I received my Exxon bill in the mail recently and, if I’d had dentures, they would have surely shattered all over the ceramic tile floor of my kitchen. I know what you are thinkin’. Geez, gas is propelling at warp speed through the composition shingles on our roofs again … ain’t that a cryin’ shame. But no, it was actually quite the opposite. My gasoline bill was exactly zero dollars. That has never happened before … and probably never will again. After studying the piece of paper for a moment, it finally hit me. Somehow I’d managed to travel all month long on one tank in the family truckster and not pumped another single ounce of petrol. Now that is beyond pathetic. I really gotta get out more. It may have been one of the reasons why hubby and I decided to venture out for a weekend of R&R. We only adventured downtown, but hey, at least it would require making a pit stop at the gas station before we left the suburbs. On Saturday afternoon, we had a lovely, relaxing lunch at a Tex-Mex grill just a couple of blocks from the downtown Metro rail. As Rick and I exited the restaurant, a very slight young lady topped off with a knitted hat and several layers of clothing approached my husband. She carried on one arm a large, white shopping bag. “Sir, do you have any money?” said the young lady in a pitiful tone with her hand out. Rick asked her two questions which confused the heck out of me and, I could see by the look on her face, the young lady. By now, I had clearly figured out she was down on her luck and probably homeless. From the nature of Rick’s questions, I surmised he had not. “Have you been shopping?” Rick asked pointing to the white bag which he could see was filled with clothing. “No sir,” the lady quietly answered. “Are you visiting our fair city?” he asked, pointing to the name tag that she wore with the name “Sonia” written upon it in red marker. “Oh, they made me put that on when I was at the shelter picking out clothes. I forgot to take it off,” she slowly answered. The lady and I both waited for Rick’s next move. “Well, I’m not going to give you any money. But if you are hungry, we can go back into this restaurant and I’ll buy you something to eat. Would you like that?” Rick asked. The young lady nodded and the three of us turned 180 degrees and entered the Tex-Mex grill. The young lady walked three steps inside with us and took a seat atop one of the tall stools in the almost empty bar portion of the restaurant. I stood on one side of Sonia and Rick on the other. It was Rick who handed her a nearby menu. Sonia seemed delighted as she took the index finger of her left hand and very daintily ran it up and down the menu several times never stopping to pause. I wondered if Sonia could read, or perhaps, was a speed reader. It wasn’t long before Sonia had made up her mind. “I’ll have chicken wings and French fries,” Sonia said with a large grin on her face. Rick and I both looked at each other with raised eyebrows. I knew bigger than Dallas what he was thinking … chicken wings and French fries weren’t on the menu. It would seem that getting Sonia something to eat might pose a bit of a challenge. It was then that the manager walked in our general direction from the other end of the long, wooden bar. Rick motioned to the dude and the two of them huddled a moment. The pow-wow ended with the manager nodding his head and Rick handing over some greenbacks out of his pocket. “The manager will get you something to eat,” Rick said to Sonia, as we waved goodbye and left the restaurant. “I hope the manager can come up with some chicken wings and French fries,” I said, as we walked toward our next stop … the Metro rail line. Yep, filling up the gas tank might be costing us all a bit more, but then there is always someone like Sonia to put everything in perspective. Dixie Frantz is a Kingwood resident and newspaper columnist for the past decade. E-mail Dixie with your comments at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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