The World Is A Magic Place

April 15, 2008 at 5:14 PM | Posted in Journal | 1 Comment
  I remember the days of the old neighborhood gas station.  I think.  It may just be that I remember the episodes of Andy Griffith that had the old filling station, and Goober Pyle working there.  My childhood was often in grainy black and white.
  But the old gas station where you ran over the air hose thing and it rang a bell, and they’d come out and fill it up for you, and gas was 12 cents a gallon–those days are pretty much gone.
  I’ve been to lots and lots of gas stations in my…27 years of driving.  There are some I like, some I don’t like, and certain things I expect.  The evolution of the gas station over the years with technology is pretty impressive, and yet we still have to get out of our fucking car in the cold to fuel up.  And, the cars still don’t fly–something I remain bitter about.
  Nowadays, the gas stations are something of a luxury resort.  You can get gas, food, alcohol, and–if you say the magic word–sex in the bathroom.  Clean and well lit and friendly.
  And sterile. 
  They have no personality to them anymore.  Our society is so homogenized, and the gas stations were the first thing to go homo.  Bland and saccharine, they completely lack style and personality.
  I mean, for instance–we have QT here:  QuikTrip.  These guys are good.  Fast and efficient.  It seems their whole premise is to get you to not stand in line long, and I appreciate that.  Of course, if you have a problem–which, while statistically is highly unlikely, it is nevertheless a functional reality of our world–then you are SOL because they still want to get you through the door and out of their face.  It’s a fine line between efficiency and indifference.
  Down the main drag, they recently opened a new gas station….after closing one right across the street from the QT.  A Philips 66.  You know, I don’t know if they call it a petro mart, gas n go, quik shop, kwik stop, gas it up, pump it up, hump a lot, travel store, travel more, diesel whore, gas n more–And I don’t give a shit.  It’s clean and bright and efficient and sterile looking.  But Looks can be Deceiving.
  I would always just get gas and leave, and never associate any emotion with the gas station.  But now, I’m….I have a relationship with this place.  An emotional tie.  It’s addictive, like playing with a hornet’s nest.  Actually, it’s nostalgic, like when I was living with my old girlfriend (and Christ, is she old!) who was a raging bipolar alcoholic with quite possibly a multiple personality disorder:  I never knew what the hell to expect.
  Rolling the dice with karma…
  A few times I go in late at night, and the dude behind the counter starts telling me his life story.  Same dude.  Different story every time.
  Occasionally in the morning when I’m in a hurry, I need gas and it won’t pump.  Instead of waiting for help, I do the only rational thing and leave, going to another gas station and wasting more time, and increasing the perceived amount of time the first station wasted.
  Lately I’ve been hitting it in the morning, and I’m getting to know the people.  Not by name, because I don’t give a shit.  There’s Ugly Manager Chick, Fat Dumpy Blond, Craggily Old Lady, and Indifferent Bitch.  Generally one or more of them is outside smoking, and I always wonder if someone is in the store.  I could stuff shit down my pants and no one would know.  ("Is that a 2-litre in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"  "Both!")
  If I’m lucky enough to get Indifferent Bitch, I play games with her.  She obviously hates her job and/or her co-workers (and I probably would to), and thinks she is too good for this job.  Another vibe I get from her is that she feels she is too pretty to be working there.  She is pretty, but she’s not all that.  Just, relatively speaking, she’s the cutest.  In a cage full of monkeys, which one is the smartest?  And does it matter?
  Sometimes I try to act MORE indifferent than her.  I throw my money on the counter and look away.  I sigh when she sighs.  I roll my eyes.  I stare at the ceiling.  Sometimes I play Opposite Day, and try to be overly cheerful and happy, and talk and talk and talk the entire time.  This is harder to do than it seems.  Coming up with filler isn’t easy.  I usually have a theme that I start with, but this is all improv.  I generally have a point to make and a word or line that I want to finish up and walk out on–it’s a carefully crafted performance piece.
  And sometimes I don’t say anything, but just stare right at her nose.

  This morning I stopped for gas.  I went inside to pay, and handed the cashier–Fat Dumpy Blond–my debit card.  The debit card from the bank I work at.  As the transaction progressed, she commented, "Oh, this is the first card I’ve seen from Pulaski Bank.  Is that a good bank?  Are they nice there?"
  I said, "Oh, yes.  Very nice.  Very friendly.  The best."  I then opened my jacket to show her my shirt, which has the bank logo on it.
  She said, "Wow, they gave you a shirt, too?"  She proceeded to tell her co-worker that Pulaski gave me a shirt when I opened my account.  "That’s great," she said.
  I said, "If you open a money market they wash your car.  When I got my mortgage, they found me a babysitter for the weekend."  She was starting to not believe me.  I continued to pour it on.  "I opened a CD and a got a massage."  Her eyes widened. I leaned in.  "I work there."
  She put her head in her hands.  "Oh my God, I am so blonde," she said.
  But I said, "We are the place to come if you want a mortgage.  No one is better."  She said she was going to be refinancing soon.  I said, "Come to us.  We are the best.  Our people are the best."  She nodded, and said she would.
  I should earn a commission.

  Okay, and addendum.  I just went across the street to the bank for Bunny to make a deposit for her (cause she’s busy and important, and I am the opposite of those things.)  As I take care of the transaction and chat with the tellers, I have a slight sensation–my spider senses tingle–I get the faintest whiff of….chocolate chip cookies.  FRESH BAKED chocolate chip cookies.  I mention it to the tellers.  They confirm it.  "Yeah.  We bake cookies."
  Get the fuck out.
  No, seriously.  Want one?  She goes in back (And by the way, like the post office or any other place that has an "in back" this is just as mysterious.  I mean, I work there, but since I’m not a teller, I’m not privy to some of these secrets) to get me a cookie.  I said, "Seriously.  What’s the deal?"
  "Elfen magic."
  Don’t sarcastic people just piss you off?


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