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The Price of Gas

Yesterday, I went to this gas station that I know is almost 10 cents lower than the lowest gas in my neighborhood. Of course I'm referring to 'hood gas. My baby was with me and I explained where we were going and why we were going there.

"To gas up the car?" she asked.

I told her yes.

"The gas is the car's food?" she asked.

I told her yes and also discussed where the nozzle goes and every other detail associated with pumping gas. She is a sponge right now, and at almost 3 she is really making sense of everything my wife and I tell her.

So I get to the gas station and there's no place to put my credit card. I walk into the store, making sure my baby can see me (which I thought she could) and tried to pay there.

"We don't take caahrds." said the African man behind the counter. This was seconded by the Latina woman beside him. I can't say that I blame them in 2008, with credit card fraud being what it is. I pulled out all the cash I had on me, a whopping eight bucks and passed it across the counter.

"We're changing the till right now, you'll have to wait," the woman told me, flatly.

I hate when people I'm giving my money to act like they're doing me a favor versus the other way around. But I was there, so I waited.

And waited.

And waited, until finally I said, "Look I got a baby in the car, are you done, because if not I'll just go somewhere else?"

Suddenly they were ready to take my money once I was ready to take it and leave. I walked quickly back to my car and ripped open the back door where I saw my baby girl in tears with her bottom lip poked out as far as it can go. This wasn't her usual crying that's associated with her not getting her way. Abandonment and the helpless despair that comes with it was on her face.

"Daddy's back," I said, smiling. "Are you okay?"

She nodded.

"You don't have to be scared. I didn't leave you. I'll never leave you, okay?"

She nodded again. Completely riddled with guilt I bought her a toy at the local CVS drugstore and by the time we got home it was business as usual. But that look she had on her face stuck with me until I fell asleep last night. All I did was leave my baby in the car for five minutes with a clear view of me. How anyone, how any man, can abandon that which he made for life, boggles my mind. By design we aren't lions, tigers or bears so we can't thrust our young out there and expect them to be okay. We can't not worry about it because we didn't plan it or we're not ready. As a man, no matter what the circumstance, life stops being about only you the second you bring a new life into this world. There's no way around this. Period.

And I won't be going back to that gas station.

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