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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dear Girl At The Gas Station: I've Been Where You Are

I saw you there, sitting in your car.

I saw the defeated slump of your shoulders, the way your hand came up to cover your face. I'd just pulled up behind you at the other pump but even through a back window I could see the signs of someone who's at the end of their rope.

I watched you war with yourself for a few minutes, glancing around at the other cars. You got out, pausing one last time to look through your purse, even checking the floor of the car in the back before you stood up again, looking around and pushing your hair off your forehead with an exasperated hand.

Then your eyes landed on me. I tried to look like I wasn't staring, but you caught me. I smiled, and in that moment, I knew you were going to lose that battle with yourself. You had it anyway, pausing for another moment or two before you squared your shoulders, and walked over.

I know what it cost you, to ask me for help. I could see it in your eyes. You only needed to get to the next town before the sitter dropped your kid off. You thought you had more money on that credit card, but you didn't. And you didn't have any cash to put gas in your car.

Your jaw was quivering, and you only asked for any spare change I might have lying around. Not much, you said. I don't need much.

I glanced into my car, and right there, on the seat, was something very important to me. Something that arrived in the mail and made a huge difference in my life. Something that very, very recently really turned things around for me. I worked like hell to make it happen, but it sure as hell didn't happen fast.

So I gave you what you needed. I bought you a tank of gas, and when you started to cry and thank me, I shook my head and gave you what you really needed. I told you that things weren't always going to be this rough. That you had to believe that, because sometimes, believing that is the only thing that gets you through. I know. Oh honey, I know.

We hugged and you drove off, and we were both better people that day for having found each other.

Count your blessings, my mother used to say. I have many, and you, unknowingly, were one. I hope it gets easier for you. 

And I hope when it does, you meet someone who needs to hear that it did.



  1. I've been reading for years now - followed you here from Women's Day. This made me cry. At my desk, darnit! You inspire me to be a better person.