Seeing A World In Someone’s Gas Receipt


Today I was riding with a friend in her mom’s Ford Explorer. I had just met Mom the day before and I thought I’d throw some gas in her car because Mom works at Trader Joe’s on her feet all day and I wanted to do something nice for her because she has a nice daughter who did me a favor recently that saved me some coin.

While daughter used the john, I pulled this receipt from the pump.



Somebody bought $3.00 worth of gas. Not a gallon of gas, which would have been $3.79, but $3.00.

I imagined this person needing to get home or to work and putting their last three bills in the machine. It wasn’t a swank neighborhood. I have been without a buck, folks, and nobody has to tell anyone how much fun it isn’t.  Looking at this receipt and imagining the circumstances the of the person who put a thimble full of petrol into their engine was especially apropos because of what had happened to me earlier in the day.

One of the maintenance guys in the building where I’m staying this week did me a favor. I tried to give him $20 but he just plain wouldn’t take the money, and that was that. I put it in my back pocket.

I went to the supermarket a bit later and found myself at checkout in back of a Mom with two children whose bill for a full cart of groceries – like a week’s worth, it seemed – came to $13 more than she apparently had. I saw the look on her face as she started putting food items she’d picked back in the basket.

I know this look because I’ve been in the same situation and it’s pretty frustrating, sickening and embarrassing. When your account is low, you try to remember exactly what’s in there so this doesn’t happen, but sometimes you mess up and you have to look down at your groceries and decide what’s not essential – the eggs? The coffee? The tomatoes? The beans?

I took the $20 from my back pocket, handed it discreetly to the cashier and tilted my head in the direction of the Mom. The cashier’s eyes bulged as if to say, “Really?”

“Go ahead,”  I said. “Don’t say anything.”

The cashier told the Mom she was fine and the mom didn’t understand – how could it be fine? Finally the cashier pointed to me and said “This gentleman paid.” I didn’t look at the lady, so she could save face. She said “Thank you!” and I nodded.  On their way. Perhaps someone will do the same for me one day.

May Goddess bless you with enough money to buy gas and food.

Josh Max/Auto Gigolo