Back On Free Soil
It's 5:00 on a Sunday morning. You're in Oakland, California on your way to the airport to catch a flight with your wife and kids, when you pull into a gas station parking lot to top off the tank in the rental car (your wife's driving as the car is in her name).
The gas station parking lot is well-lit, but there's no traffic on the road, other than yourself. As you pull into the lot, you see a couple unsavory-looking characters loitering on the sidewalk nearby. You pull up to the pumps at the far side of the lot and begin to pump your gas (gas tank is on the passenger side of the car).
Just as the pump shuts off, one the guys from across the way approaches you from your wife's side of the car and asks you if you have any spare change. He's clutching the left outer pocket of his jacket.
Needless to say, this being the People's Communist Republic of California, you are not armed. The folding knife you usually carry in such God-forsaken places is packed away in your luggage, as you are just 20 minutes or so from having to go through airport security.
What do you do?
UPDATE 4/15/08: OK, here's how it went down.
I saw the guy coming just as I was done filling the tank. I put the gas hose back on the pump as soon as I could, as I knew that doing so was going to take my eyes of the situation in front of me, if ever so briefly.
Also, whether I recognized this at the time, the hose was in between me and the open car door, impeding my escape route.
After being asked for change, I told the guy, "Sorry, I can't help you." while maintaining eye contact. The last thing I was going to do was to allow myself to be distracted by taking out my wallet or ducking my head inside the car to ask my wife if she had any change. My goal was to remain in control of the situation.
This response came out of habit more than anything else. My rule is, unless you're playing guitar in the subway, or doing something else that provides some kind of service to me, you aren't getting a nickel.
While talking to the guy, and keeping my eyes on him, I screwed the gas cap back on. He persisted in asking for some change, "Please, anything you can spare.", "Just a quarter.", etc.
I told him "Sorry, no." again, and got back in the car. The wife, by this time, was well aware of his presence, and had started the car. Then, we were gone.
Now, chances are, this guy was just looking for a quick buck, or a handful of pocket change, but there was no way I was going to stick around to find out. My job is to keep my family safe, at all costs, not to buy this guy donuts and coffee.
Keep your wits about you, people.
Compare and Contrast...
Woman killed in ‘robbery gone bad’
An 18-year-old Southbridge woman was shot to death in her car Sunday in the Bronx in New York City in what police believe was a “robbery gone bad.” Her 14-month-old son was in the back seat at the time of the shooting. The toddler was unharmed.
Memo to Barack Obama:
Some of us "cling to guns", because we recognize that there are people out there who would kill us, without remorse, for the money in our pockets. And, there's nothing in the pages of "Liberalism for Dummies" that's going to change that reality. Given a choice between keeping my family safe by my own means or relying on a corrupt, slick-talking, condescending charlatan such as yourself to do so, my decision is made.
Pompous, elitist prick.
And, oh yeah...it's Buy a Gun Day today. You know what to do.
UPDATE II: Scratch the linked story above. The girl's scumbag boyfriend pulled a Chuck Stuart, with a little help from his scumbag cousin.
Apologies to commenter Dave T. for my inability to perfect time travel and get all the facts straight at the time I posted that link this morning.