512 Words

Stupidity---the Great Equalizer

M. Stanley Bubien

In this job, you learn one thing up front: people are basically idiots. I'm not discriminatin' either---black, white, yellow---it don't matter; stupidity's the great equalizer. Learned it at my first job, Quickie Mart. Still true here at 7/11.

Let me give you some examples. See if you agree.

Just a week ago, some old fogy in a suit stood in line for five minutes and when he got to the counter, he says to me, "I need help pumping gas."

He'd paid earlier, so I ask, "Didn't the pump reset?"

"Oh, uh," he stammers and looks around, rubbing his bald white head like it's a cue-ball, "I'm not terribly sure. You see, I've never pumped gas before. I was hoping you could do it for me."

"Sir," I tell him, "We're a self-serve station."

"Yes. Yes. I know, but I was on empty, and, you see, I had no choice---"

I held up my hand. "The instructions are on the pump."

He glanced down at his suit. "I see. I see. But I would appreciate the help."

I almost says, "What part of 'self-serve' don't you understand?" But my manager came in and gave the guy a hand. Phew!

Okay, another time this black guy asks me how much for a candy bar.

"Fifty-nine cents." I says, reading the price right off the one he's holdin'.

"Yeah," he says back. "But that sign reads 'Two-for-one.' How much is a single candy bar."

I go, "Hmm," and take the candy bar. I make sure I look it over good, and when I hand it back, I point to the price, "Fifty-nine cents."

He scowled hard but bought it, taking his second for free. Bummer. Thought for a minute I'd be havin' me a candy bar on him.

Now I saved the worse for last.

I ring up this Mexican. He buys a Big Gulp, pays for his gas, and leaves. No problem, right? Suddenly, he's back.

"Ay, man. I lock my keys in the car."

I look at him without saying a word.

"Got a hanger or somethin', man?"

I give it to him straight, "No hangers. We're a gas station."

"What?" he says a little peeved. "You no had nobody locked outta their cars?"

"Happens all the time. But we don't got no hangers. And frankly, it ain't my problem."

The Mexican looks surprised, but says, "okay," and takes off.

About fifteen minutes later there's bunch of honkin' outside. I go check. The Mexican's car is blockin' five whole pumps---and he's just sittin' there!

"Hey!" I says. "What're you doin?"

He shrugs, "Sitting on my car."

Unbelievable! "You call someone about your keys?"

"Nah." he tells me. "Don' know who to call." Then, hands behind his head, he lays back against the windshield.

Another car honks. I give 'em a look and run inside, grabbing a stick from the back. The Mexican and me slide it into his barely-open window and unlock the door. He drove off without thankin' me or nothin'.

Sheesh! Like I said, it's the great equalizer.

Copyright ©1997 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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September, 1997
Issue #17

512 Words