CONVERSATIONS. Dave the gas station attendant deals with rookies, drive-offs, and lunch breaks.

How’s your day been going?
I asked the silver-haired gentleman filling up my automobile; courtesy of Oregon’s quirky full service, no self-pump law.

he laughed.
Off in two hours. Today’s been better than last week. WAY better than last week.

What happened last week?
I asked; suspecting he was okay with my query.

So much stuff.
he said.
So much stuff. They stuck me with all the rookies. I guess they gotta learn, but...

I nudged.
What happened? What kind of stuff goes wrong?

You have no idea,
he said, correctly.
So much stuff. Okay, so I went on my 15-minute and came back, and they had already screwed things up.

How so?
I asked, glancing at the pump, which had stopped nourishing my tank at $39.01.

Well, for one, there was a thirty dollar sale on the board and I said ‘where’s the money?!’ And the rookies said ‘we don’t know.’ So it was a drive-off.

I said.
Does that happen much?

You have no idea,
he said, shaking his head.
Okay, it’s probably not people driving off like thieves, it’s usually somebody, like a rookie, getting distracted and having multiple customers and getting confused over who’s paid and who hasn’t and opening up the pump without somebody having paid. And then they leave and don’t realize it.

I see.
I said.
And this happens frequently?

You don’t even know.
he said.
Actually not all the time. But when it does, it’s paperwork that’s gotta be filled out. I don’t like that.

You think these rookies have potential?
I asked, watching a twenty-something male gather trash from the receptacles.

Aw, they’ll be alright,
he said, pulling the nozzle from my tank and ripping off the receipt with practiced flair.
I just tell ‘em: ‘when I go on my hour lunch, I’m off the clock. Understand? Off. The. Clock. So don’t screw anything up!’

I said.
You don’t leave ‘em your cell phone number if anything goes bad?

he laughed as if I’d just suggested he give me a couple extra free gallons.
I’m on my hour! Off the clock! I just tell em things better not be screwed up when I get back!

A lot of things to screw up, it sounds like.
I said.

So much stuff.
he said.
You have no idea.


*remember to smile and thank your gas station attendant!*