Big heart, not so big brain

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’m 5’10".
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.

16 thoughts on “Big heart, not so big brain

  1. Be careful out there, my friend! I’m like you in that I choose to see the good in people, but sometimes I get blindsided. Sad to say, there’s a very thin line between Good Samaritan and Victim.


  2. OY!
    You scare me!
    My dad was NYPD and I am a rather skeptical NewYorka, so this makes me cringe.
    Please darlin always think of Tracy first! You are way too important.
    Predators are out there looking for the good samaritans!!


    • I didn’t mean to scare you. I did scare myself, though. I also had a talk with the boys last night, letting them know how I hadn’t been thinking but that we all needed to be thinking and aware in those situations.

      Thanks for your kind words, Laura.


    • That’s just what I was thinking.
      Seems like every big-hearted woman I know has a story like this, of giving instinctively and then not realizing until later that things could easily have turned dangerous. I like your conclusion that you just need to “maintain a sense of me” in those situations.


      • Phoebe, that’s so true about so many women having these stories. We’re used to be asked for things and used to giving in return. It works out as long as I keep “me” in the equation.


  3. I’ve never had someone ask me to accompany them to the gas station, but I’ve been approached while there. I gave them a few dollars for gas, and as I smelled the fumes (which were NOT gas fumes) when I got close, I wondered if I was a fool. But I’m careful not to endanger myself, especially when the kiddos are with me (which is most the time) — I think having them with me helps, actually, because I’m overly aware.
    I’m glad you shared a little and didn’t go to the gas station!


    • I think you’re right about the kids giving you an extra sense of awareness. It was just me, la di da di dah. But I talked with them last night, describing what I’d done and the many ways the situation could’ve turned bad.


  4. Oy. I have done similar things myself. I’ve wondered if it has something to do with being raised in a small town. I like it that fear is not my first reaction. But sometimes fear is exactly what you need.
    I’m glad that woman was there, keeping an eye on the situation. And glad that you didn’t go to the gas station.


    • “I like it that fear is not my first reaction.” Me, too. And I’m always going to strive for that but that can only work as long as my brain is also fully engaged. Sheesh.

      That woman was great. I worry if she hadn’t been there, I might not have realized what I’d just done.


  5. I don’t think it matters how tall you are – someone could have a taser, gun, whatever. I’m 5’11” myself but I think it’s better to err on the side of caution if there’s any doubt. I’m so relieved you didn’t go to the gas station and how very cool that someone was watching out for you!


    • You’re right, it’s definitely better to err on the side of caution. I’m trying to keep that thought in the front room of my brain (as opposed to buried beneath a bunch of crap in the closet at the very back of my brain!)


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