Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I Have Gas

Routine chores bring their own unique set of tribulations. Changing a light bulb often means risking a fall from a chair borrowed from the dining room. A trek to the dumpster with Tuesday's empty pizza box entails chancing an encounter with that mean possum who's been lurking in the area late at night. Even paying bills over the phone often means having to reschedule other activities while being told that "your call is important to us". We face any number of responsibilities on a daily basis -and that means dealing with risk.

No errand is riskier than getting fueling up the ol' sedan.

Take this afternoon. Fresh off of a long, rush hour-addlepated line of traffic, I pulled in to Carousal O'Lost Dollars only to encounter what appeared to be the equivalent of a Chrysler assembly line's worth of SUVs. I knew that this would be a fairly time-consuming affair, so deftly I purchased a newspaper and a Mountain Dew. (I can complete the crossword within eight minutes. A three letter word for "rotation duration" is "day", by the way.)

I was, I believe, working on 16 down when a car horn interrupted my reverie. With an apologetic wave I pulled up to the pump for some eighty-seven octane and, hopefully, a chance to wipe some of the season's last mosquitos from the windshield. Nothing was out of the ordinary, it seemed. We were all wiping our windshields while the cash meters continuously reminded us that we wouldn't be heading to Taco Bell anytime soon. In all, things appeared quite routine.

For some odd reason, we were all on the same page. The herd mentality carved deeply into our psyches suddenly gave us the sense that we needed to be anywhere else. I can't quite fully explain it, but we went from routine to pit stop speed. I was certainly in the middle of it all, recalling how Dale Inman wiped Richard Petty's windshield during Daytona 500-winning efforts of decades past. And let me tell you that if anyone was going to emerge victorious from this competition it was going to be me. While the cash meter on the pump clicked away, I saw an opportune time to empty the trash accumulated from the floor of the back seat. This caused a great deal of consternation among the competitors over at pumps six through ten; they knew that if anyone over there was going to exit the parking lot before I did, they would have to forgo cleaning out their back seats.

The nitty-gritty was closing in now; the pump informed me, by issuing an audible click, that my tank was full. That was my cue to press "no" regarding whether or not I needed a receipt. Ha!, I thought to myself. That ought to buy me a few extra seconds -perfect for getting to the exit before the guy in the four wheel drive pickup did, and let me tell you his truck accelerates quickly. I observed that when he almost ran over a pesky little "smart" car in his haste to get a good fueling position at Pump Three.

Victory was mine as I slid out of my slot and onto the exit ramp of the parking lot, followed by a Malibu whose driver managed a very respectable second-place finish. Knowing that I'd have first dibs at waiting for traffic to clear was, in some small measure, a victory. It meant not having to add to my to-do list waiting for Erma and her poodle to turn left. There was a sense that all was right with the world, and that I was free to focus only on getting chores done.

It also meant that the time pressure I felt regarding accomplishing chores was gone. Life was good.

Even so, as a result of the perceived competitiveness, I have gas.


  1. a task I avoid at all costs!!! (use a cane and make your riders fill the tank for you--some of them will even clean the floor boards too) wish I didn't really need the cane!

  2. That's a definite advantage, Dalmtndaze. Riders can do so much -fill the tank, wipe the windows, even run inside the store for a Mountain dew! I think the reason I'm usually alone when I drive is because my friends are afraid I'd make them run errands like that just because I could!