I have an amusing anecdote from last Friday to share with you all today. Pre-play-on-the-common I was at target attempting to acquire on of those blue tarp things that you place on the ground to prevent your blanket from getting wet. Alas, I was unable to find any there – blast you target: you and the $5 gift card to you that I’ve been carrying around for more than a year now have failed me again.
On the way back to my car I was met with a question from a man in a red Ford Taurus. “Are you leaving?,” he asked. Now, that’s not too uncommon a thing to hear in a Boston area parking lot, but the parking lot of the Target in East Somerville is not as packed as say, the Shaw’s parking lot in Porter Square; there were plenty of empty spots. But I had just walked out of the store and so there weren’t any open near me, near the store’s door. I figured maybe he needed a good spot cause he had to load something heavy. But then, my spot wasn’t such a good spot; I was just walking past the good spots to get to my normal spot.
I responded, “Yes, but there are…” plenty of spots. I mumbled the second half. I continued walking, without looking back. When I arrive at my car and turned I noticed that the man had put the car in reverse and followed me down the row. He was now blocking me in, I suppose, although; that was not a concern I noticed at the time. He asked, “Can you do me a favor?” Still thinking he wanted my spot I replied, “um, what?” It would, of course, have been rather unorthodox to need a favor for a spot as mediocre as mine in face of such an abundance of open spaces, but that’s what I was going with.
He explained, “I’m $7 short on gas money to get back to New Hampshire. My son was supposed to meet me here…” he trialled off. I am not a generous one; I rarely if ever offer handouts to beggars. But this was a good scam, if it was a scam; I felt bad. However, my rules did not betray me, despite having at least $48 in cash in my pocket I responded, “Sorry, I don’t have any cash on me.” With this the man, in his car, drove away.
It did not hit me until the exchange was over, the irony involved. Here was a man, in a car, driving around a parking lot, using gasoline, which he supposedly needed all (and more) of to get back to New Hampshire. I wonder if he included in his seven dollar estimate the cost of the gas he was burning while trying to come up with the money? If he turned his car off and parked it and then begged, could he move from $7 to $6, maybe? After realizing his wasteful ways, I no longer felt bad about lying to the man. I was in the right to deny his request on principle alone.
Sitting here now I wonder how the conversation would have gone had I actually denied him on principle. Would I have asked to see his figures, or espoused that he could make it home on $4 worth of gas if he drove 55 mph instead of 70 mph? It certainly would have taken more time, and I was in a hurry. I still had to go over to Home Depot to pick up a tarp before heading home and on to the show. Let this be a lesson to you all, if you’re short on gas money, don’t be a dumbass!