Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My A-Typical Coffee Break

On Friday I went out for some fancy coffee at a local coffee shop, and on my way home, stopped to get gas and a car wash, in a less-nice part of town. While I was pumping gas, a girl who looked to be about my age but much more worn down by life came over and asked if I had 50 cents to give her so she could make a phone call. Truthfully, I told her I didn’t have any change. She paused, and then asked, “Well do you have a cell phone I can borrow to make a quick phone call?”

Well, yes. I do. And it’s pink and has a ton of minutes. So not being totally heartless, I let her borrow it while I finished pumping and got my receipt.

“It went to voicemail,” she said, handing it back to me sadly. “Thank you.” She sounded like she was about to cry. I felt bad, but what else could I do? So she walked off, and I drove over to the car wash. Just as I was pulling in, the phone rang from the number that had just been dialed. I answered, hoping I wouldn’t lose reception as the suds started.

“Hello, who’s this?” said the person on the other end.

“This is Cat. But I think the person you’re calling for is someone I just met in the parking lot. I don’t know who she is, she just asked to borrow my phone to make a call.”

“Oh! Thanks. Um, what did she look like?” asked the guy.

“Well, she was wearing a hat, and a light brown coat…” I started.

“Was she kind of… dirty?” he asked, filling in for me.

“Er, yes.”

“Did she have thick glasses?”


“Oh, thank you,” said the person. I was guessing it was maybe a social worker, or someone, so I told him where I was, he thanked me again, and we hung up.

As I pulled out of the car wash in my shiny, new, clean car, sipping my froo-froo coffee drink, I saw the girl, still standing on the corner of the parking lot, looking kind of unsure about where to go. So I drove over and flagged her down, and said, “Hey, the guy you called just called back. Do you want to try again?”

“Thank you!” she said profusely, and grabbed the cell phone.

I felt like maybe I had redeemed a little bit of yuppie karmic guilt, and sipped my coffee drink while she chatted. She didn’t go far, but was making an effort to be quiet, along the busy street, which I thought was a little odd.

Then I heard her say something about, “Well, just get a nickel.” And then, “don’t worry about it, I’ll set it up…. I’ll get them and meet you at X location at 4:30.”

And I thought to myself, I don’t suppose counseling comes in nickel bags these days.

So much for the karmic points.


Diane said...

Better to err on the side of helping. I still feel guilty that when some guy who was walking past my house asked for a glass of water and I pointed out that there were drinking fountains about 50 yards away.

My thoughts? What if that was the second coming of Jesus, and I just failed the help your fellow man test?

So, you did the right thing.

Princess of the Universe said...

I agree, it's better for the soul to think the best of people rather than assume the worst. :)

rebekah @ elizabeth anne designs said...

I do this too. But yes, it's so much more fulfilling to think the best.

Angela said...

Wow. Does this mean that you've got street cred now? At least you had the best of intentions!!

John In Colorado said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda said...

Uh ohhh... lol

Erin said...

Oops! Well, at least you tried to be a helpful person! :)

Ramblin' Red said...

Hey, uh, isn't medicinal use legal in parts of CO? B/c I would totally be rationalizing with karma on that point ;)

meno said...

Oh wow. I suppose it's good that your assumptions didn't leap to drug deal. That says something about you.

Yoga Gal said...

Honey, you got the karma points for having a heart, that cow also got bad karma points for using you! You did the right thing!

Lily said...

I guess I am totally naive because I don't have the slightest idea what "nickels" and bags made of them are....alright, I got that it has to do with drugs, because you guys said so....but if that happened to me, it would have gone way over my head...;)
I feel like I want a fancy coffee though...
Is it still snowing where you are? We're supposed to get 20 cm again today, damnit!

Princess in Galoshes said...

Diane- Ha, thanks. But how weird someone would ask you for water in front of a water fountain...!

Princess of the U- I agree, but it can still catch you off-guard!

Rebekah- I love your blog. It's so pretty.

Angela- Ha. I lost any shred of street cred I ever had sometime between the time I started turning up my nose at beer and the time I started going to bed at 9:00.

John- Definitely more exciting than I had expected. Thanks for stopping by.

Amanda- I know. D'oh!

Erin- Thanks.

Ramblin'- I'm not even sure it was MJ she was talking about... but sure, let's go with that.

Meno- That I'm painfully naiive?

Yoga- Thanks, you always make me feel better.

Lily- No snow! (That was Sunday.) Today it's actually sunny and, like, 40 degrees. I may even *gulp* go for a jog.

Victoria said...