Dolores Marotta has lived in the same house in Roseville, Michigan since 1989. But when her husband died in 2015, she could barely afford the cost of gas needed to get to doctors appointments and the grocery store.
She got behind on her taxes and has just recently come close to catching up on the payments to the city. She has other worries, as well. A house next door to hers was torn down by the city, but a tree stump was left and the roots are now going under the foundation of her home, cracking her floors. “I don’t have thousands of dollars to have this fixed,” she said.
Though Marotta, 73, doesn’t have too many places to go, she said she has to get to the grocery store every few weeks and the doctor every couple of months. She only puts what gas she can afford in the car that her daughter gave her to use, which also has problems – it leaks oil and power steering fluid.
Every so often, she drives east on Martin Road into St. Clair Shores and stops to fill up at the closest gas station to her house, the Citgo at 28500 Little Mack Ave.
“She doesn’t come often. She’s always pays $2.00, $2.50, a couple dollars-worth of change,” said owner Seth Kazz, whose family has owned the station for 20 years. Before 9 a.m. on August 31, Marotta pulled into the station and made her way slowly into the store like she had in the past, putting a few dollars on the counter and asking Kazz to put that on the pump to fill her car.
Moments earlier, a local police officer, Todd Bing, had just started his shift, and he stopped by the gas station to get something to drink, when Marotta walked in. “She had a cane. She wasn’t moving very well,” Bing said. “She put like a dollar bill or two, crumpled up, and some change on the counter, and she asked for that to be put on her pump. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s not right.’”