Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bargain at the Pump

So I had to get gas the other day.

It was one of those emergency situations brought on by poor planning and masterful procrastination. 

I was running late and on fumes.  I needed gas enough to get to the school to pick up my kids and to get to the much more reasonably priced gas stations a bit further from my house -- but in the entirely wrong direction of the school.

So I was forced to compromise my principles and go to the gas station only blocks from my home.  A gas station I must pass when going all, but one direction for anything.  A gas station I swore off years ago due to their high prices and, worst of all, horribly chauvanistic attitude.  For example, whenever I would pump gas there, a man from the station would approach me and try to sell me a prepaid car service plan.  His angle of persuasion?  I should show my husband that I am capable of doing things myself (by prepaying for services we may never need?) and that this was a good plan for women.  (Way too many sexist assumptions in there to break out and list; you get it, I'm sure.)  Um.  No.  Not my kind of place.  However, this day, years after the last time I'd gone there, I was desperate.

I pulled in and found more than one pump out of order.  Nice place.  Once I found a working pump, I got out and resentfully shoved my credit card into the slot.  Only then did I realize that the screen on the pump was broken, making it impossible to see what I was agreeing to.  I could not see whether the previous person had paid or not.  It suddenly occurred to me that I may be paying for the previous sale, car washes, etc. as well as my own gas.

Angrily, I put in only enough gas to get me where I wanted to go.  Approximately $6.00.  Yes, I put in only $6.00 worth of gas.  I told you, I was desperate AND I detested that particular gas station.  So now the pay mechanism starts beeping invisible orders at me -- the screen was still blank.  I did my best to complete the transaction and then stomped into the station itself.

To the ancient, sexist-looking man sitting behind the counter as if he hadn't moved from there in years, I explained that the paying mechanism on the pump was broken and I wasn't sure whether I had paid and, if I had paid, how much.  The chauvanistic-looking man explained to me that the paying mechanism wasn't broken, it just wasn't working.  (See?)  I told him I could not see what I had paid for or what I agreed to.  He asked me if I had pumped any gas.  (Right on the ball, that one.)  He condescendingly explained that if I had pumped gas, that's what I paid for.  I sharply explained I had no way of knowing that or proving that since I did not even get a receipt for the transaction -- for all I knew, I had not even completed the transaction or could have paid for the order before me and who knows what else.

With a heavy sigh, almost imperceptible (but I was watching) eye roll, and disdainful look, he asked how much gas I had pumped.

"Six dollars."

He turned away from his by-hand receipt machine, looked at me tiredly, and repeated, exasperatedly, "Six. Dollars."

By this, I was supposed to feel foolish for the small purchase, I guess. 

Au contraire.

I smartly corrected him, "Actually, Six oh six.  ($6.06)  And I'd like a receipt saying that is all I am responsible for here today."

"Six. Damned. Dollars."

"No.  Six oh six.  Six dollars and six cents."

I got my receipt, along with a puff of frustration and a look that should have curled my hair, a good chuckle, a lucky number, and a story that has already become legend in my family.

All for $6.06.

Such a bargain.


Bobo Bun said...

Ha Ha - you tell him. I like this story. I'm a similar pain or is it feisty woman. Depends whether you're asking a misogynist or a man who admires women.

Lisa x

Renee' said...

See, I agree, Lisa. I think I can sense a chauvanist and then I become their worst nightmare, but I can also put up with a little banter and such if I know it's not coming from such a person, you know? So what world does that leave the chauvanist living in? I guess they're a self-fulfilling prophecy to some extent, only they don't even know it.

I'll take the men who like women anyday . . . they might even be able to sell me service cards . . . er, for cars!

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