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“I’ve run out of gas…can I have five bucks?”

I’m sure most of you know exactly what I’m talking about in my title. We’ve all heard it. Most commonly when trying to pick up a few groceries on the way home from work. I’ve had the experience numerous times.

You’re approached by someone who looks down on their luck – possibly homeless. They tell you (most convincingly) that they’ve run out of gas and can’t afford to put more in their tank – and could you find it in your heart to give them 5 bucks for a gallon or two? I’ve heard variations on this story – once I was told that he’d just finished up a trip from <insert some random state many miles away>, traveling here for his wife’s father’s funeral. Now, I am not (contrary to popular belief) without a heart. However, it is not my natural instinct to believe these stories or to think for one second that any money I fork over won’t immediately be used to purchase one of two things – neither of which is gasoline – both of which probably taste just like it. Call me a cynic. Call me mean. I just refuse to give these folks any money. I almost always offer to take them at their word…and pop over to a close by gas-station and purchase them a gallon or two. Occasionally I even offer a full tank. I’ve never been taken up on my offer. [Read more…]

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