Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Embarrassment (01/12/12)
TITLE: Thirty Minutes of Free Fuel
By Noel Mitaxa
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I had to sit down because everybody just laughed at me!
I still get requests about my jokes; but my inner comedian keeps them coming - despite those requests.
Many preachers use humor to relax their congregations before delivering their strongest points, but the critical factor of humor is timing - in or out of the pulpit.
Three months ago I sensed timing handed to me on a silver platter…
While driving home from town, I heard my fuel gauge gasping from thirst, so I filled up where I’ve learned that Tom, the owner, shares my football loyalty.
Seeing his office door open, I passed the cashier’s booth and asked him - with a smile: “Are you really offering fifty per-cent discounts to us fellow-supporters - since we lost last year’s playoffs?”
“Sure am,” he grinned, “but (quickly noting his desk calendar) only on Thursdays!”
Rats! It was a Tuesday!
Time to get serious. I recalled reading that at least five customers had filled up and driven away without paying, so I expressed my sympathy.
Tom's smile morphed to a grimace: “It’s happened twice since that newspaper article. One fellow hid in his car to let a boy work the pump. When the kid got back into the car they took off. What a great example to give a kid! But most people are okay, so I have to avoid letting a small minority of cheats get stuck in my craw!”
<i>Ahhhh, an opportunity to lighten the mood,</i> thought my inner comedian.
“Tom, it reminds me of the fellow who had just had his hair cut and told the barber: ‘I’ve got to do some shopping, so if you cut the boy’s hair I’ll pay you when I get back.’
"After getting his hair cut, the kid returned to his chair with the other customers. Finally the barber said: ‘Your father’s taking a while.’
"The kid replied: 'He’s not my father. He’s just a guy who asked me if I wanted a free haircut!'"
We both chuckled as I started towards the cashier.
My laugh choked in a sudden, sinking feeling. A sensation of lightness was spreading through the inner pocket my jacket. Groping again with rapidly-solidifying dismay, I discovered I was now devoid of any leather object that could hold trivial incidentals like green folding-stuff, credit cards or proof of my I.D!
Red-faced, I fumbled an apology, while the remains of my mind began sprinting backwards through all I had done that morning.
Aah! It had to be at <i>Thomas’ Jewelers</i> in town, where I’d taken my wife’s watch for a new battery – and where I’d last seen this leather escapee. Reaching for my phone, I quickly called <i>Thomas’</i> and asked for the service desk, to learn that my wallet was calmly relaxing under their counter.
Apologising to Tom included giving him my business card, carefully showing him that I had many identical ones, so he would know I wasn’t passing someone else’s card off to him. An ironic touch, as this preacher – who should be trusted - was desperate to establish some bona fides.
For the fifteen-minute drive back to town it was hard to see over the steering wheel because I felt so small.
After finding a parking space, I skulked into <i>Thomas’</i>, where Cherie, the service desk lady smiled cheerfully: “When I saw you’d left your wallet on the counter I ran after you, but you’d gone!”
Before I could properly thank Cherie for her courtesy and her honesty, I suddenly heard my inner comedian replying: “It wasn’t me; that was my ugly twin brother. He’s very forgetful, but he is a fitness fanatic. That’s why he selected you for the get-fit program that he randomly inflicts on counter-staff!”
Bemusement was now slightly tainting Cherie’s smile. I’m sure that the expensive items all around her prevented her from being dazzled by my wallet’s contents, but I’m just a poor preacher anyway. Not that she would know – she has never heard me preach!
Now, after enjoying/enduring thirty minutes of free fuel, I had to go back to pay Tom.
He was great about the whole scenario, and a few times since then we have joked about it.
Three months later, it’s still hard to explain how fuelish I felt!
Author’s note: This story is totally true. Even the names and the anonymity are unchanged.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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