My summer is winding down. It is apparent because I had a meeting today at school. Being a teacher has its perks. Summer is one of them. (Many would say maybe the only one?)
I know that, for the most part, summer is the realm of kids and that my grown up peers all continue to work just like it was October or February or whatever. Teachers are lucky in that aspect. We get to rejoice in the bliss of summertime, but, like all things, it comes to an end eventually.
But that’s not even what I wanted to talk about.
No, I was on my way to pick up the kids after my meeting and I had to stop for gas. The new Honda gets FANTASTIC gas mileage, but alas I do need to stop and refuel every once in a while. So, I did. I got off the freeway and pulled into a station that I don’t often frequent. It isn’t an “A-List” establishment, but it was smack-dab on my way, so it was convenient and useful. I fumbled with my card and listened as my tummy rumbled a bit. I considered the attached fast-food taco shop, but somewhere in my brain Anthony Bourdain was yelling at me that: a) this was simply not a good place to eat, and b) a taco shop connected to a gas station sounds like a good idea at first, but the rest of the day would be full of regrets, my friend!
I stood and pumped, knowing full well that a free meal awaited me in my own (clean) kitchen back home. I was halfway through when two things happened. First, a man in an old Ford four-door rolled up to the pump opposite me. He leaned, gangster-style, against the door and fumbled with something in his lap. Suddenly he produced a writhing fist full of gold necklaces, much to my relief.
“Wanta buy some gold?” he asked.
“No, thanks, man,” I replied, hoping that my tank would top off in a hurry. Mr. Jewelry pulled away, but remained in the shade of the pumping area, biding his time. I’m certain that he was waiting for that perfect person who would saunter across the parking lot, out for a stroll on a hot Phoenix summer day, just thinking to themselves, “You know what I really need? A nice, gently used, possibly stolen, gold rope!” Yeah, okay. I glanced at the pump. Almost finished. Then the second incident occurred.
“Excuse me?” a voice called from behind. I turned and saw that the voice belonged to a tall-ish, older gentleman. “Can you spare a few bucks, I’m trying to fill up?” I felt pity in my heart. I really did. I am normally a sure thing when it comes to asking for spare change, but today, honestly, I had zero cash in my wallet. Besides, I’m a teacher, I’m barely cuttin’ it as it is, right?!
“I don’t have any cash, sorry,” I told him. He shrugged.
“No need to apologize,” he responded, mumbling a few other words, but I couldn’t quite catch them. I’m sure they were nothing but positive and were meant to shine a golden light on my character. Anyway, I felt a little bad until I saw him return to his own vehicle. And what, you may ask, was he driving? A windows-busted-out-80s-model-tin heap? An old, broken-down, rusted-out pick-up truck with a wired on bumper, you wonder?
Hell no, I say!!
This man, this sidewalk hustler, this smarmy miscreant, was driving a Caddy, as in Cadillac. A sporty model, too. And new! That silvery paint job looked straight outta Beverly Hills, yo! And, AND, he was already filling his car. The pump was on and his tank was filling up WHILE he asked me for money. Really? Come on, Caddy Beggar, at least park that sweet ride down the street while you do your work. I must give off a scent that smells like sucker. It’s the only reason he would think to approach me.
Now, I was wearing my new, dark, prescription sunglasses, (feeling like a Don’t Look Back era Dylan in shorts & flip-flops), so maybe he thought I was blind and I wouldn’t notice. Then again, how does that account for my driving a car and all? I guess we’ll never know, but it sure makes you think about giving your money away, right? People like Mr. I-Need-Money-For-My-Caddy ruin it for the poor souls who actually need a meal or some gas. (Which, let’s be honest, could end up being me!)
Oh, and if you’re the inquisitive sort, I had a lovely salad with tomatoes and bleu cheese dressing when I got home. Then, the kids and I had some homemade chocolate chip cookies!