Just Getting Worse
She had had a rough week and it took every bit of willpower she had to keep strong and push through it.
As she saw the two men walk closer she knew that she must have looked like an easy target. As they got close one of them said something to her. But she didn’t understand.
Simple Task, Impossible
When Agnes got to the gas station she already felt the fatigue from the long week taking its toll. What should have been something easy was difficult for her.
SIt was a cold October so she put on her jacket as she got out of the car to put gas in it. Then a van stopped right behind her.
She stiffly put the nozzle in her gas tank and squeezed the lever. She knew she’d get better fuel efficiency in the cold weather.
Just as the petrol got to $5 she saw a couple laughing and walking past her. She cursed under her breathe as the distraction meant she poured in more than she wanted to.
The price of the gas she had just put in was more than she could afford. She couldn’t believe she made such a stupid mistake.
She was normally a strong woman but after the week she’d had she had to stop herself from crying right there at the gas station. She would have to check her bag, maybe she had some extra change inside. Then she saw them coming her way.
A man in a hoodie got out of the white van that was still behind her. He kept looking at her when he thought she wasn’t paying any attention but she noticed him.
To make her anxiety rise even more there was a second man in the driver’s seat of the van looking at her too. She had no idea that she’d experience something humiliating inside that van.
Pay In Pennies
The register beeped with her gas total. The people behind her sighed as Agnes pulled out a bag of pennies and started grouping them on the counter.
The rest came from rummaging around in her purse. The week had already been the worst of her life, but what they whispered made it so much harder.
Agnes’ cheeks went red and she held back the desire to bawl as she heard, “You’ve got to be joking!” and “Seriously?!”
At least the cashier waited patiently. After taking a few coins from the “leave a penny” tray, the charge was covered. She spun around, ready to leave as fast as she could. Right in front of her were the same two men – still staring.
Run For It
Her wobbly legs wouldn’t move fast enough. The exit felt so far away.
Their obvious whispers were probably like the rest of the customers – harsh and impatient. All she wanted to do was get back home and crawl under the covers. It felt like her heart was going to beat out of her chest. The men stepped out of the store.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, the one with the camera was pointing it right at her.
They walk directly towards her. Agnes fumbled for her keys and tried to pick up the pace. But they were younger, faster, and the distance between them was closing.
Bad Things Coming
There was no question in her mind. Something bad was about to happen. After all, bad luck and horrible moments were the staple of her recent days.
Part of her wanted to just give up and let whatever was about to happen … just happen. The one in the hoodie caught up 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.