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!”
Ahhhh, an opportunity to lighten the mood, 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 Thomas’ Jewelers 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 Thomas’ 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 Thomas’, 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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