So – as you may or may not recall from part 1 – I had been conned into taking my two sons camping with the Cubs and Beavers, while my wife (yes I’ve dropped the lovely) Jo, stayed at home and abused the central heating.
I drove home and quickly packed a bag for my son and I, located the warm sleeping bag for Jamie and the air bed. I threw in as much as I could remember needing from the quick list that Jo had told me at the campsite.
After swiftly updating Facebook with my current state of mind, I was ready.
I got in the car and headed back to camp. As I drove off I realised that the petrol light was on and, not being a complete git, thought I’d better fill up so that Jo didn’t have to stop and do it later, or run out of it, I guess.
So I pulled into the petrol station – which was rammed with cars. It was a busy time of night, so I settled into a queue and waited.
Things were moving slowly, but still they were moving along.
Somebody was having trouble waiting though. A car kept pulling into one queue for a couple of minutes before deciding that a different queue seemed more promising and moving over.
“Relax”, I told it (yes I did actually say that out loud to a car – I hadn’t seen inside it yet so I could hardly tell the driver now could I?). But they couldn’t relax and as the car came close to me I saw a woman driving it with a couple of kids. The woman seemed a bit bothered.
“Relax”, I told her. “Just pick a queue and wait, take a chill pill” – I also advised.
When I got to the pump, I looked over and noticed that she was still waiting, even though she had arrived before me, this revelation caused me to visibly pump my fist and give a triumphant “Get in there me!” I don’t tend to get much pleasure from other people’s misfortune, but this was her fault for being impatient and not listening to my advice, I decided.
So I allowed myself a smug shout of victory.
I filled up, I queued again, I paid, and returned to my car to see something quite odd.
She was parked behind me, still waiting, even after all this time. There were, by this point two empty pumps.
“Hmm?” – I said.
As I approached my car, her window opened and she called me over.
I looked in to see a young woman at the wheel, a young kid in the passenger seat, and what turned out to be another young woman in the rear, rather than another child.
“Excuse me”, she asked, “Please could you help me out?”
“Ah” – I thought. But that was all she said, she didn’t say anything else and instead left an awkward silence. I took a guess that she wanted me to buy her some petrol. I said “Sorry I haven’t got any cash on me” (because I didn’t). And again she just sat there looking at me.
I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was, but something wasn’t right. I thought for a moment that I could put £10 of petrol in, and then go pay for it inside, but still she just sat there.
So I said “Sorry, I need to go” because I had already spent quite a while getting petrol and I knew the kids were waiting and it was getting dark. So I left her to it, drove out of the way and set about putting some new batteries, which I’d bought in the shop, into a torch.
As I did so, I thought some more and didn’t like what I was thinking. I thought, “What if that was Jo and the kids in that car? What if she had lost her handbag – or had it stolen – with all her money and phone in it? What if the young woman in the back was in the same boat because the handbags had been stolen from the car? Maybe they were just trying to get home, but hadn’t got enough petrol? If that had been my wife I’d really hope that just one passer-by trusted enough to help her – wouldn’t I?
£10. I could afford to give her £10 of petrol to get her home to safety, how long would it take really? 10 minutes? Could I really not afford that?
I was starting to feel really guilty by this point, and when I opened the battery case and the batteries spilled out onto the floor I thought “RIGHT – THAT’S BLOODY KARMA AGAIN!”
Karma was sticking its nose into the matter already.
Decision made. Of course I’d help her – why hadn’t I done it in the first place? Would I have helped her from the offset if she had been pretty? What kind of a stupid arse am I for that?
So I finished putting the batteries in the torch, resolute in my decision to help the woman, who was still circling, looking for help.
Just as I was about to open my door, salvation drove into the station.
A police car.
“Fantastic” I thought, she is saved. If she speaks to them they will help her. They will at least contact someone to help her, even if nothing else.
I was happy that they were now officially safe, although I wasn’t exactly relaxed because I wasn’t totally sure that this would be good enough for Karma – being that it wasn’t me helping them.
As soon – and I do mean as soon – as the police car came clearly into the view of this poor mistreated lady, she did a funny thing.
She sped off. As quickly as she could go, without making it too obvious, she completely left the petrol station and drove off.
Something about seeing those policemen made her want to swiftly leave.
“BLOODY HELL” I shouted! She was a con artist – scamming people for free petrol – all along!
“IN YOUR FACE KARMA!” I screamed, before noticing the funny looks that the policeman was giving me for blocking the last remaining parking space, that he wanted to be in.
Looking fairly guilty (because I always do when policemen talk to me for some reason) I drove off.
As I drove, I yet again told Karma what I thought of it.
Which was stupid, because I had a whole weekend of camping still to come…