A Man with a Cross Tattoo

The tattoo was tiny.  I could have covered it with the tip of my pinkie.  I say could have because I did not get that close to the man.

I had gone to a different church for Sunday Lenten service, on the north side of town and stopped on the way to the garden afterwards because I was running on empty.  I don’t like getting gas.  It’s one of the places I feel the most vulnerable.  The most exposed and subject to the whims of others.

I don’t know what I was thinking about but I was a million miles away from where I was. I had seen the man when I first pulled in but he was 3 bays over and quickly forgot about him.

I hear someone talking, I jump and see him standing by the trash can between the pumps. He asks for spare change.  I shake my head and tell him I don’t have any cash on me.  He apologizes for scaring me. I reply it is OK, I was in my head.  He said something about NPR and I laughed.

At some point in the exchange I noticed the tiny blue cross between his eyebrows.  There were other tiny blue markings on his face but I couldn’t tell you what they were.

I finished pumping the gas, thinking about lunch and thought maybe the man was hungry.  I screwed the cap on the tank and walked across the parking lot, looking for the man.  When I did, I pointed to the store and asked him if he was hungry, I could use my card.

He waved his hand no and backed away. He even crossed the street. I do not know why he said no. He hadn’t said why he wanted the money. Maybe he wasn’t hungry.  Maybe he had been told he could not go into the store.

It is illegal for people to pan handle in Dallas and there have been emails warning that some are criminals with violent backgrounds. Hence my distaste for stopping to get gas.  I am fully aware of the dangers of talking to people in the gas station parking lot.

I am also aware given a different set of circumstances, I could be the one asking for change at the gas station.  I just haven’t been hungry or desperate enough to do so.

So if someone talks to me, I will treat that person like a human being. In my response, I will do my best to bring God to the conversation.  I am glad there was a tiny blue cross to remind me to do so.

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