Wednesday, 16 July 2008
By Herchel Newman aka Herm
In the course of a day, there are pitchforks little demons stab you in the side with. Ever felt them?
The wife and I get gas points each month for shopping at K's Grocery Store. Spend a certain amount of money in a month and earn twenty to fifty cents a gallon off the next month. This month it was only 20 cents, but hey, 20 cents is 20 cents.
I drove into K's gas station. I fooled around with the pump, following the instructions on the screen: Please wait while the pump is being activated. After waiting around too long, the lady attendant says over the speaker, "Sir, you have to prepay." I'm thinking, 'Why didn't you put that on the screen?'
This burly woman, who acted like she didn't want to be there, asked in a dry tone, "May I help you?" Never mind what I was thinking in reply to that question. I returned her flat irritated expression. Neither of us blinked. I asked if all the pumps were prepay. If not I wouldn't drive up to one that was anymore. "They're all prepay. Sir." It sounded like a slur.
My fuel gauge was on "E,” so I needed to fill up. I gave her my key chain with my ID card and my money while trying to block out how much it was going to cost at today's prices. She scanned my card then picked up my money - which was a $100 bill.
She knocked on the glass and pointed at the sign at the bottom of the window; No 50 or 100 dollar bills accepted. I wanted to take that gum out of her mouth and stuff it up her nostrils.
She just stared at me as she pushed my keys and cash back. I thought to myself, “This is just a test. Herchel, don't let the imps laugh any harder than they are right now.”
I glanced at my fuel gauge. The low fuel light had come on. I went to do some banking close by. "Will that be all sir?" the teller asked politely.
"Could you break this $100 bill?" I replied. That done, I proceeded to get on with the rest of my to-do list.
I didn't want to return to the "K" station, but I needed gas, it was close and I wanted to save my 20 cents a gallon. I pulled up to the pump. In the short time I was gone the price had increased 35 cents. The imps were having a party with BBQ and beer.
My jaws tightened and I had stopped breathing. From somewhere hellish I heard impish voices laughing and calling for more Brimstone Beer.
I stilled my mind, started to breathe deeply and took stock of who I was. I told God I was grateful to have some money to buy the gas and approached the window. I looked at a big rock on the ground, not knowing if it was real or imagined, but let it lie. I believe the evidence that I passed the test was, the shift had changed and there was no staunch, gum-chewing face to greet me, but a new face with a pleasant smile.
Our society is volatile with people who are utterly frustrated. We do what we can to diffuse what we can in our respective worlds. No more BBQ and beer.