From Bad To Worse
She felt exhausted after a long string of bad days.
It was when she watched the two men approaching and noticed that she was the obvious target, that the last tiny bit of her willpower disappeared into thin air. She wanted it to be over with. As the men got closer, one started to speak, and what he said made absolutely no sense to her.
Agnes felt anxious the second she pulled into the gas station. It was supposed to be simple but but it felt nearly impossible.
She stepped out of the door and hugged her jacket close to her body. There was a cold, October breeze in the air. She was so focus on the pump that she hadn’t noticed the white van as it pulled up right next to her.
Her cold hand lightly squeezed at the lever. She knew that keeping the heat off gave better gas mileage.
When it got close to the $5 mark, she eased up. She noticed the happily in love couple that were walking hand-in-hand down the sidewalk, and the distraction made her heart sink. She had no idea that this distraction would also cost her extra.
Agnes’ face filled with panic when she noticed that the digits had gone past her budget.
She leaned back against her car and covered his face with her hands as she closed her eyes. She was trying her best not to cry. This was not the time to have a breakdown. But when she heard the faint sound of coins clinking together at the bottom of her purse, she regained some hope. She came back down to earth, and only then did she notice them.
She now noticed the white van right next to her, she also noticed that a man in a dark purple hoodie kept glancing at her.
The man next to him was glancing right over the top of his phone that was pointed in her direction. She watched them closely as she went to pay. They were definitely watching her. To make matters even more uncomfortable, a humiliating experience was awaiting her just inside the store.
The people behind the counter sighed hopelessly when Agnes removed the bag of pennies to pay for her gas. She instantly started grouping them on the counter.
She got more coins as she rummaged through her purse. This was the worst week of her entire life, but what they were whispering was making it much worse.
Agnes resisted the urge to break down crying when she heard them whisper, “You’ve got to be joking!” and “Seriously?!”
She was grateful that the cashier was a bit more patient than everyone else. After taking a few coins from the “leave a penny” tray, she gas was paid for. She turned around and prepared to leave. Just before her were the same two men from earlier, they were still staring at her.
Leaving The Store
She tried to leave as quick as possible but it felt like she could hardly move.
She imagined that their whispers were as harsh as everyone else in the store’s. She just wanted to get home and sleep it off. The men stepped out of the store too.
And as if things couldn’t get any worse for her, the one man was pointing his camera right at her.
They followed her closely. Agnes desperately tried to get her keys as she walked faster. But they were moving faster than her and catching up to her quickly.
She had no doubt that something bad was about to happen. She had grown used to her days going horribly wrong.
She felt the urge to give up and let whatever happens happen. The man in the hoodie caught up to her and looked right at her.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” he said, with a small smile. “Would you come with us?” She stared back in confusion.
“Don’t worry,” he added with a light chuckle. “Nothing bad.” The event now turned to a hazy string of moments she didn’t quite understand. Still, she found herself going towards their vehicle.
He jumped into the van, rummaged around in a bag, and then jumped back out. In his hand were green and white slips of paper.
The stack of twenties fluttered in the cold wind as he stepped in close and gave her a sympathetic look. He reached out.
“They’re for you,” he said. That was it. The frail wall that was holding back the bulk of her emotions, cracked and crumbled away.
The rest of the tears flowed out without mercy. Her body wouldn’t move. Her hands wouldn’t take the gift. “It’s not illegal. We’re comedians,” he added. “You don’t understand,” she said.
She lowered her head and sobbed. “My husband just died a week ago. We weren’t like this before. I didn’t ask nobody for nothing. I didn’t even ask you.”
The revelation clearly affected the men. Tears formed in their eyes and one reached out to hug her. But there was more to come.
Empathy And Experience
The man, Carlos Davis, was a comedian who had also known hard times. But, through a huge stroke of luck, and plenty of talent, he was discovered by a famous rapper who asked him to open for him on tour.
Carlos had not only noticed Agnes’ depressed state, but he remembered what it was like to struggle. He also knew one more important thing.
Not everyone found the breaks in life that made things easier.
People with success or fortune should try to help others. In his case, it was with laughter. But today it was with tears and a small gesture of money. She broke down further as he added another heartfelt sentiment.
How Did You Know?
“We got love for you. That’s for you,” said Carlos as he handed her the gift. She felt his warm hands over her icy ones.
“How did you guys…?” It was impossible to form the flood of emotions into coherent words. The men might not have known her tragedy, but he explained what they had seen.
“He told me you were paying for your gas with pennies, so I had to show love,” explained Carlos. “It’s only right, we gotta take care of each other.”.
She stared at the money, feeling the corner of her mouth turn up in the first, weak, smile she had had in days. It wasn’t just the death of her husband that had destroyed her world.
The funeral expenses had drained what little money she had left.
Everyone wanted her to save money and take the most cost-efficient option to put her husband to rest. But she just couldn’t do that to the love of her life. That’s why she had to pay for gas with pennies. “How do I thank you or repay you?” she asked.
Just Pay It Forward
“You don’t have to, just pay it forward,” said Carlos’ friend. “That’s for you, ma’am,” added Carlos.
She had been close to losing her faith in everything, but this one moment … restored it all. It was a tiny light in her miserable darkness. She held it tight as they said goodbye and parted ways.