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The Detroit Gas Fairy Coughs Up a Fin

By Rebecca Carter

On my way to work at my new job, I realized I was very low on gas. Normally, I would’ve had enough to make it in. But this particular morning I was going to a distant suburb of Detroit for a special training session — probably an hour-and-a-half from my house — and the needle was moving dangerously close to empty. I still had another half hour to go. I wasn’t going to have enough fuel to make it all the way.

At this point I was in unfamiliar territory, in Detroit proper (I’m not from Michigan). Stopping at the next exit, I pulled into the only gas station in sight, and fished in my backpack for my wallet. Panic rose into my chest as I realized I didn’t have my wallet OR my cell phone! I remembered too late: the evening before I had gone to a movie with a friend and had taken my wallet and cell phone from my “work bag” to switch to a more casual purse.

Great. On empty, No wallet. No cell phone. In a city where I knew no one.

Luckily, my checkbook was in my work bag, so I held out hope I could convince the attendant to take my check without identification. The attendant was sympathetic, but said the station didn’t take checks. There were no other gas stations at this exit.

I scrounged around my car and found $1.50 in change – enough for ALMOST half a gallon. Probably not even enough to get me to my destination. But better than nothing.

After giving the attendant my change, I went to the bathroom, cursing my own forgetfulness and the high price of gas. When I came out she informed me someone in the station store overheard me and put $5 toward my purchase. I’d seen a woman at the ATM earlier. Without even knowing me, she’d given $5 toward solving my dilemma. I ran out of the store to thank this mystery person, but she was driving off, with a wave.

This simple act of generosity made a huge difference in my day. And gave me a very favorable impression of Detroiters. I wish there was some way I could convey my gratitude to this individual, who didn’t even wait to receive a thanks. She’ll never know that this was one of my first interactions with people of Detroit, and thus made a very strong first impression as an ambassador of her city.

I figure the best way to give thanks would be to pass on such selfless kindnesses to the people who come into my own radar. To strive to live a “pay it forward” philosophy. To be mindful of how simple acts can make a huge difference to those in need around me.

These were my thoughts that morning, filled with gratitude at the difference her gift made to my day. I was able to travel without further incident to my work obligation — $6.50 worth of precious gasoline in my tank. It was even enough to get me within ten blocks of my house that evening, before running completely out of fuel (another story).

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Comments

  1. Welcome to Detroit and I’m glad you had a great first impression!

    Posted by: I<3DETROIT | July 30, 2007
  2. You were very lucky, very lucky indeed. I would not have given you the money, I probably would have thought you were a begger and yes, I live in Detroit.

    Posted by: Billy Leopardskinhousen | July 31, 2007
  3. Detroit isn’t all bad like everyone thinks. It’s stories like this that make me proud to be a Detroiter.

    Posted by: detroit love | July 31, 2007

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017