The aroma of coffee beans permeated my hair and clothing the second I walked in the door. Like a warm, friendly hug it engulfed me. The tables were loaded with drinkers of all sorts sipping on frothy concoctions that were worth every inflated dime. I saw my good friend standing by the counter eyeing her choices on the board. She was having a hard time deciding what she wanted because this wasn’t her usual drive thru order. This was a legitimate experience that required more from her than just saying,
“I will take the number 1.”
No, this was a face to face encounter with another human being versus hanging out the car window yelling into a box. A treat this great comes with much contemplation.
“I love coffee. I love it,” she said as I watched her eyes scan the board.
“What are you having?” she asked.
“I am having a medium iced peach black tea with a shot of raspberry.”
“That sounds good. But, I love coffee. ”
After much travail, in which I thought she was going to opt for a fancy whipped up drink on steroids, she said,
“Coffee. Black. With a little cream.”
I think she went back and forth on the cream, but I was preoccupied getting out my card to pay.
Both of us were ecstatic to be meeting not only because we hadn’t seen each other for awhile but because it was free time. No responsibilities and pure freedom.
It wasn’t difficult to find ourselves quickly wrapped up in discussions over writing, talking about God, and how our lives were progressing.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman enter the shop. It was one of those subtle things that happen but you don’t really recall the details of it until later.
We continued to talk, and she began telling me a story from her childhood. Usually most of our time together is spent telling our true life stories. Some funny, some sad, but we always leave each other feeling better just for having been together for a little while.
I was slightly aware that the woman who had come in was going table to table and talking to the patrons. I was listening to my friend speak, but I was somewhat distracted as I watched people get out their wallets and go into their purses and hand her cash.
As she made her way closer to us, I didn’t give my friend any indication that I was overhearing or seeing what was going on around us. My mind and eyes went from the thief making her way to our side of the room to trying to stay focused on what was being said.
I watched stealthily as she hit on a couple next to us. Again, I made no mention of this to my friend who continued on talking.
When she sidled up to us, I kept my eyes locked straight ahead. I refused to give her eye contact.
“I need gas money,” she barked.
She was glaring at my friend who responded by gulping and grabbing her purse to rummage for loose change.
I moved my head in slow motion so I could take in her attire. Her attitude was in full broadcast.
“I ran out of gas. I need gas for my car.”
I saw her lick her lips as my friend handed over cash just like all the other people had done.
She turned to look at me.
“You don’t have cash? You don’t have anything to give me?” Her annoyance was running high because I hadn’t moved into action to do her bidding.
I felt like I was in a school play yard and the class bully was attempting to take my lunch money. There was no humility or even a ‘please’. Her approach was aggressive and intimidating.
I looked at my wide eyed friend who had conformed, and I saw the unspoken pleading for me to hand over what was being demanded.
“What color is your car?” I asked.
She took a slight step back.
“What?” she asked with a sneer.
“I asked you the color of your car.”
“Ah-Ah-Ah-Bl, I mean red,” she snapped.
“What type of car is it?” I said immediately trying to limit her time to think. Most people are able to say the color and make of their car without much thought.
“Ah- Ah-Ah-What difference does this make?” she snarled.
“What type of car do you drive?” I repeated not blinking.
“I uh, drive a red Pontiac.”
“Where are you stranded? What are you going to use to put the gas into? You don’t have a container.”
“I am going to buy a gas can! Are you going to give me money or not?!”
“There are no stores around here to buy a gas can from.”
As she continued to retreat, her voice was becoming so loud that conversations ceased as we went back and forth. My questions were making her lies come to light.
“Before I give you money, I am actually trying to help you solve your problem. I don’t know how you are going to put gas in your car without having something to put it in.”
Realizing that I was exposing her to all those who had just believed her sob story, she shouted,
“I don’t need your money!”
Then, she looked at my friend and screeched,
“Thank YOU for helping me!”
Like that was supposed to make me feel embarrassed in public for not helping. She ran as quickly as she could out the door and that ended her shift working the room.
When I turned back to my friend, she was shaking her head in disbelief and the couple at the table next to us began to argue.
“Why did you give that lady any money?” he asked.
“Because she said she was out of gas!”
“She was lying! Why did you listen to her?! You gave her a lot of money!”
“How was I supposed to know she wasn’t telling the truth?”
They had overheard my entire interaction with the petty criminal and realized they had been scammed.
“So many things get triggered when someone talks to me like that,” my friend said. “I have had experiences in my past where people have bullied me so I just give them what they want so they will go away. That is why I gave her the money.” I could tell she felt bad about her decision now that the dust had settled.
“She was pretty intimidating, so I could see why you did what she wanted you to do.”
I sat for a moment and thought back over the entire exchange. From the time she walked in the door, I knew that something was not legitimate about the lady. That still, small voice inside of me was saying: Don’t do what she says. The line of questioning I put her under was not preplanned and happened spontaneously.
It was similar to breathing. I don’t consider where my next breath is coming from. It just shows up.
To live like this is the ultimate way to peace because it takes the dilemma out of things. I like to help people who are in need, but I do not like to assist those who are ripping off the public. Her yelling at me as if I was a cold hearted individual not willing to help was meant to humiliate me, and I have to say for a couple seconds she did make me feel like a low life. However, I had uncovered so many falsehoods in her story, I was easily able to shake off that notion of myself.
In this day and age of media, we are being told what to believe and how to believe it in the hopes that we will make our decisions based on what we see with our physical eyes and hear with our ears.
Proverbs 20:12 says,
“Ears to hear, and eyes to see-both are gifts from the Lord.” (NLT)
To embrace this wise saying means a wonderful thing. We all have a powerful second set of senses connected to the spiritual realm that if utilized will help us separate the authentic from fabrications.
We know that God loves us, and we know that prayer helps to lead us on the right path when we have a decision to make. The combination of that unfailing help of heaven and being willing to take a minute or two to quiet down and wait for an answer to come can make all the difference in the world. Many times we are blinded by the raging noise from our televisions and radio. We listen to all the voices telling us what to do instead of going inward and having the honest answer surface.
I didn’t have time to sit and ponder my decision as this person made her way over to our table that day. However, I had been regularly practicing the quieting of my mind when faced with options to choose from. With that in operation, I was able to easily identify the truth from fiction. According to the verse above, we can tap into that supernatural vision and allow God to work on our behalf when trouble is brewing.