So, I need to get gas for my car. I go to a gas station, and when I get out and open up the little flippy thing on the side there where the gas goes in, I notice that the gas cap is gone. This neatly explains why my car has smelled like gasoline this past week. No problem, I think, I will just go buy one, except I don't have much time and the auto supply store is across town and I really don't want to go so far out of my way. Gas cap or no, I need gas, so I put my credit card through the reader to start the gas pump, and the display doesn't respond at all. So, I try it again. Still nothing. It is as if I am invisible. So, I go into the gas station. The guy in the gas station, the attendant, is on the phone. He is talking on the business phone and as far as I can tell, his conversation totally legit, gas station business. He is not rudely taking a personal call on his cell phone or anything like that. None-the-less, I take an instant disliking to him. Perhaps it is because he doesn't make one of those reassuring gestures, that nod of the head that says, "I see you there and I wish to help you, and I will, as soon as I get off the phone with this asshole."
No such gesture. No acknowledgement at all. Yet, he sees me, that is certain. And although it is clear that he is aware that I am there and he knows that I wish to speak to him, he apparently can't find it in himself to do anything to let me know that he intends to eventually follow his job description and help me, the customer, who has done nothing at all wrong, other than existing. I stand and I wait. The loathing grows stronger.
The telephone conversation ends. He walks to the register and waits. No polite apology. No may I help you. No hello or pleasant inquiry into my well being. Nothing. He just stands there looking at me, waiting for me to speak. So, I take a deep breath and tell him that the pump won't read my card. He takes my credit card and wordlessly, he runs it through his machine. Since this is a real gas station, with a repair shop and everything, I decide, despite the fact that I hate this guy, to ask him for advice about my gas cap. I figure that if he is given a chance to flex his car know-how muscles, his hostility might transform into helpfulness. "Can you tell me the closest place to get a gas cap?" I ask pleasantly. He shoots back an answer, "The only place you can get a gas cap is at the dealers."
The dealers? The ONLY place I can get a gas cap is the dealers? WTF? This is bullshit. Seriously, due to my routine habit of leaving gas caps on the top of the car, I have replaced my gas cap umpteen times, and never at the dealers. Has this just happened? Has this so called person just looked straight at me, unblinkingly, and told me a boldface lie?
"That's not true!" I tell him, "You can get a gas cap at any auto supply store." And with that, he looks me in the eye and says, "You would know better than I would. I don't have a car."
He doesn't have a car.
I stare at him and say, "You work in a gas station and you don't own a car? That's stupid."
He glares at me. I glare back.
I take my credit card, spin around and walk out the door.
Out at my car, I pump my gas. Only, it ends up costing less to fill my tank than I was charged for on my credit card. Now I have a problem. I have to go back in the gas station to get my change. But I can't go back in. It will ruin my moment. I had the last word. If I go back in, that insult and perfectly timed turn on my heels would be all for nothing. It would evaporate. I consider the alternative. I could just drive away. It is, after all, only money. But if I leave, then Mr. Stupid-head would get my change as a $3.66 tip. I can't let that happen.
If I go back inside, I lose. If I drive away, I lose.
Now I really hate this guy.
Then I think to myself, "What would Jesus do?"
I am lying. That thought, the one about Jesus, it doesn't even cross my mind. Jesus doesn't have a car. It doesn't even make any sense.
What really happened is this- I go back in the goddamned gas station and I get my goddamned $3.66. The stupid guy and I are both civil to one another, which means that we say only whatever words are absolutely needed in order to complete the transaction. I take my money, turn around and make my exit.
This time, for good.
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