This morning, at 5:50, I pulled my mini-van into a gas station. It was still dark out; cars and people were sparse.
My credit card wouldn't work so I headed inside to empty my wallet of cash for as much gas as it would buy. On the way in, the owner of a new, blue, Buick Rendezvous asked me if I had any spark plugs. I told him I didn't and asked what was wrong. He told me he needed a jump. I could hear from his speech that he was from the streets, and because this sort of talk just comes out sometimes I told him, "I gotchu when I come back out,"
Once I started pumping, he double-checked anxiously, "Yo, chico, you outta here in a hurry or what?"
"Naw, man, I told you I gotchu. I'm just gonna pump here, then I'll pull over."
"Alright, then," he replied, and he went to pop the hood.
It took him a few minutes to connect the cables because he wouldn't put down his thin, brown cigarillo. But we finally got it going, and I put the cables back in my nifty little white-boy, mini-van jumper cable bag.
As I moved towards my car, he raised himself up on his and thanked me the best he knew how. "Hey man," he shouted, "anything you need, I can get it for you."
My terse thanks made him think I didn't understand what he meant, which was drugs. So he called me over to his rolled down window, and he said to me, "Listen man, I can get you anything. Anything! Money, drugs, bitches. I can getchu bitches, man!" I guess he was right; I hadn't understood.
"Whatever you want, man. I mean, how's a man gonna turn down bitches?"
He misinterpreted my smirk as interested. "You want some bitches, don't you. I'm gonna getchu a bitch."
"Naw, man, actually I don't," I told him, "I'm happily married."
"Really, man?" he asked, "that's coo den." He paused a moment and thought, "You know what, man? Tha's coo. You wanna know how I really feel from da bottom of my heart? I wish I was happily married, too. Man, I respect you for this, fo real. This means you just did this for...for...for..."
He searched for words, it seemed he didn't have a category for this sort of behavior. I finished his sentence. "just tryin' to help out a neighbor."
"Yeah man, thank you," he said. And we drove away to our worlds.