Lionel Gonzaga got stuck at a petrol station for 45 minutes for failing to pay for his Dh95 petrol bill. He forgot his ATM and other cards at home and only had Dh70 with him. Four petrol staff pooled in their spare coins and cash to help him.
Dubai: A Dubai resident who forgot his debit cards at home expressed his gratitude to petrol station staff who came to his rescue after he ran short of Dh25 for his petrol bill.
Filipino resident Lionel Gonzaga was on his way to work at around 8.30am on Wednesday when he stopped at a petrol station on Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road to refuel.
“The indicator was already blinking so I had to do it then. After refuelling, I opened my wallet and found Dh70. My bill was Dh95,” Gonzaga, 34, a designer and blogger, told Gulf News.
Gonzaga said he decided to share his story after learning from the staff and friends that his experience frequently happens with customers. Sharing this reminder could save them from embarrassment or inconvenience.
“First of all, I admit it’s my fault; it’s not an excuse at all. But when you’re in that situation, you will look for possible solutions. I did that but to no avail,” Gonzaga said.
“The funny thing is this can happen anywhere. When you’re in a grocery store, you can return the goods and leave. I couldn’t do that with the fuel in my tank,” he said, adding he couldn’t leave the station for 45 minutes.
Gonzaga spoke to the manager to ask if he could use an e-wallet to pay his balance but his e-wallet was not compatible with the facility that the petrol station had.
He also offered to do an online bank transfer right there and then to the manager’s bank account or the company’s account. The manager declined for security reasons.
“He told me to just call my friends or my wife who can come to lend me Dh25. I said no one was available and my pregnant wife is resting at home because she’s unwell.”
Desperate to leave as he had a big meeting in the office, Gonzaga offered to leave his Emirates ID as guarantee that he would come back to pay for his Dh25 balance. The answer was no.
Three Filipino staff at the station volunteered to help him using their staff allowance card but the manager did not agree as it was not according to the station policy.
The staff finally found another colleague and pooled whatever spare coins and cash they had to pay off Gonzaga’s balance. The four did not ask Gonzaga anything in return.
Gonzaga was back on the road after 45 minutes.
“Thank you Diana from the coffee shop, Diana and Jeanine from the bakery and Jeremy from the tyre store for contributing your available cash, and for the willingness and heart to help. God bless you,” he said.
“Thank God for sending people to help me then. God really provides when you are dependent on Him. I am in awe that lower income employees would come to the aid of a stranger like me without hesitation.”
Gulf News contacted the petrol station but the manager refused to comment saying he was unauthorised to speak to the media.
A similar situation happened to Egyptian expatriate Ayman Mohammad last year. He had a bill of Dh100 in a petrol station on Oud Metha Road but he considers himself fortunate.
“I called friends to help but even before they came, I thought of giving my Emirates ID card and they allowed me to leave. I got the money, came back, paid my dues and left. There was no issue.”
What to do when this happens to you
Always be mindful and check your wallet before refuelling or buying something.
Keep Dh100 cash as emergency fund in your car. Use it only when you forget your cards and cash.
Have alternatives such as e-wallets, Nol cards, and explore other digital channels.