Sunday afternoon, a youth league basketball coach and his team play an away game in Pleasanton, CA. After the game, they grab some lunch at the In-n-Out Burger, then head home. The van with the team takes off, and the coach drives his beat-up old sedan to the gas station before the long trip home.
That’s when the coach realizes his wallet and cell phone are in his briefcase, which he left in the van. He has no gas, no money, no identification, and no phone. He’s also African-American, which he knows is going to make this next part especially challenging.
He walks around the pump and encounters a middle-aged white guy in workout clothes, gassing his BMW. The coach launches into his story about the basketball team, the hamburgers for lunch, the van, the briefcase, and he’s sure he’s not selling it.
“What do you need?” asked the guy with the BMW, judging the story to be legitimate.
“I don’t need any money,” explained the coach, defensively. “I just need some gas. Maybe I could just pump some from your pump after you finish?”
The BMW guy reached for his wallet and said, “How far are you going?” Again, the coach insisted he didn’t want money, just gas. He knew it would sound too suspicious to ask for cash. He had trouble believing he closed the sale with such a lame story, and he didn’t want to be thought of as a scammer.
The BMW guy handed him a twenty and said, “Is that enough?” The coach tried one more time to explain he wasn’t asking for money. The BMW guy just smiled and shrugged. The coach thanked him enthusiastically.
Was this an unlucky day for the coach, because he forgot his wallet? Or was it a lucky day because he found help so easily and it restored just a little bit of his faith in humanity?
I can answer that question, because I was the guy with the BMW. And it wasn’t until this morning that I realized he said he was heading to Monterey. If I had done the math, I would have realized twenty dollars would only get him halfway home. I just figured that out this morning.
So, thanks to my help, he’s probably stranded in Gilroy (the garlic capital of the world) and wondering why that briefcase-in-the-van story only worked once.
And in retrospect, I suppose I should have offered to let him use my cell phone. So I grant you it wasn’t a clean win for humanity. But I felt good about myself for half a day, and that was worth twenty bucks.
For the record, Coach, I would have given you forty bucks. I hope you found your way home from Gilroy.