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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Encouragement (02/23/12)

TITLE: Still Watching
By Carol Alwood


I piled the quarters onto the counter at the Shell station and tried not to make direct eye contact with the gas attendant. “Six dollars on eight,” I managed quietly, not wanting the line of customers behind me to notice my pathetic payment method. “Sorry about the change.”

“It’s okay. I needed the quarters for my till anyway,” the excessively cheerful girl responded a bit too loudly.

“Thanks.” I managed a thin smile.

Since I had spilled coffee down my blouse on the way to work, the day had deteriorated from there. My bank account was negative and pay day wasn’t for another two weeks. Given that my husband had just been laid off at work and we were almost out of milk, it wasn’t what I wanted to see. It felt like everything in my life was beginning to unravel like the hole in the elbow of my cardigan sweater. Consumed by feeling sorry for myself, I was finding it difficult to match the girl’s positivity.

Trudging back out to my car that had squealed into the station - I needed new brake pads and rotors too - I twisted my gas cap off and reached for the gas nozzle.

Why is everything so hard Lord? I questioned. It’s been so many years that we have been struggling. Don’t you see us at all? Tears pooled in my eyes at the desperation of my situation. Although I had tried to get full-time work for years, I was stuck doing a part-time, paid by the hour job that wasn’t secure. When my husband lost his job, my mood had turned a dark spiral downward.

Whatever, I rolled my eyes at God and started the gas pump. I flipped the little lever to keep the gas pumping, and slunk back into the driver’s seat to wait. As if this will take long, I thought, but I wanted to play a game of Scramble on my phone. Nobody was behind me anyway.

Once my two minute game was complete, I forced myself back out of the car and lifted the gas nozzle out. Placing it back in its cradle, I noticed that instead of six dollars, sixty dollars had been pumped into my tank.

What on earth? I froze. For a split second I considered taking off with the full tank without saying anything. Then, furrowing my brow, I marched back into the store with no idea what to do about the gas that mistakenly ended up in my tank. I knew I couldn’t pay for it, and I was afraid in my emotional state, I might make a scene.

The line moved along slowly, but heat crept rapidly up my neck. Being broke is so embarrassing, I commiserated with myself.

Back in front of Miss Chipper, who apparently couldn’t count, I bit my lip to reign in my emotions. “It seems that you punched in sixty dollars instead of six,” I said grumpily. “I would have noticed, but I got back in my car and didn’t see until it was finished. What am I supposed to do now?”

I was confused when the girl smiled at my situation. You need a good dose of reality girl, I thought to myself.

“It wasn’t a mistake,” she eagerly responded leaning closer to me over the dingy counter. “Someone who wants to remain anonymous paid for your gas.” She winked at me with a bright grin.

Standing stupidly before her, I felt a wave a guilt at my attitude.

“Really?” I exhaled, relieved. “Are you sure I can’t thank them?” I asked.

“Nope,” she assured me, speaking as if she were telling me a secret. “Sometimes, God simply wants to rain down blessings to let you know He’s still there.”

“Thank you,” I told her, not knowing who else to express my appreciation to.

“Have a blessed day,” she added.

Exiting the Shell station with a lump in my throat and grateful tears spilling down my cheeks, I knew that God was still watching.

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This article has been read 390 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Donna Wilcher03/01/12
Great story! It encouraged me to be somebodies answer to prayer. Thanks for giving me the idea... God Bless

Kathleen Langridge03/02/12
Your story was the embodiment of the Challenge topic. Such a good job.
Tendi Rice03/02/12
This is really nice-God does watch us even when we don't think He does!
C D Swanson 03/02/12
Tears are falling down my cheeks! What a beautiful entry. I loved this.

God is always watching isn't He? And so often He brings us blessings when we least expect it. He loves us, and will always reward those who walk in His ways, as evidenced by the MC's scenario.

Thank you for this! It touched me deeply.

God Bless you~
Nancy Bucca03/04/12
It's those little surprises that delight and bless us. What an encouraging story for us all.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/05/12
I love this story. It brought tears to my eyes. I have done random acts of kindness for strangers before (though never $60 worth) and I believe I was more blessed by this gift than the stranger was. It's something I'd encourage everyone to try once in a while. Even if it's just something little like helping an elderly person put their groceries into their car.

The only thing that might make this great story excellent would be if you did a tad more showing than telling. Instead of saying "tried not to make direct eye contact " show it by saying something like my eyes refused to look at the clerk as my cheeks burned a bright shade of red. You've done quite a bit of showing but even more will really paint a picture for the reader.

Your MC jumped to life for me. I could picture her and my heart hurt for her feelings of desperation and anxiety. This was spot on topic and you did it in a fresh way. You showed encouragement not by words that a person or God said but by actions. I think that was a brilliant idea.
C D Swanson 03/08/12
Congratulations! God Bless~
Carol Alwood03/08/12
Thank you for reading my story. I appreciate the feedback and encouragement and look forward to reading your stories too!