“You little scoundrel!” yelled my irate customer.
“I’ll have your job for this!” she boasted angrily, marching toward the station.
From outside I could hear the upset Mrs. Chan’s raised voice and after a couple of seconds realized I was still holding the gas pump spout in my hand.
Without missing a bitching beat Mrs. Chan and my Co-op Fuel Station manager Bill Young made a hasty retreat out of the station and a bee line for the pump I was now why not wiping down.
“There!” the Swedish accented probably mail order bride Mrs. Chan pointed directly at me and then to the digits displayed on the revolving numerical spools.
“Check that total, Bill. There is no possible way in hell it could be correct!”
The pump numbers showed exactly $9.00 for twenty gallons of gasoline.
Her big Pontiac held twenty two gallons empty. (took me twenty minutes to find out at the library afterwards)
“There is NO WAY!” She poked toward me and waved her finger in Bill’s face for emphasis, “No way this little fellow put $9.00 worth of fuel into this car!”
“Come off it…!” she mocked, cocking her head sideways with her face just inches from Bill’s face.
“Is a tank of fuel now worth half as much as our bloody car, Bill…?” she query pummeled him mercilessly with both hands firmly grasping her hips.
“No uh, it’s not, Mrs. Chan,” said Bill with resignation, “the young fella likely forgot to ring off the previous customer’s purchase on the pump.”
“Let’s adjust your bill to five dollars instead of nine,” offered Bill, arm beckoning the wicked bitch to precede him to the station.
“That’s not enough!” barked the rabid Mrs. Chan, staring directly at Adolf Hitler; gas jockey. “I want this robber reported…”
“Alright. No problem Mrs. Chan. I’ll see he gets a spanking… Now, lets go inside and settle up.” Bill assured her, holding the station door open.
Mrs. firestarter Chan paid and hurriedly left without making further eye contact with me while I got busy sweeping up the tiny remnants of someone’s budding manhood, scattered by a summer breeze over the gas pump island.
Before long manager Bill strolled out into the bright afternoon sun to join me, tapping a filtered cigarette on a freshly unwrapped deck of cancer sticks as he approached.
“Yep, the old bitch really had you going there for a minute aye Sport?” Bill said as he laughingly cupped his hands to light his smoke.
“Fucking Mrs. Chan. That cheap bitch pulls the same move here every fucking month but her husband’s restaurant buys so much shit from the grocery store that we have to play her stupid little game,” Bill confessed, shaking his head and chuckling as he exhaled ten minutes of his life.
“It’s just a game Sport… don’t take it personal. Mrs. Chan unloads on every new kid. You ain’t nothing special.”
Un-fucking-believable, I thought as I stood there, now leaning guilt-free on the broom.
Sacrificed for fucking groceries? This is what my burgeoning credibility was worth…?!
“Mmm hmm,” Bill giggled thoughtfully while dragging himself to half mast and nodding his head at a passing vehicle, “God damn Mrs. Chan.”
He took a long, purposeful drag off his cigarette and habitually ground the remaining big butt into my freshly swept concrete and sauntered otherworldly back to his office.
Swallowed in some kind of time warp or something, I stood there staring at Bill’s big butt and thought real, real hard about Mrs. Chan.
I wasn’t playing their fucking game.
Thank you, friend.