Last night I drove out to gas up the Camry before Sandy and I headed out to Christmas shop at Target. I was just starting to fill my tank when two young children walked up to me. They were in coats but appeared to be cold, and asked me if I could help their dad get some gas so they could get home.
In this instant, I remembered being solicited for money in the Wal-Mart parking lot by a man ostensibly on his way up from Hurricane Katrina. Not only did he not sound in any way Cajun, but he was a few months late. I told that guy I didn't have any money (I didn't) but I wished him well.
But last night I relented and said, "Sure, have your Dad pull the car over." So they ran back to the car and the guy pulled up opposite the pump. When I was done I walked over with the nozzle and put in his car. I asked him where he was headed. I can't remember the name he said--maybe Oakdale--but I asked him where it was and he said near Stillwater and Woodbury. I let the pump run for a little while, and then stopped it. There was no way that I had put more than 2 gallons of gas into the car. He said thank you, and I said no problem. I put the nozzle back into the pump, waited for my receipt to print, got into my car, and drove home.
I have a few thoughts about what happened. . .
- the person did not seem to be very trustworthy, because he looked to be around 20-25 and the kids were at least 10.
- if it would have been a grandmother I would have filled it up and bought her a cup of coffee for the trip.
- the fact that the kids were sent to ask me was bothersome. I would never ask Annika to walk though a gas station parking lot begging people for gas. I would just ask Owen and Alex to push the car home.
- if I needed to drive for over an hour and a half to get home and someone put less than 2 gallons of gas in my car, I would politely ask for more and offer to send a check later.
- it is actually
legalpossible to fill up a car with gas and not pay, but pay later. You just have to pay a small fine. I would do this. I actually called a local Kwik Trip and they said:
- the owner of the car must pay for the price of the gas plus a service charge of not more than $30.
- if the fuel is not paid for within 30 days the owner of the car can face a fine of $100.
- I got the license plate of the car...RPU-836.