When is being nice too nice?
Or even dangerous?
Last night I walked out of a store to the parking lot.
An old, loud truck passed me.
As I reached to open my car door
I heard "Excuse me, ma’am."
It was the guy in the truck.
He had a story about being stranded
and needing gas money.
I told him I didn’t have my wallet and only had a credit card
but would look in my car for change.
He then asked me to go to a gas station where he’d clean my windows
in exchange for some gas.
I hesitated and told him I needed to check in my car.
I found four quarters, accidentally dropped one between the seats,
and took three out to the man.
It wasn’t until I handed him the money that I looked at him.
He looked a little volatile.
A bit scary.
But I see volatile and scary every week at the soup kitchen.
He thanked me and I walked back to my car.
A woman in an SUV was idling there, watching.
She said, "I was just making sure you were okay."
I thanked her and got in my car.
And then it all hit me:
I hadn’t thought twice about approaching that man’s truck.
Hadn’t thought twice about standing next to his door and open window.
Hadn’t thought about the big dog on the seat next to him.
I regularly "bounce" people from the spaghetti dinner.
I’m used to people on the edge.
But none of that matters.
Last night I wasn’t paying attention to the situation.
And worse, I actually contemplated going to a gas station.
I need to maintain a sense of "me" in those interactions.
Giving is good until it’s stupid.