Riding on Empty


How many times have you jumped in your car and sped off, only to discover, way down the road in the middle of nowhere, your tank is on empty?

Sucks, doesn’t it?

Right away you get in the lane near the shoulder. You turn off the A/C, roll down the window-you even cut off the radio. You will do anything just to make it to a gas pump. You begin to pray, “Lord, please, just let me make it to a gas station.”

One more mile and your car sputters and dies. You coast to a slow stop onto the shoulder. Now what?

For my Good Friday:

I traveled down the highway, my daughter in the passenger seat, my son in the middle seat. We had the music playing and the air blasting.

We passed an abandoned car. About a half-mile down, we saw a man and his young daughter walking on the shoulder. Their clothes were dirty and torn, and the man carried an old red metal gas can. I tried to pull over to offer help, but with a semi bearing down on me, I couldn’t pullover in time.

I knew the nearest gas station was at least five miles away. And it was hot.

I got off at the next exit and raced back to see if I could catch them. They had walked about another quarter-mile when we stopped them. The man looked relieved.

“Hey, is that your car back there?” I asked.

“Yeah, I just ran out of gas,” he said.

I offered to take him to the gas station and then take him back to his car.

When they got in he never stopped thanking me for stopping.

The man pointed to the girl sitting next to my daughter, who now sat in the middle row, my son way in the back seat. “This is my daughter, Erica” he smiled.

“Hi,” she spoke shyly.

“And I’m Randy.”

After the introductions we merged into traffic.

We pulled up to the pump. He got out and his daughter followed him to the cashier window. As soon as he started pumping the gas into the can I heard the pump cut off.

Over my shoulder I could see the amount he pumped: $0.68.

When they got back in the car I asked him if he needed a few dollars.

“No I’m good, we don’t have that far to go.” He tried to smile.

“Where you headed?” I asked.

When he told me how far, I knew there was no way he was going to make it on just $0.68.

“Look,” I began, “please take this ten dollars, fill up the gas can. I’ll take you back to your car, then I’ll follow you back to this station, then you can get more gas.”

He hesitated at first. I could see the tears in his eyes.

“I don’t know what to say,” he said.

“You don’t have to say anything, just take it,” I said passing him the money.

When we returned to the station he put the remainder of the ten dollars in his gas tank. I tell you, it has been years since I felt anyone express so much gratitude. I will never forget Randy or Erica.

(Note: For Good Fridays, I don’t encourage helping others while putting yourself in danger. As you do your good deeds, make sure you proceed with caution).

Tell us your Good Friday story. Let’s talk.

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