Spassing Out

We've all been spanged before. You know, spanged—"spare changed," when crusty gutter punks and other beer-seeking street folk ask you for money as you amble by their patch of sidewalk (not to be confused with "hungry/homeless" cardboard sign-wielding at traffic intersections. Too passive. I'm talking about direct marketing).

So last night, for the very first time (perhaps in the history of humankind) I was spassed. Spare gassed.

The Chevron at the corner of San Mateo and Central was crawling with shady ladies and sunburned dudes sitting side-saddle out of opened driver's side doors (not theirs, it turned out), swilling tallboys of malt liquor. It looked like a fucked up tailgating party, but one where everyone stays hungry.

The marquee said $3.47. I only gas up about twice a month, but I can't resist a deal. Even if it means filling up at a Redi-Mart that resembles Bosnia circa 1993.

All the lanes were taken except for a Central-abutting end slot. A large, red SUV was my neighbor on the other side of the pump. As I walked up to the pre-pay keypad, I noticed my neighbor wasn't filing up. He was just parked there, engine off. Who knows how long he'd been camped out?

"Excuse me?" he asked, eyeing my debit card out. "Can you spare a gallon or two of gas?"

No, sorry. That's my unthinking, automatic answer. No. Sorry. I'm an asshole. But you probably are, too. What didn't strike me until after I pulled away was this: that's my answer to people who are asking for a few quarters or a dollar—this guy, shackled into his pathetically oversized car, had the gaul to ask a complete stranger for three-and-a-half to seven dollars.

Spassing. If it takes off, I'm going to need a new auto-generated response. And instead of that relatively painless-sounding "gallon or two," I need to retrain my ears to recognize what it really is.

"Excuse me? I'm addicted my car. Can you spare seven bucks?"

No. Fuck you.