"Hey, uh, would any of you have a few dollars you could spare me for gas? My truck is just about on empty, and I just need to get to the next town over in Elkhorn."
The question was meekly directed at a group of three middle-aged couples who were huddled over their lunches of Chicken McNuggets and Big Macs at the center of the McDonald's lobby. All three couples were neighbors who lived in the same new subdivision of recently built houses. They all had good jobs and seemed to always be competing with each other to own the nicest furnishings, landscapes, swimming pools and so forth.
At first, no one from the group said anything. They just momentarily stared at the tall man who towered over their table. He stood probably six feet or more with dark, wavy hair falling down to his shoulders. He had two tattoos displayed on his olive-toned skin. The one across his neck appeared to be a fish and the other on his forearm was the shape of a cross. He had a look of desperation in his soft, brown eyes as he stood there with his hands stuffed in his coat pockets, patiently waiting for their reply.
The wives in the group all looked to their husbands, and one by one, the husbands all shook their heads. One of them finally spoke. "No, sorry, man, it's almost Christmas and we are broke from buying stuff for the kids."
The tall man nodded graciously. "Okay, well thanks anyway, I appreciate your time."
After the man turned away from the group, one of the husbands said, "Why is it that the ones who work have to always take care of those who don't? I am not gonna throw my hard-earned money away to someone who probably doesn't work and always expects a hand-out." The rest of the group nodded in agreement and went back to their meal.
The man then walked over to a couple of men who appeared to be painters judging by their colorfully-blotched jump suits. Once again, he meekly asked if they had a few dollars to spare for gas money. One of the painters never even bothered to look at the man as he concentrated solely on stuffing his mouth with a sandwich. The other painter simply dismissed the tall man with a negative shake of the head and a good-bye wave.
The man once again graciously thanked the painters anyway and moved on. Behind him, he heard the two painters mumbling something about how it would be a cold day in **** before they gave their last five dollars to a free-loading Mexican.
The man then tried one last time as he approached a small group of senior citizens all sipping coffee and gossiping about members from their local church. After asking for the gas money once again, the women in the group all exchanged looks of pity but refrained from saying anything. Then, one of the elderly men offered a reply. "Well now, maybe if you hadn't spent your money on them tattoos you got there, you would have some money now, don't you think?" Before the tall man could respond, another of the senior men quietly said, "Sorry, son, you best look somewhere else."
So, with a look of defeat, the man then made his way to the door and walked outside and across the parking lot. He lifted up his head heavenward and softly spoke, "Father, please forgive them, and please give them more time to learn compassion and mercy for their fellow man." Then, the man's form slowly faded as it simultaneously appeared to rise up into the sky.