It was 11:45 tonight, a Sunday, and the roads were pretty deserted. Me, being the procrastinator that I am, was on my last bit of gas and HAD to stop to make it home. I pulled into the nearest gas station and it was closed, but not a big deal as I had my debit card. I scanned the station and saw you pumping gas and immediately felt better as there was someone else with me at the empty and dimly lit station.
I got out, glanced around, being aware of my surroundings as my always paranoid mother taught me. We made eye contact and you gave me a comforting smile. I was typing in my pin number and noticed you closing your gas cap and getting into your vehicle. I didn’t want you to leave. You were a stranger, you could have been a serial killer, but your smile and your eyes put me at ease. I felt safer with you around.
You pulled away and went around the gas station and the minute you were out of sight, I was on alert. I kept checking my surroundings, wishing I hadn’t picked the seemingly slowest pump at this station.
He came put of no where– I was alone and then I wasn’t. He wore camo pants and an oversized black hoodie, the hood up and shielding a lot of his face. I gripped my keys tightly in my hand, trying to get them between my fingers just in case. He asked for a ride, calling me “sugar titties” and winking. I quickly said, “sorry, I have somewhere to be” and wished I had sounded more confident as the words left my mouth. He persisted, yanking on the door handle of my passenger back door. I said “no!” again, this time, more forcefully. He kept laughing, like this was the most hilarious game in the world and tried my passenger door.
I froze. I’m not proud of myself. I should have jumped into the car and drove off. I should have had my cell phone in my hand instead of my car. I should have gotten gas that morning instead of the last minute. In everyday life, I’m typically a force to be reckoned with and strong and painfully independent. Why did I freeze? Why didn’t I jump into action? Why did I act like a sitting duck instead of a ferocious lion?
And then you came. You rolled up next to us in that boxy Element car that I used to complain about to anyone who would listen and you just rolled down your window, your phone in one hand, illuminating your face in the darkness.
“I have 911 on the line. Take your chances or keep walking.”
He immediately put his hands up, shaking his head. A slew of curse words were said, including crazy b**ch and he backed away. My eyes left him and moved to you. You simply nodded and drove away, not actually pulling out onto the street until you saw that I was safely in my car.
To the lady at the gas station,
Thank you. Thank you for being kind, for being strong, and for caring about a complete stranger that needed help. I can only hope that if I’m ever in such a situation again, I have the same strength and confidence you have. The world could use more people like you.