With my rear tire nearly flat I knew I’d have to stop at the nearby gas station and fill it up.
As the first segment of 60 Minutes played into my ears I pulled up to the air compressor at the corner station, quickly jumped off my bike, propping it up against the machine, took off my backpack, and started fishing around for three quarters.
My hands were shaking. A quick glance at the time on my phone revealed I only had 6 minutes until the next train and I was at least five minutes away. But I couldn’t go another day riding around with this tire so low.
I put the coins in the machine and it roared to life. My fingers fumbled to get the rubber cap off and the tire in the right position. All the while listening to the story of Julian Assange cooly tell his side of the story about Wikileaks on 60 Minutes. He’s a character from Superman. But is he Superman or Lex Luther? Seconds go by until I finally got the nozzle attached and squeezed the handle to start pumping air.
I exhaled a sigh of relief.
Just then a hand brushed across my neck and shoulder. I instantly cringed and almost fell over into my bike. The hair on my neck stood on end. Who just touched me?!? The fight or flight instinct stood me straight up, unsure which option to take.
Startled, I looked to my right. Instantly I was put back at ease. A woman, homeless, bent over to grab the spicket to the water nozzle on the air compressor. As her friend looked on with other bottles in hand she began to fill up her water bottle.
She and her partner live in the bushes behind the gas station and saw me pull in. They know that the water only flows from the spicket when the air compressor has money in it and were simply taking advantage of the opportunity.
My heart sank back to its normal position. And I tried to act as cool as Assange answering those questions on 60 Minutes. We were both kidding ourselves.
I kneeled back down to finish filling my tire. As I put the rubber cap back on my now-full tire I looked to my right one more time. Yes, I’d just been startled by a frail, strung out, and harmless woman doing what women for centuries have been doing… fetching water.
Ashamed, I put my backpack on, mounted my bike, and peddled off.
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” John 4:13-15
Just another day, reminded early in the morning, that Jesus is King and I’m just a jester.