“Gas Money for California,” he asked


In the parking lot of the Pet Mini-Mart yesterday, a young man approached me as I was getting into my car, asking for money, so he could get to some place in California. His eyes were bloodshot and his demeanor was so mellow, I thought he might go to sleep, leaning across the top of my Honda CRV. I got some money from my wallet and handed it to him. “You look really stoned,” I said.

He grinned. “Well, actually, I am,” he replied, “but it’s legal now.” Then he stared at me. “Do you smoke?” he asked.

I shook my head. “No,” I said, “but I used to work in rock ‘n roll radio. I know what stoned looks like.” He blushed. “All I’m saying,” I told him, “is that, if you want to be more successful at this, you might want to sober up some before you approach people to ask for money. If you look stoned and reek of marijuana, they’re less likely to believe you need money for gas, and they’re less likely to help you.”

He looked startled. “I smell like marijuana??” he asked.

“Well, it’s either that,” I told him, “or you’ve been barbecuing a Herculon couch under a bridge. You just happened to catch me on a good day when my old heart is feeling generous and shiny.” I started my car. “Take good care,son,” I said, “don’t let this be your whole life.”

He was giving me the peace sign as I drove off. JS


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