It wasnít always this way.
I drive beneath the stars, less than a quarter tank left, and I still donít know where Iím going. Iíd pray for a gas station, but itís moot; I donít have any money either.
There are those who werenít paying attention, who bought everything and worried about paying sometime down the road. I wasnít one of them.
I drive another mile, then pull into a truck stop, just to get some rest. Iíve been three weeks on the road, searching for work, but finding only rejection time and time again.
I washed a truck for cash yesterday. I sent a twenty to my wife, but even when I did, I knew it was foolish. That was seed money, gas money, money to get me started somewhere, and now Iím busted.
Iím an idiot.
But not really. More than anything, I guess it was hope I was sending them. Right now, hopeís all we have.
I park behind a late model Lexus.
My friends back home, theyíre waiting it out. They drink beer and rant about
the government; unemploymentís run dry for most of us. I almost ended up waiting too long, myself. Everyone was so sure the factory would reopen. Itís easy to fall for another manís certainties.
I push the seat back and try to sleep but canít. I get out and sit on the curb next to my car.
The Lexus is white; itís a nice one. But who buys a Lexus in times like these? I wonder if he worked hard for it or had it given to him. I wonder if he stole it, conning people like my friends into buying things they couldnít afford, making promises for them that he knew they could keep.
I hate him. I do.
I throw pebbles on the ground and force my bitterness back down. I know better.
There was a time, not so long ago, when we were all working fifty hour weeks; we were all making money. Despite the good times, most of us went deeper and deeper into debt. It was just never enough, this greed.
But not me. I knew that times were good. Something about life just shouted it out, or maybe the Lord whispered it in my prayers.
I bow my head. Perhaps the Lord will whisper something now, as well.
I praise Him; I thank Him; I ask for His blessing. I ask for something, anything to get through. I ask Him to make me a better person. I ask Him for hope.
I say amen, and open my eyes, and before me is the white Lexus, confronting me. I hesitate, but I know what I must do. Bowing my head once again, I ask for His blessing on the owner. I ask it, not because he needs it, but because I do, because of my anger and pride.
I open my eyes and stare up at the stars, waiting for the inevitable. Godís teaching, my learning, and the sustenance He provides.
A man walks toward the Lexus. Heís dressed in khakis and a casual shirt; he could be me on a Sunday morning. Iím unshaven and unkempt.
Never in my life have I begged. Never.
We stare at each other as he approaches.
I canít believe what I have to do.
ďBrotherÖ,Ē I say.
He stops in front of his car, ten feet from me. He opens his door.
ďI hate to ask youÖbut could you spare some money? Maybe a five? I need gas to find a job.Ē
He looks me over.
This recession has been going on too long. Everyoneís heard the stories from the con artists, the bums.
I try to hold his gaze, but I canít. My eyes drop in shame. I look away, allowing him to get in his car and drive off.
But he doesnít.
He steps forward. ďHere.Ē Itís a twenty.
I try to thank him, but my voice doesnít work. I nod to him.
He waves as he drives away.
I gaze at the twenty in my hands, amazed. I want to frame it, this paper hope, like stores do their first dollar. Itís a gift, a gift from God, at just the right moment.
I sit back in my car and stare up through the windshield at the stars.
I thank the Lord and ask for a blessing upon my family.
Then I remember; theyíre about to receive one.
Blissfully, thankfully, I drift asleep.
Praise the Lord.
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