This morning I eavesdropped on a moment that has stayed with me all day. It didn't even involve any words. I am at the Chevron station filling up my mid-sized SUV, watching the dollar amount go up, up, upwards of $50. A young woman exits the gas station's convenience mart. She is white, thin, with straight light brown hair in a pony tail. She wears a faded blue t-shirt with a rainbow decal, jean shorts and black flip flops that look too big. She looks straight ahead, very focused.
She puts the nozzle in the car behind me, a burgundy Ford AstroVan with lots of battle scars and no hub caps. While the pump dispenses, she retrieves a big bag of trash from inside the car and empties it into the station's receptacle. Click. The nozzle taps off. She struggles with removing it for a minute and wipes her cheek. She is crying.
She removes what seems like 50 paper towels from the dispenser, puts them in the van, closes the door and sighs. She wipes tears from both cheeks and heads back to the cashier. She comes out and goes around to the restroom, disappearing inside.
I glance in the trash can, there are chip bags, diet coke cans, papers and some used diapers. I look at her pump gauge. It reads $6.00.