Adventures in Decatur – Gas Station Blues

Hey all.

Perhaps it’s because they know they have a captive audience, maybe it’s because with gas being $3.40 a gallon they know you’re going to be standing there for a while if you plan to fill up whatever sized tank you have in your car; but panhandlers work a gas station pump area better than the  staffers that are actually paid to work there. I believe we have all been approached by the gas station panhandler at one point or another; all with their own hooks, lines and sob stories. I had one not long ago and this guy had no sob story at all…what he had was a problem with successfully constructing a pitch.

It’s right at 1:00am and rather than wait to go to the gas station in the morning I decided to pull in and go to the QuikTrip on the way home. It’s deserted for the most part being that it’s late and its a school night so I have my pick of the pumps.  I choose the one right in the middle of the station and hop out of the car and attempt to ready myself for the lube-free onslaught that the gas pump is going to put on my minimal finances.

I’m sweaty, tired, and my legs hurt from about 3 hours of salsa dancing; all I wanted was to pump my gas, go home, get in the shower and crawl into bed. I triggered the gas nozzle and watched the numbers start spinning and that’s when I heard it; those words that most of us have had the pleasure of hearing once or twice at the gas station…

“Ummm…excuse me, brotha…”

I tried to ignore it but it came again just from the other side of the pump, “Hey brotha, excuse me…”

Skrap’s Note: Why do they always want to go to the “brotha” card…it’s like they are trying to reel you in with the “we are family” routine before they hit you up with the pitch.

I looked to my left and shuffling over to me was a lean brotha, might have been about my age, perhaps a year or two older, wasn’t broken down looking or anything, just a regular dude. So I answer him and wait for his story…wanna hear it? Here it go…

“Excuse me, brotha, I don’t mean no harm or nothing, I don’t want no money, I ain’t out here begging. All I need is some gas…”

You can go ahead and insert the record scratch sound and confused tilted head dog picture here. Now, he doesn’t mean any harm, that much is true as he didn’t mean any at all; its the rest of his pitch I can’t get with at all. Dude doesn’t want money, but he wants gas which costs…money. I tried to replay it in my head but it didn’t make sense the second or third time I heard it internally so I said it aloud.

“So you don’t want any money, but you want some gas…”, I say to dude.

“Yeah, my car right there. I ain’t beggin’ or nothing like that, I just need to get home and I need some gas.”

So many options. Should I…

  1. Tell dude that if I don’t come up on a gig of my own in the next week or so I’ll be right here next to him at the QuikTrip competing for panhandling ground like Avon Barksdale and Marlo Stanfield competing for corners in West Baltimore. Or…
  2. Sit down on the hood of my car and try to explain in my calm wanna be English professor voice how flawed his pitch was and how you can’t claim not to not need money when in fact you want will cost the person he is asking money. Or…
  3. Just clam up, give him the dollar in quarters you have in the cup holder that you planned on spending on a Coke, and go home and blog about it.

If you chose 3 then you are the winner. Dude looked like he wanted to give me the screw face because what he wanted to do was push his car to my pump and get some gas off of my pump which is why he said he didn’t want money, he just wanted gas. But guess what, boys and girls, that would have cost me…MONEY! I told dude to take the dollar and keep it moving and he did right over to the older white dude who had just pulled up 3 pumps over where he was dismissed as quickly as he came. When I pulled out of the lot he was standing there in the middle of the station looking for another taker in the city of Decatur

There but by the grace of God go I…

~thanks for reading

Join the party at:


  1. Well soon and in every state and every station there will be a man or woman seeking gas. I often think about joining them but my pride won’t let me do it. So instead I stand at the gas station squeezing the nozzle imagining I am ringing the neck of the individual(s) responsible for this sudden hike in gas prices. What is so funny these prices have been predicted for the last few years, prior to the unrest in the middle east. So really what is behind all of this. As I prepare this very morning to leave for work I know I need gas for the 40 mile commute and my thoughts are of what will the magic number be this morning? My prayer is that there will be a glich at the pump and my twenty will fill the tank like it used to back in the day!

  2. You did better than me sweetie (especially since so many in my area anyway make this a living). I tell them sorry not today before they get good into their story.

  3. Gas prices, Food prices, Utilities, everything is out of control. However, we are blessed enough to know that through it All, God is IN Control. Love Mom

  4. The funny thing about these gas prices is the fact that they shouldn’t be this high. The oil companies wants everyone to believe its because of the uprising in Libya when Libya only supplies 2% of the world’s oil. I expect to see alot more people panhandling at the pump in the very near future. Me, myself, I plan on being a hermit this summer if the prices go any higher. You did the right thing… I think you would have been out of more had you chosen options 1 or 2…..

I love comments! Leave me one HERE! Pretty please...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s