On a Moment of Selfish Caution and Nagging Doubts

"Hiya doin', buddy - my car just ran out of gas on the corner and I was hoping you could sell me some lawn mower gas so's I can get it going."

This was the way the 40-something interloper approached me as I was watering one of my gardens this morning. Normally I go out of my way to help people, but something about this greasy-haired individual set off my "trouble" alarm.

Maybe it was the way he was dressed that jumped out at me, a style that might be described as "open-shirted, hairy-chested, linguine-overeating mobster," and a person for whom a quality eczema natural treatment would be a welcome addition to the daily personal appearance regimen. Perhaps it was his too-friendly manner, which at first reminded me of those panhandlers who hang around gas stations bumming spare change so they can drive their starving children back to Illinois or whatever bulls**t destination they come up with.

Or it might have been the fact that this guy was way too old to be driving a car to the point where it runs out of gas. Or the fact that a gas station was a mere three blocks away. Or the fact that if I relinquished my small gasoline hoard, I would have to make an extra trip.

And it was a bright, sunny Thursday morning, so it wasn't as if the guy was going to have to trudge through a foot of snow or a driving rain to get his car running again. In fact, the exercise would probably do Mr. Chunky some good.

Anyways, I felt no compulsion to sell (or to give away in a spirit of good karma) the half-gallon or so of gasoline stashed in my tool shed. Yet the longer I looked at his stalled car on the corner, the more I began to question my initial decline to help this guy, even if he rubbed me the wrong way.

Luckily for the man and his companion, their cell phones brought help in the form of a friend or relative who delivered them some gas. Another 60 seconds later and the 1992-ish Pontiac rumbled away, and my doubts about refusing to be a Good Samaritan also passed.

Or did they pass? The doubt lingered at least long enough to compose this blog post.

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