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. . .Once Upon a Time at a Gas Station

Kenneth is a rural citizen of Hamilton, Ala., and has begun to observe life and certain things and people helping him to write about them.

This is to Honor All Gas Station Employees--This is NOT an endorsement for any brand of gasoline.

My Minutes That I Measured

seemed like hours. I could have understood this somewhat nuisance if my car was in need for a major overhaul, but all I needed was a few bucks worth of gas. That’s all. And on another day I might have come away with just that, gasoline pumped by a smiling gas station attendant, but that dream quickly went up in smoke when I saw the attendant frowning at me as he slowly made his way to my car. I knew then that I was in for trouble.

Normally, I am a peace-loving guy. I detest violence. I do not like boxing matches or the Mixed Martial Arts fighting in a cage. And speaking of that, why are human fighters being treated as the cock fighters in a sleazy basement in some out-of-the-way in Miami? Just a thought, but it does make sense. Anyway, I went through 12 years of schooling without one fight. I am not boasting, just stating facts. But the fact remains that I hate violence of any kind.

What does my tirade have to do with (some) gas station attendants? Unless you were in my shoes sitting in my car on this furnace-like summer day, then just read and hopefully you will get a dose of real frustration.

The Gas Station Attendant

glared at me and I do not know why. He mumbled something about what it would be today and I humbly told him, twenty-dollars worth of gas, thank you. I wanted to prove to him that I was a good customer and did appreciate his hard work. And before I move on, in many gas stations across America, you only get self-service, so you see, when I pulled into this gas station, I thought that I was blessed to have a real human to pump my gas for me. I emphasize “I thought.”

The attendant stopped and asked, “how much gas do you want?”

“Twenty-dollars worth,” I replied and still speaking in an humble manner.

Then he looked at me, then he looked at my car, and before he pumped my gas, he started picking underneath his fingernails with what looked like to be a pocket knife—so I knew that I should be as good and cooperative as possible because he did not present a nice demeanor and holding a pocket knife and with those two signs, I began to get concerned.

 Vintage gas station attendant.

Vintage gas station attendant.

The Game Began

with him (not looking at me) still picking underneath his fingers and I just had to ask, “sir, what is your name?”

“It’s right here on my shirt! Don. Can’t you read?” he replied so sharp that I could have shaved from his remark.

“Sir, I am sorry. Did I do something wrong?” I asked trying to show compassion.

Don just glared at me. Now this, friends, was not a time for sudden moves. I had seen this scene played-out in a lot of movies and the end result was the innocent bystander receiving a butt kicking for nothing, but a gang of bullies getting their jollies from being able to beat-up another person just for the fun of it.

“Twenty-bucks worth, huh?” Don finally replied—still picking underneath his fingers. I secretly thought that with this much picking with his pocket knife, he must have the cleanest fingernails in town.

“Yes, sir. Twenty-dollars worth. Thanks,” I said and smiled.

“I know how much you said . . .so let me pump it. Okay?” Don snapped at me like a snapping turtle who lived in the wild.

But, Don, for some mysterious reason, walked half-way to the gas pumps and began picking his teeth with a toothpick that he had in the left front pocket. Plus, he was still picking his finger nails with his pocket knife. I was sweating like a rat being cornered with a rubber hose filling my den with carbon dioxide. I was tempted to ask Don if this were a good practical joke or just a normal way of doing business, but I sensed that Don was not a practical joke type of guy and with that pocket knife, I was the one who would receive the bad end of the knife so I just shut-up and let Don pick his teeth and nails.

Fifteen-minutes later, another car pulled into his station on the inside of the gas pumps. The driver was this gorgeous redhead and she was chewing gum as if the gum in her mouth would be the last on earth. She winked at Don and he almost ran to see how much gasoline that she wanted. But I was first and had been first for about half an hour, so what was this ritual?

I wasn’t so stupid that I didn’t know about gorgeous redheads and winking at a guy who got fast results, but I was slowly growing frustrated and even more frustrated as I heard Don and the redhead talking and laughing as he pumped her gas which happened to be a full gas. Then out of his mouth came something so out-of-candor and sense that I nearly fainted.

