was only a few decades ago! Remember when we let folks fill our gas tanks, wash our windows, and fill our tires as a matter of course? And, if we had a flat tire on the road, we hoped someone would pull over to help us, and were quite grateful when they did!
I remember taking a cross-country trip with my daughter (she was about 11) back around 1980. My little VW bug broke down often. People were helping us all along the way...in fact, once, somewhere deep in Iowa, I heard a nasty noise and knew we were going to break down if I didn't do something. I drove into a small mechanics shop in an even smaller town. The mechanic was friendly, but didn't have the part he needed to fix the bug. Instead, to get the part, he drove me about 100 miles to the last large town we had passed through. While we made the trip, I LEFT MY DAUGHTER WITH HIS FAMILY! Connie didn't want to come with us and I agreed to leave her behind. Naturally, it all worked out fine. When the mechanic and I returned, Connie and I joined the family for dinner and stayed the night in a motel. The next morning, we got the car and hit the road again.
I wonder if that type of trust and consideration still exists somewhere. I sure hope so. I miss it.