Can You Spare a Cheeseburger?
Somewhere in central Washington, December '12, 07:00 am (redundant, but maybe you’re not a trucker, European, or ex-military), still dark.
A younger woman (20s maybe), wearing a puffy black down coat approaches me while I’m pumping gas. “Do you have some change so I can buy a cheeseburger?”
I know I don’t, but I can’t stop my hand from reflexively patting my front pocket. “No,” I tell her.
“How about a dollar so I can buy a cheeseburger,” she persists.
“No. I don’t have small bills,” I say.
She doesn’t go away, or even move. Her expression is static and
inappropriate for the facts I’ve given her. I’m not sure if she’s stoned or a little slow – her eyes stay wide open as if both eyes are lazy eyes, but she’s not really staring off into the distance.
“Okay, do this for me,” she says.“Go in and by me a cheeseburger. You don’t have to put anything on it. Will you do that for me?”
“Ok,” I mumble and finish pumping gas. She walks back to the convenience store, resumes her post by the door, and asks the next person exiting if he has any change. I hang up the hose and walk towards the door.
“Can you put some mayonnaise on it?”
I don’t answer, but I go in and grab a cheeseburger out of the heated case. I can’t find a packet of mayonnaise. I pay with a twenty then file away
the ten, five and ones in my wallet. Outside I hand
her the cheeseburger.
“Can I have the change?”