“Will that be all today?” Don asked very nicely.

“Yes, and thanks for the fine service,” the redhead said and winked again.

“Ohhh, that is okay. And there’s no charge for your gasoline. I just wanted to do something for someone else,” Don explained and glimpsed me as he wore a grin that would match any possum eating persimmons.

“Wy’ thanks, mister. I will be back again,” the gorgeous redhead said as she pulled out.

Gas station attendants were about one thing:service.

Gas station attendants were about one thing:service.

What was Don Going to do

now? I was about to say that I was here before the redhead and now you GAVE her a tank of gas? But being a cooperative customer, I kept my mouth shut.

Don finished picking his teeth, grinned at me as he put the gas hose into my car and quickly looked away.

Uh, oh! I thought. More senseless rituals. Don looked at me once more as he slowly walked to the gas pump to turn it on when he looked back and said, you did say twenty-dollars worth, didn’t you?

“Yes, sir. Twenty-dollars worth,” I answered nice as possible.

“You sure? I could pump you Ten-dollars worth as easy as Twenty-dollars worth, so what’ll it be?” Don said with a determined look.

“No, sir. Please pump me Twenty-dollars worth—I am kind of a hurry, sir,” I said being nice again.

“Well . . .k’, I will pump it. But where you going?” Don asked still not turning on the gas pump.

“To visit a customer in the next town and I hope that I am not late,” I said with a chuckle.

“Something funny, guy?” Don asked then sticking the gas hose into the back of my car.

I Stood and Listened

to the gas pump as it whirred and buzzed and I noticed as the amount of gas was about Eleven-dollars. Don seen the amount also and quit pumping.

What? I thought to myself. What is this guy doing?

“Sir, I asked for Twenty-dollars worth and the pump said . . .

(Don sharply interrupted)

“I KNOW what the pump says. You asked for Eleven-dollars worth and that is what you got!” he said with the look of death in his eyes.

“No, sir. I asked you several times for Twenty-dollars worth. Not Eleven and I am sorry that maybe you misunderstood, so please finish the gas purchase,” I almost begged.

Don Quickly Turned the Pump

on once more and now when the amount reached Twenty-dollars worth, the amount kept growing more and more.

“Sir! Now you have pumped me Twenty-five dollars worth. Why?” I said now very angry.

“Just making sure that I pumped you enough since you are traveling to another town,” Don said.

I took out my wallet to pay for the gasoline, but I was not going to pay for the extra gasoline that Don had pumped to make me look like a fool.

“So, are you going to give me a tank full of gas like you did that pretty redhead?” I asked.

“NO! And that is none of your business!”Don snapped. “That will be Twenty-five bucks!”

“I only wanted Twenty-bucks, not Twenty-five,” I argued.

“Hey! I do not know what game you are playing, but I have stayed here way past the time I was to meet a client and then you over-charge me? No. No, I won’t pay the extra five-dollars,” I said very sternly.

Then as if out of nowhere, another guy dressed in a white shirt and black pants walked briskly to where I was standing arguing with Don.

“What’s going on here?” the man asked.

“Well, Don, here pumped me Twenty-five dollars when I asked for Twenty and on top of that, he gave this redhead a FREE tank of gas not long ago, so you see my frustration?” I told the guy.

“Sir, let me explain. But first let me take care of this,” he said. “Don, how many times have I told you that YOU are NOT to pump gas here. You are here ONLY to clean-up the shop, empty the trash and sweep-up before you go home. You got that?” the man said in no uncertain terms.

The man handed me the extra Five-dollars and I thanked him. And apologized for Don causing me so much trouble. He went on to explain that Don was his brother-in-law and had suffered a mental break-down a month ago and well, my wife convinced me to hire him as to give him something to do.

Before I left, I asked him about the gorgeous redhead. He laughed and told me that the woman was his sister and what they did was kinda of like a game that they played. Then, and I do not know why I did it, but I handed the Five-dollars back to the man and told him to give it do Don, because he needed it a lot more than me.

So ended the half-a-day with Don and the gas station.

May 22, 2019_______________________________________________

Ready to serve you.

Ready to serve you.

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