God Bless You, My Friend
While driving to Sacramento recently, my truck started acting up.[i]the same 2013 Ram I jumped from a few years ago I was almost to Tracy when I noticed it was not shifting into overdrive, as it should. I stopped at a gas station and opened up the hood, as if there was actually something I could do to fix it, knowing full well that it was most likely a computer issue, which I had no ability to deal with. As I was pulling into the station, I had noticed a big black, 20-something-year-old Lincoln sitting off to the side with nobody behind the wheel.
When I started pumping gas, a man approached me and asked if I would give him enough gas to get to Fresno. I suppose I looked surprised or worried and he said very quietly, “God bless you, I mean you no harm”. He was a black man – probably in his late 50s or early 60s, with a well-groomed short, white beard. He had no dreadlocks, no shabby clothes, and no nose ring – none of the classic earmarks of today’s typical homeless street urchin. My instinct said he was most likely just a guy down on his luck.
He said he had a gas can in his car and pointed to the Lincoln. I said, “Sure bring it over”. He came back with two containers that looked a bit like those clear plastic gallon-size milk jugs, except they were two gallons each, with no caps. I handed him the pump and he filled each, all the time saying, “Thank you; God bless you”. When he finished, I said, “Now I would like for you to do me a favor”, and I explained about my truck not shifting correctly. He knew right where the transmission fluid dipstick was and after checking it, went next to the engine oil dipstick. I went inside to buy some oil and he retrieved a couple of paper oil funnels from the Lincoln, along with a plastic funnel with a long spout, which he explained was necessary for the transmission filler hole. He said I could have the paper ones but he needed to keep the plastic one for his car – apparently, his old Lincoln had a similar problem.
As he extended his hand to thank me again, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a $100 bill, which I gave him, saying “Buy yourself a six-pack on your way home to Fresno”. He was speechless at first and stuttered a bit as he said something about me recognizing how hungry he was. He said “God bless you” a few more times, as I drove away.
Exiting the gas station, I had to take a side street in order to get back to the freeway. As I waited for the traffic light, I saw him running up the middle of the street behind me, so I waited. I rolled down the window and he once again said, “God bless you”, and gave me the plastic funnel that he needed for his own car. He explained that he could buy another one with the money I had just given him, and I said “God bless you, my friend.”