It was just another day in the 'burbs..... and I was just another bigot. Funny thing, I didn't even know it.
It was late in the afternoon, a few years back. I stopped to pump gas on the corner of a somewhat "risky" spot. It's not a very nice corridor--- a couple miles from motels rentable by week- day or hour, if you know what I mean.......but, I needed gas, and my next turn would take me onto the freeway. Stranded without gas would be worse than stopping at a gas station- for sure.
I stood outside my car, gas pumping slow as molasses in January. ( Why does it pump so slow until the end, then suddenly jump up by .50 when you're not trying to go over $10.00?) Anyways- my eyes were wide open, watching out for carjackers....a momma bear protecting my lil guy- who was asleep in the car.
Then- out of the corner of my eye- it happened. I saw a large, dark shadow approaching. A BIG man. Rough looking- and well...dirty. And, walking straight towards me.
"He's going in to pay for his gas... he's going in to pay for his gas....."
I told myself as my nerves tightened like strings on a toy ukele. He didn't head towards the door. Instead, He made a bee-line, straight for me.
My brain changed gears......"Carjackers never just walk up to you...can't be that...Oh, GREAT... I'm about to be hit on my a dirty guy at the gas station....GRAND. Look Married. Look married...." I told myself. (I don't get hit on often...--- but to my teenage son's chagrin--- it DOES occasionally happen- to which they reply "Gross")
The guy smiled. Eye contact. ( "Oh, Crap"
I thought. Making eye contact, breaks the first rule of pretending not to see people- so they go away.)
"Hey...... here- I use these all the time.... keep them in your car, so you don't get gas all over yourself."
He handed me a new pair of rubber coated palm "garbage man gloves". He had the kindest non- perv... non- carjacker look on his face. A big-brotherly look. I mumbled some kind of "no---but thanks" Still not sure if he was friend or foe. He said "I get them for free--- comes with the job- I make sure my wife has 'em in her car too... she hates to get gas on her nails...."
His wife. Men rarely talk to you about their wife when they hit on you. Must be something else- up with this guy.....but I couldn't figure it out. Maybe he was just a nice guy????
Not sure what to say.....I said:
"Me too." I said--- "thnx so much!" I took the gloves... surprised at this turn of events.
He smiled. Then, just walked back to his truck... a garbage truck. (accounts for the dirt- that's for sure.)
I finished pumping my gas, (hands now perectly covered) and neatly tucked the garbage man glove in my car doors' storage pocket.
I started my truck (nothing says suburbanista like a mini SUV) and started to drive away.
That's when it hit me. What a bigot. Sure--- I could justify my concerns.... I know there are dangerous places and people who do bad things....but it made me sad. Let's face it--- a big dirty guy walked up--- and I could come up with only 2 options:
1) He was a car jacker.
2) He was gonna hit on me.
Wrong on both counts. He was a garbage man- and a gentleman.
Dear Lord- there are so many ways that I judge others- on appearance- experience , my own paranoia.... God- please help me to see people through your eyes- and help me to never forget the lesson of the garbage man and his glove....I love you Lord- and ask you to change my heart. Amen.