Sunday, November 21, 2010

Games People Play

I wish sometimes I was a better person. See I just found myself being knowingly petty. And passive aggressive. Oh I know. I can hear your gasps of horror.

As soon as I saw the blue Toyota pick up truck pull up to pump 5, I knew. As soon as I saw the grumpy old man I knew. I felt the plug pulled, draining away any semblance of good humor I was feeling just then.

This gas station still has the option to pump your gas first and then come in to pay. The only catch is is that there is a simple sequence that must take place before you can pump your gas. You take the nozzle from the pump and press which grade of gas you want. This tells me your intention. More importantly it allows me to activate the pump. You have to press the button. I can't turn the pump on otherwise.

So we have this ritual, he and I. It's a whole process. I see him pull up. He gets out of his truck and puts the nozzle in the filler tube. He looks over at me waiting for me to turn the pump on. I look at him blankly. He knows. He knows the deal. I have seen him almost every week for two years now. If I could turn the pump on before he pushed the button I would. I grow so weary of his game. I know I've mentioned him in passing in other posts. I've never told the whole story though. When he's done pumping and comes in to pay he throws his bills across the counter. He will always say, "I've got the change", and digs out a handful of coins from his pocket. He'll ask, referring to how much change he owes, "What is it"? I tell him. He counts it out one coin at a time. He slides, rolls, and bounces it toward me so I have to play goalie for him. Usually I just hand him the two or three dollars, say thanks and wish him a good night or some such.

Tonight I rebelled. He held out his hand for the change. I had the three dollars in mine. I paused. I tossed the money on the counter in front of him. He scooped the money up and turned to get something in the store. He handed me whatever it was and slid the three dollars toward me. I now had coins in my hand to give him. He held out his hand. I paused ever so slightly. I slid the coins toward him on the counter so they landed in a neat straight line that he had to pick up one by one. He didn't say a word. He didn't blink. He just picked up his change, turned and walked out. Did he even realize that I was so demonstratively disrespecting him? It doesn't seem so.

Yeah. Pretty evil huh? Why don't I just talk to him you might ask. Tell him, gently, how rude he seems and how it makes me feel? Maybe I will next time. It's not my "place" though you see. It would be rude and out of place, wouldn't it? I'm supposed to smile and nod and say thanks.

Every one has boundaries. Every one has some line in the sand some where. I guess the problem comes when desires bump into boundaries. Well needs versus desires really. Are you willing to relax your boundaries for what you desire? I have to believe Angie (the young woman from my last post) knew it was wrong when she started skimming from the register. She probably needed the money because she wanted something. It was just a game she was playing with herself. Justifying the means and all. Did I know I was wrong and being petty tonight? Umm, yes. My desire to show this customer how disrespect feels over rode my need to be better than all of that. You have to be mindful. No matter how strong your boundaries are there are always patches that have been rubbed thin making it easier for that line to be crossed either by you or to you.

very quickly I want to tell you of the futility of one of my chores here and then I'll let you go. Every Saturday night I have to stuff the Sunday papers. It starts with the inserts I stuff into the comics. Later when the body of the newspaper gets here I stuff the comics and inserts into that. There are thirty papers to stuff. As I do this I wonder how many papers we actually sell on Sundays. To be honest I hardly ever think about this place when I leave here Sunday mornings so I never think to ask when I come in and see some one who would know. Some one actually mentioned it to me the other day. The woman I was relieving a week or so ago was noticing the inserts sitting on the floor waiting to be stuffed. She said she would never understand why we get so many papers on Sunday; when she works Sunday nights she throws out 25 papers. Wow. I try to make sure that the papers are put together the same way every week. That when somebody comes and buys their paper it will be the same. What ever ritual that person carries out with their Sunday paper can be performed uninterrupted. Guess it doesn't really matter how I do it. I mean I'll do it the same way as before it becomes much more of a Zen exercise though.

Had enough for one week?

See ya next time. Peace.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! As the former owner of a convenience store AND a newsstand, I can sooooo relate to this post! And you didn't even go into the people who riffle through their Sunday paper ready to accuse you of it missing an insert, or the people who want a bag for their paper so they don't get ink on their hands (how do they read it?)....

    As for the change in the hand versus on the counter thing, it probably sounds petty to anyone who has never been a cashier, but it becomes annoying very quickly. Best way to "teach" this is to do just what you did, but the people who don't notice how rude it is when they do it to you also don't notice how rude it is when you do it to them. Poetic justice, I guess. It's their worldview.

    And the turning on the pump thing.... I guess you had to give him the hand gesture (that is, the how-to-start-the-pump hand gesture, not the other one.... LOL!)

    Convenience stores are such fun....ahh, the memories.....