Make like Spacey (or Haley), and pay it forward.

I paid for a lady’s gas last summer, and then my car broke down.

A tough break…you would think. But it became a blessing.

Moments earlier, my bladder was about to burst. My stomach wanted food. My brain suggested I wait until I got past dangerous south Dallas (my dad’s words of caution running through my mind). My stomach could have waited. But when you got to go, well, you got to go — a little wisdom from me to you.

I stepped out of the gas station 10 minutes later, relieved. But with a glance at my car, the relief plummeted to…”What the heck is that?”

A green liquid gushed from below my car. 

That’s not from my car,” I told myself. “That was there before. Some other poor smuck’s engine did that. I wasn’t inside long enough for my little Saturn named Burt to throw up gallons of green liquid. No, Burt’s classier than that.”

Some Asian man rushed over, pointed to my car and said (I assume), “Um, lady…your car messed up.” But in reality, I don’t have a clue what he said (looking back, I’m sorry I ignored him).

So, I drove my car across the parking lot to fill the tank. I switched off the ignition and prayed not to see the green liquid. I peaked under my car — no green. Relief in sight again.

“Excuse me, I don’t ask this ever, but…” An older lady said from the pump next to me. “I’m trying to get to the next town to see my daughter — she’s having a baby — and I’m short on gas.”

I realize this isn’t the most believable story. And I’ll admit I considered whether she lied. But what I realized is who am I to decide what’s in her heart? If she’s lying, that’s not my issue. It’s between her and God.

She started to explain the story more, but I interrupted.

“How much do you need?” I said. 

“Not much.” 

I went inside and paid for some gas for her pump. As I walked back outside, she wouldn’t stop thanking me.

“God bless you, honey,” she said. “Thank you so much.”

“We just all need to take care of each other,” I said. “Just pay it forward.”

“OK, God bless you.” She got in her car and drove away.

I filled up my tank, and my car didn’t seem to have problems. I pulled around to the nearby drive-thru to get some food. As I pulled up to the window, a man began pointing to my car.

As he walked toward me, I glanced at my hood. Smoke poured out of the right side. I had been focused to my left at the drive-thru. I hadn’t even noticed the smoke. I instantly switched off the engine.

Turned out the green liquid was anti-freeze because my car was in the processing of overheating (Apparently, anti-freeze rushes out by the gallons in a matter of minutes when your car is hot enough).

“Turn it back on, and drive it over there.” The man said, pointing to a nearby parking spot.

I did as he said and hopped out of my car without a clue of what I should do.

“Do you have somebody you could call?” he said.

I told him the truth. I was in Dallas, halfway between home in Oklahoma City and my destination in Houston. I know he could have been crazy. I’m aware. I’ve heard this from several people. Of course, I thought of this when I first met him, but I had no choice but to trust him with intelligent hesitancy. 

I had a feeling. The juxtaposition of these two people seemed like a God thing. God provided me for a lady. He provided this man for me

Yes, I’ve also seen the scary movies. I know about the crazies. So, I proceeded with caution.

But as it turned out the man saved me. Suggesting the problem, he gave me an idea of how to fix it once I was in Houston. He even followed me a few hours until his exited to make sure I felt safe (I, of course, didn’t because he was a stranger and vowed — to myself and my family on the phone — not to pull over unless my car lit fire). He also gave me a tip, “If your car starts to overheat, turn on the heater.” It works…I’ve tried it.

If you believe in angels, God sent me one that day. To me, it was Jesus. I saw him  in both of these people. I saw him in a lady in need of help and a man who gave it.

I paid it forward, and a man did the same for me.

So, make like Kevin Spacey and pay it forward. Imagine the number you could help.


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