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July 30, 2005 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Gas Station Madness!

Gas Station Madness

Yesterday I encountered a “little orange light moment”. We have all been there. You are driving along and suddenly your peripheral vision catches the tiny light in the dashboard. Almost out of gas! Although my husband insists that I can still go for many miles with the light on, I have never been one to trust that there is still gas in the tank. I am convinced the minute I try to drive a little further with the light on, my car will sputter and die. Of course I will most likely be driving though the Yukon or Death Valley when this happens. So I try to keep the tank full.

Luckily there was a gas station just a few miles ahead. I could stop in, fill up and jet up the pass to pick up AJ. I was already running late so I had to be quick about it. I pulled the car into the Western gas station on Highway 24.

Here is a diagram of the Western gas station pump layout.

Looks normal enough, right?

I pulled in to the “A” position and filled up the tank. I paid with a debit card so I wouldn’t have to run inside. RECEIPT? YES/NO. Yes. I pushed Yes. The pump clicked off when the tank was full, and I returned the nozzle to its place. The small screen on the pump said “Printing Receipt”. I waited. No receipt. I waited some more. Still no receipt. I decided to hit the “Cancel” button…I didn’t need a receipt that bad.

As soon as I hit Cancel the screen asked me to INSERT CARD. Huh? Did I just cancel the printing of the receipt? Or did I just cancel the entire transaction? A small sign with a mean looking policeman photo glared at me. DRIVE-OFFS WILL LOSE THEIR LICENSE, the photo cop told me. THINK TWICE BEFORE NOT PAYING FOR GAS. Well I think I paid for my gas, but suddenly I wasn’t so sure. Crap. I was running late. But I didn’t want to LOSE MY LICENSE. I ran inside the gas station.

Three people were in line ahead of me. The guy in the front of the line was paying for a gallon of milk with nickels and dimes. He had a handful of change and was being very meticulous about picking the right coin and setting it in front of the cashier. The cashier was staring wistfully out the window, waiting for the man to count out the exact amount of change. Occasionally the man would grab a coin from the pile and replace it with a better coin. Aaaaugh! I was really running late now.

Finally I got to the front of the line. “I just need to know if I paid for my gas,” I told the cashier. “I didn’t get a receipt.” He clicked a few buttons on a strange black machine and said “Yep, you’re good.” Great! I hastily walked out the door and got into my car. I started the ignition. That is when I discovered I had parked in the Danger Zone:

There was a huge truck in front of me…one of those heavy duty farm trucks that had dual gas tanks. And the person in front of me was filling both tanks at the same time. I couldn’t back out, because there were people behind me now. I started saying some colorful things loudly. I think the guy with the truck heard me, because suddenly he noticed that I was stuck. He went between pumps B and C and attempted to move a heavy trash can to one side. It was my only chance to escape the Danger Zone!!

Unfortunately, as soon as the farm truck dual pump man moved the trashcan to the side, a big red truck pulled up to block the last hope of escape. Even though I was obviously trying to manuever out, he blocked the exit anyway.

The farm truck dual pump trashcan mover guy then started cursing on my behalf at the red truck man. The red truck block path man then noticed my predicament. He decided he would back up to let me through but then suddenly someone pulled up behind him.

Clearly this was not a good time to be at the Western at Highway 24. It seems that a whole bunch of little orange light moments were occuring at the same time. These kind of things only happen when you are running late.

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