I WAS preparing to pump gas into our newspaper van at Billingsley’s station in South Shores Saturday morning when I learned I would have to prepay. When I went inside the station to prepay, I was told the reason for prepayment was that so many drivers in recent days had pumped their gas and then left without paying for it!
I LIKE THE people I deal with at Billingsley. It’s a local business and to have them cheated out of money for gasoline by selfish, uncaring people — to the point they had to switch to prepay to prevent further losses of revenue — was a downer to hear. I didn’t mind prepaying but I did mind that honest people in an honest business were being robbed! I don’t know if the prepay policy is still in effect as I’m writing this column but if it is, it will not make any difference in my support of this business. AS I was driving back to the newspaper Saturday to do some work I kept thinking about the people who had stolen gas from Billingsley — and what goes through their heart and soul to make them “rob” a station by pumping gas and then driving away without paying. I couldn’t help but think about what has happened to America in recent years and the apparent rampant selfishness that permeates about every level of our society.
I PARKED my car on Water Street in front of the Millikin Court Building since it was Saturday. When I later went to my infamous car “Christine” for the drive home, she would only spin her tires! Even though I had parked at the edge of the piles of plowed snow after a minute or two of trying, it was evident I was stuck in the snow!
SUDDENLY, I saw a pick-up truck pull up behind me! A young man and woman got out of the truck with shovels and spent the next 20 minutes digging all of the snow and ice away from my car’s tires. After weathering the cold temperature, a lot of shoveling and tires spinning, Christine was finally set free from the snow and ice. Once out, I stopped my car, got out and walked back to the couple.
I THANKED them for digging me out and offered them some money for their help, which they refused, indicating they had been helped themselves by others twice during the previous few days. While we were talking, another couple walked towards us to also help but by then my car had been freed from the snow and ice. Even though the couple had refused the money, I gave it to them anyway because I really appreciated what they had unselfishly done — and because they hadn’t done it for the money.
THE YOUNG couple had not only freed my car but had also reminded me that, in a society where selfish, uncaring people exist, there are far more unselfish, caring people who look out for others without a second thought or expectation of profit. That’s the Decatur and America that I know and while the snowstorm brought out examples of selfishness, the bad examples pale in comparison to all of the examples of unselfishness and helping others that a lot of snow can generate.
Thank you, Sam and Pam, not only for digging out my car, but reminding me of why I love this community and Central Illinois — and the people here.