Momentary Humanity



As I drove home, I did my best to expunge the workday from my thoughts. So much of my day had been packed with banal, lifeless exchanges. I listened in fascination as Janet Mock talked about her early life in an interview on NPR. On a whim, I quickly turned into the drive of a convenience store.

I entered the convenience store to fulfill one of modern man’s biggest follies: buy lottery tickets. Ahead of me, a young black man was struggling with a pre-loaded card and a card swipe in an attempt to buy gas. I conducted my business with the pleasant cashier and stepped to the left. Another couple of customers finished their purchases and I stepped over to the other side as I pulled out my wallet to stuff the new ticket into its confines.

“I’m so sorry to waste your time. Thank you,” the young man told the clerk. She smiled and said, “No problem. Have a good day.” The look on his face was one I well recognized. He probably didn’t have enough gas to get much of anywhere.

I watched as he peered through the window at his tall friend outside. He was standing between the pumps and a tan Oldsmobile, waiting for the pump to authorize the gas. The man inside the store stopped as I held up my hand and said, “Wait.” Expecting something even more upsetting, his eyes looked up at mine. I handed him the cash from my wallet and said, “Didn’t you say you need some gas?”  He looked at the money, then back at me. “Thanks, sir. Jeez. I don’t know what to say.” Because I’m a master of wit and conversation, I told him, “Have a great afternoon.” He turned back toward the cashier, a smile spreading across his face.

I went outside, got inside my car, and turned on the ignition as a blast of cold air hit my face and the sound of Terry Gross delving back into the life of Janet Mock.

Although I usually don’t stick around to witness the aftermath of my moments, I looked down at my phone until the man inside the store had exited. I then watched him using my mirrors. He excitedly held his hands up and shouted something to his friend at the pumps. While I couldn’t quite discern the words, his glee was apparent.

I drove away, leaving the man’s story behind me.

In return, my heart was lighter, my day forgotten.




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