Sunday, February 9, 2014

Full Service

In two states of the union, we have the great joy of only having full-service gas stations.  Most full-service gas stations are basically the same, you pull up, ask for your order, get your gas pumped, pay and drive away without pouring gasoline on your shoes or pants.

Yesterday, I was on my way to the CZW 15th Anniversary Show in South Jersey.  I left myself some additional time to make sure I arrived early after time I went to one of their shows leaving me standing in the cold for an hour.  Unfortunately, I failed to get gas for my car on Friday, which meant that I would need to get gas on the way.  This also meant visiting a new gas station.

For the first fifteen or so miles of my trip, all of the gas stations were on the wrong, and by wrong, I mean opposite side of the road.  Finally, I hit the Windsors, which one of the fancier areas of New Jersey.  I drive past a few gas stations, lamenting the price was 15 cents higher per gallon in this part of the state.  Eventually, I see a gas station and yield despite the inflated prices.

The set up of the station was odd, as there were two groups of gas islands, but people were only using the one furthest from the highway.  So, I pull up, turn off my car, roll down my window and pop the lock on the gas tank.  The fellow, since to use the word gentleman would be both misleading and debase the word, ambles over and asks what I want.  I want him to fill my tank with regular gasoline.

And nothing really happens, because a woman starts yelling at the guy pumping gas and he goes over to her.  I won't say walk, but more of a modified Humpty Dances his way over there.  I think at some point in time the attendant possibly suffered a stroke, which would explain the walk, but as we will learn, he is quite the operator and anything was possible at this bizarro gas station.

Two minutes pass before this fellow returns.  Having forgotten my order, he asks again, which was to be expected.  As soon as he starts pumping my gas, he goes off on a tirade about the other customer, wanting a specific amount of gas, rather than filling her tank, as if she was trying to order lobster instead of receive gas.  He then asks if I am local and not really thinking, I indicate that I'm not, as I thought he was just making conversation. He even puts his hand in my open window to express his regret, which I quickly shake to get him out of my car. 

$30.70 worth of gas was pumped into the tank.  If you are paying cash at a full service station, the custom is for the attendant to pump to the nearest dollar.  I can think of one time in the last ten years where the attendant didn't do so and he was pumping to the nearest quarter.  This hustler just said, $31.00 without doing the rest of the fill up, which if I am not mistaken is illegal, since he is charging me for a product and not providing it.  To me, it was thirty cents, so I was willing to let it go.  But I started thinking.  Let's say he does this to thirty customers a day, that's nine dollars he is skimming off the top.  That's $45 per week and $180 per month.  It's like he is getting his cable bill or more than a few handles of alcohol or maybe, just maybe some erotic daguerreotypes for his pleasure.  I still don't like being cheated, but such is the way of the world.

So, I hand our hustling friend a fifty dollar bill, since my bank's ATM practices this new form of hatred where it dispenses fifties instead of twenties.  While I understand inflation and limited spaces in ATMs, fifty dollar bills are still an oddity in the currency world.  No one ever talks about spending a Grant for a reason.  Expecting nineteen dollars in change, since I've given our hustler friend fifty dollars, he hands me two five dollar bills and four singles.  Now, I might let the thirty cents go by with no more than a friendly whatever, but five dollars is definitely in the complaint zone.  I inform our friend that he has only given me fourteen dollars and he takes back a five dollar bill and hands me a ten from a separate stack of money he had hidden away.  This leads me to believe this is a pretty standard trick for our hustler with non-regular customers.  

So, with most of my change and a full tank of gas, I drive on to the show, swearing to never purchase gasoline along Route 130 in the Windsors again. 

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