That Time I Asked Someone To Pay For My Petrol


Honestly, there's been a few times when I filled up the tank and then went to pay only to discover there wasn't enough money in my account. And I've had to call on friends to help me out...

But there was one time that stood out.

It was humiliating. And humbling.

There were fears. There were tears.

Last year on my way to Rainbow Serpent Festival, I stopped in a rural town to fill up the van I was borrowing. I knew I was low on cash (and going to be paid once I got to RSF), but hadn't realised an automatic payment had gone out from my account that day.

I put in about $40 worth of petrol, and knew I could pay half of it by cash.

I tried paying the rest by card, but was $25 short.

25 bucks. And I couldn't pay it.

I asked the service station worker if I could ring a friend and give them debit card numbers to enter manually, but he said they'd stopped doing that method and it wouldn't be possible.

I rang a friend who shared the same bank as me to ask if they could deposit a bit of money into my account, but no answer.

The clerk suggested I ask others who were buying petrol if they would cover me.

I was on the verge of tears and panic.

But I decided to ask... I stood near the check-out counter and mustered up the courage to ask the next paying person.

"Nah, sorry. It's my last money for the week."

I asked another person;

"No mate."

And another;

"Nah, sorry can't help you."

Some people were dismissive, while others seemed genuinely apologetic.

I asked 10 people.

A young women who looked a bit alternative (my vibe) approached the counter, and I calmly asked if she'd mind paying the extra $25 I needed to complete my payment.

She said, "sorry. I'm broke, it's on a credit card and I'm gonna have to pay it back anyway. can't help ya."

She was kind and apologetic.

I went outside to ask a woman I saw filling her tank. Her teenage son was standing with her.

I politely interrupted her, and explained about the automatic withdrawal from my account and that I was just short by $25.

She looked at me sharply. "Do I know you?", she asked.

"Uh, no.", I replied, trying to stay positive despite her harsh tone.

"So why would I give money to you?!" Her son watched her, I could tell he felt uneasy and unsure of what to do.

"Well, I'm another human. We're the same species and I thought perhaps you'd be kind enough to help me out." I replied, this time a little more sheepishly.

"No! Why would I do that? What are you thinking?" She started to get aggressive in tone.

I apologised for bothering her, and as I walked away, tears brimming to the surface, I noticed the young 'alternative' woman standing near her car.

She had just witnessed the whole thing.

I was already back inside the petrol station, now nearly sobbing, bewildered by why this woman had been so rude to me.

Her words cut deep.

The clerk seemed slightly disturbed and unsure what to do to have me in the shop crying, unable to pay for the rest of my petrol.

And then she was back, the young woman who'd witnessed the interaction between myself and the woman with her son.

She tapped me on the shoulder, and as I turned to face her, tears still running from my eyes, she said,

"Hey, I'll pay it for you."

I could feel her empathy and understanding; another human trying to make it through the week.

I was shocked and thanked her profusely. She was firm and kind in her reply, "It's cool. No worries", letting me know a simple thanks was enough.

The clerk gave me back my license, which he had held ransom until I could pay. He seemed stunned by the whole thing.

I got in the van, sat in the driver seat and just cried.

I was overwhelmed by the humiliation of one woman's harsh words.

I was overwhelmed by the kindness of another woman's generosity and empathy.

I was overwhelmed by my own humanness and need for support.

It all happened within about 20 minutes, and after a few moments of stillness and tears, I got back on the road and to the festival, where I landed in the arms of my dear friends.

These lyrics that came pouring out of me while co-creating an epic album with a group of friends over the course of 14+ hrs in warehouse in December keep coming back to me...

"I'm just a human trying to live"

Today, for no reason in particular, I felt to share this story with you...

And as I've taken the time to articulate it, I want to honour the parts of you that have been humbled and humiliated.

I honour the parts of you that have been so in need, and whether or not you asked for support, I honour your need.

I honour the unkind parts - the parts that get angry and speak harsh words (like the woman with her son).

I honour the generous parts - like the generosity I experienced from the young woman.

I honour the parts of you that don't know what to do - like the clerk.

I honour the parts of you that need to be seen, heard and held - like I did that day.

And the parts of you that hold others - like my friends did for me.

One of my dearest friends and mentor's Atlas Talisman shared with me that day through voice message something so profound...

He was travelling through Europe at that time, living off the generosity and donations of those he encountered along the way. I sent through a few voice messages to him, asking through the tears how he faced these kind of situations and sense of humiliation.

He shared with me a principle of his work (Open World, and Open World Theatre) -- to be able to embody any 'character'. He said that now I had access to the 'character' of 'Beggar', and with that a deeper sense of compassion and empathy.

I love that, because I think so much of our life is spent trying to maintain a particular identity, a particular character.

This kind of attachment to identity creates rigidity in our behaviour as well as our bodies.

The truth is we have the ability to embody every 'character' or identity... if we allow ourselves to be fluid and flexible. If we open to the curiosity of life and welcome the many roles we might encounter.

Sometimes we need situations like asking someone else to pay for our petrol in order to break down the constructs of who we think we are....

And remember that we are fully human.

My work is all about embracing what it is to be human, and I have the experiences to back it.

If any of this resonates with you, I'd love to invite you to share a conversation with me about it, and let's discover how we can co-create a life that is shameless for you too!

This post didn't start as a way for me to 'sell' to you... I really do want to offer the transmission of my life experiences and for whatever reason this story came to mind today.

If you do want to know more about how you can journey intimately with me, hit me up for a free Discovery Session.

Let's be humans together.

Let's be shameless. 

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Lindsey StillwellComment