My attempt to find balance with the sweets, and the sours, of life.
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.
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.
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.
“Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be...’ - she always called me Elwood - ‘...in this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”~Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey
I am a stay-at-home mom who is coming to grips with the fact that my children are growing up, and that is bitter sweet. I have several pets who understand me including a couple dogs, some beautiful pigeons (yes, pigeons), some chickens who boss me around, and a mourning dove who I believe is God's little whisper to me from heaven. I was a lawyer before I got really serious and became a mom. I love to knit, write, cook, and to take good care of my family. We struggle with my daughter's Reactive Attachment Disorder, and hold hands very tightly sometimes while we withstand the high tide of her challenges. Through it all, I am blessed to have a husband who is the corner piece to my puzzle.