So one night I took my mom’s van without permission to go see a girl in a nearby town. We hung out for about an hour, walking around, talking and that was it; never heard from her again and that was okay. On my way back, I stopped by a gas station – I mean, sure, I took the van without permission, but I wasn’t about to be a Proverbs 28:24 son.
As I was pumping gasoline, a black man named Joe approached me. He had just finished closing up the adjacent Burger King and informed me that his car was busted and asked for a ride home. My first inclination was to say, “no.” But something…something inside made me think of Hebrews 13:2 and it occurred to me that perhaps this man in need of assistance was an angel sent by God to test me, to see if I would help out my fellow man. Then, I thought what it would be like if I were in his situation and the greatest commandment came to mind; then I realized that didn’t exactly apply and remembered the second greatest commandment (duh, Cliff). So I agreed to help him out.
Little did I know what awaited me and what grievous loss my mother would suffer…
So, Joe got in the van and he told me where he needed to go; it was going to be about a twenty minute drive to another town and he was actually looking for someone who could come fix his car. At that point, something should have registered as sketchy – homeboy originally said he needed a ride home; once we were on the road it changed to finding a pal to fix up his busted car. I didn’t say anything though – I was just happy to be doing my good deed. I mean, had I not surreptitiously taken the van, poor Joe would be up the creek! Surely what I intended for skullduggery God intended for good and this righteous act would atone for my heinous one.
We pulled into the neighborhood – it was a lower-income area. Joe instructed me to park in one place and he’d walk up about a block or two to his friend’s house.
“Well, shucks, Joe, I can just pull up in front,” I offered.
“No, that’s alright, I’ll just walk; you stay here and don’t get out of the van, no matter what,” he said. I obeyed and at this point was in full-on denial about the sketch-o-meter going off in my head with a five-bell alarm.
Five minutes passed…
Fifteen minutes and someone was coming towards the van. My pulse quickened but then the moon reflected off Joe’s Burger King nametag and I relaxed. I noticed Joe was carrying a small lunch bag. He told me the friend he was looking for wasn’t home and we’d have to go somewhere else nearby. Joe directed me to another neighborhood and gave the same instructions – stay there, don’t get out of the van, he’d be right back.
After five minutes I wondered if I could figure out my back to the freeway. After six minutes Joe returned – this time with a friend;
was his name. Leon had a certain lope to his walk and a scent about him I would in later years learn was Crown Royal. Leon sat in the seat behind me and Joe told me we had to go to Leon ’s garage to get his tools. As we drove, Joe and Leon were talking about people they knew, asking where they were, what they were doing, and in-between anecdotes Joe gave me directions. All the while, it sounded like Leon just couldn’t get comfortable because he kept on shuffling around in his seat. Leon
We arrived at the garage and, of course, it was locked up and
didn’t have his keys. By this time it was nearing . Leon suggested that Joe should try to jimmy the lock; Joe looked at me then burst out into laughter louder than what the situation called for. After a moment Joe said he’d just go crash at a nearby family member’s house after asking me to take Leon to wherever he needed to go. I was actually about to protest when Leon told me he lived only a few minutes away. Joe thanked me for helping him out and Leon gave me some quick directions. Sure enough, within five minutes we pulled up in front of a mobile home. Happy to just have the whole situation done with, I watched Leon exit the van with what looked like a carry-on bag; in my haste to leave I didn’t realize that he didn’t get in the van with a carry-on bag… Leon
I was home by 3, snuck back into the apartment and quickly fell into a dreamless sleep, and, some have speculated, lucky to be alive. Personally, I think that’s a bit over-dramatic. I mean, I stayed in the van – I was safe; no worries.
Two days later mom asked if I had taken the van out late one night. She didn’t sound mad, but quite inquisitive. I told her indeed I had driven to
to see “a friend.” She asked if I had gone bowling. Oxford
“Yes. You see, my bowling ball is missing from the van and if you borrowed it I’d like it back, please.”
My mind raced –
“No, we didn’t go bowling – your ball is missing? You sure you didn’t leave it in the closet?”
Of course she hadn’t. And, well…sorry mom. J
Moral of the story, think about entertaining angels, sure, but be a little discerning, too.