Recently at a Shell station in Centralia, the young gentleman who works the counter during the day opened his wallet when I walked to the counter and handed me $5. I was taken aback.
"What's that for?" I asked. He replied, "Well you know the other night when (and he named an ex-employee of the Shell station) was here?"
"Yeah I remember," I responded. "He didn't look too good did he?"
"Yeah, well when you came back in the store to buy him the pack of cigarettes…" he started.
I had felt sorry for him knowing he was down on his luck. He had bummed a smoke from me and he'd always been polite and kind to me when I've gone into the store, so I said, "I'll do you one better. Let me buy you a pack."
I went in to buy him a pack of cigarettes.
“Well while you were inside and he was over by your truck petting the dogs, he took $5 from your console,” he told me. “I asked him why he would do that when you've been so kind to him and he didn't say, he just had a funny look on his face and tried to tell me how he was not a thief. I didn't think it was fair for that to happen to you. You're always so nice to all of us and I know he won't ever pay you back, or even if he did it so I just want to pay you back for him.”
I was shocked.
I am full of respect for this young man. People that I have known for years, family members even, may not have done that. To tell me about it, let alone try to pay for it out of his own pocket, is not something a lot of people would ever do.
I did tell him to keep the money. I thanked him profusely and said that I wished I could reward him in some bigger better way but I don't know how.
I wondered if The Chronicle might write an article about him because that really was above and beyond the call of duty. Please bear in mind that he's just somebody at the store. I don't know him on a personal level. He was certainly not obligated in any way to do what he did. He is just a clerk at the store that I go to once, or sometimes twice, a day so we're acquainted with each other in that way.