Friday, July 9, 2010

Tale of a Fill-Up

So I pull up to the gas pump, even though I’ve got a solid quarter-tank left, because I was raised to believe that you never know when you’ll see another gas station, so you might as well fill up now.

Words to live by, no?

Anyway, I then whip out my brand new Discover Card, having decided that it’s worth putting up with customer service that’s as responsive as a coma victim because they want to pay me five cents on the dollar every time I buy gas.

Hey, free money is free money, and the only thing I got for free when buying gas before was a headache from all the fumes.

So I slide the card into the little slot, and then the message flashes, “remove card quickly.” This gives me pause, because “quickly” is a relative term, and I wonder if Irving Corporation knows how many of their customers are geriatrics whose quickness has abandoned them.

I remove the card in what I think is a quick manner, but then I get the “error - try again” message. Not quick enough, apparently. I try again. Still no dice. Maybe too quick. So I try a nice, slow, sensual removal of the card, as if I were using tweezers to pull a splinter from a supermodel’s genitals. Then it cancels my transaction completely.

Okay, my fault for getting fresh. I wait a few minutes, then try again. Because you never know when you’ll have your next chance to get gas.

This time I shove the card in there, and I practically break the sound barrier, pulling it out with blinding speed. Yes, I smashed my knuckles into the car window in the process, but the machine finally accepted my card.

“Remove nozzle.” A necessary step, one I would hope most drivers would not need to be reminded of.

“Select grade.” This part, fortunately, is easy, as there are only three kinds.

Pasta comes in about a thousand different varieties, from Angel Hair to Ziti, and every absurd shape in between, including sea shells and wagon wheels. My underwear drawer contains boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, bikini briefs, trunks, and (sure, why not) the occasional thong, all with different designs and patterns.

Heck, Discover Card even offered me several dozen different options for my card design (I eventually chose Monet’s “Water Lilies” to honor my five-year-old daughter’s inexplicable interest in that French impressionist).

But when it comes to gasoline, your choices are Regular Unleaded, Unleaded Plus, or Supreme Unleaded. Period.

(At what point are we going to drop the “unleaded,” anyway? Gas with lead in it has been illegal for about 30 years. This is no longer a selling point.)

I select “Regular,” because a friend of mine who worked in the auto industry once told me that there is no reason to buy anything else, unless you drive a high-performance sports car or a military aircraft.

As I’m filling, I notice that this particular station is selling “CLEAN Regular Unleaded,” “CLEAN Unleaded Plus,” and “CLEAN Supreme Unleaded.” Thank goodness I stopped here; otherwise, I might have been filling my 13-year-old truck with 185,000 miles on it with the filthy gasoline from the station down the road!

The idea that any product derived from petroleum could be labeled “clean” was quite curious to me. Next they’ll be selling “clean” bait, “clean” loam, and “clean” gangsta rap.

I resolved to boycott any gas station advertising its fuel as “clean,” presuming any other station will accept my credit card without me tearing a ligament in my elbow.

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