Five-er-up

The Cast in this sordid tale

Bobby, the gas station attendant
Bobby, the gas station attendant
Me in a cowboy hat
Me in a cowboy hat | Source
Crispin Glover as George McFly as the cashier
Crispin Glover as George McFly as the cashier
The owner, who could only see money
The owner, who could only see money

Five-Er-Up

By Justin W. Price

I had this new fuel additive, which meant I needed to put some gas in the car. I pulled into the Shell station across from my apartment. It was always a touch more expensive than the other stations, but its convenient and I frequent it for top offs. I was having somewhat of a cash flow problem so I was only going to get five dollars.

“Hey Bobby” I said to the gimpy gas station attendant. There was something wrong with Bobby, but not sure what. His left leg was slightly longer than his right and he didn’t seem to possess much in the way of brains. He had this distant way of staring at you and tended to tell you things about his penis or his social life that didn’t seem altogether necessary to the job of pumping gas. He was young; maybe twenty one or two with dark hair and a scraggly goatee. Nice kid, fairly attentive.

“I’ll need five, no receipt.” This is what I usually got. I didn’t fill up there. In addition to the higher prices, there were no rewards. I put in the fuel additive, handed my card to Bobby and repeated my desire for five dollars’ worth of gas.

“Five dollars, no receipt,” Bobby said as he inserted the card into the pump.

I went into the store to buy sunflower seeds. I came out and drove off. I got a quarter mile up the road and noticed a full tank of gas. I only had a quarter tank when I stopped at the shell and knew five dollars—at least not at 2012 prices—would not fill up the car. I turned around and went back and drove up to the same pump and saw that over thirty-seven dollars in fuel had been pumped!

Certainly, I had the fuel in my car and would be more than willing to pay for it, had I asked for a fill up. I hadn’t and we didn’t. “Bobby, I asked for five dollars!”

“I thought you said five gallons?”

“Even if I did, there’s over ten gallons showing on the meter. I said five dollars. I can’t cover thirty-seven!”

Bobby punched the pump he was working at and cursed. “Not again. That’s the third time this week!”

“No need to get upset, man. You made an honest mistake. No need to worry about it I don’t wanna get you fired or anything. I’ll just go inside and explain the situation.” Several years prior, I handed a gas station attendant $10 cash and he proceeded to fill up my car. When I noticed the meter pumping well past ten, I leapt from my seat and told the attendant to stop the pump. He did, but it took him awhile and I ended up with a full tank. I went inside and spoke to the cashier, told him what happened and, since I had the cash on me, I split the difference with him. The hazard of not being allowed to pump your own gas in the state of Oregon is that this kind of stuff does happen on occasion.

I expected a similar recompense in this case. Perhaps that was my folly.

I explained the situation to the cashier inside. I told him I couldn’t cover that dollar amount and if I could I’d be happy to pay for at least some of it. Certainly the mistake was theirs but I also did have the gasoline in my car. Bobby came in, nervous and agitated and explained his case to the cashier. Bobby left saying “This is why I hate working Fridays.”

The cashier stated the obvious: “He’s not the brightest tool in the shed.”

The owner was called and spoke to the cashier and then to Bobby. Bobby insisted he repeated “fill ‘er up” three times before pumping. He didn’t. Bobby also failed to inform his boss what he told me, about the frequency of him making the same mistake He didn’t mention my frequent patronage, or my ruddy handsomeness. Understandably, Bobby’s goal was self-preservation. And, in this economy, who could blame him? At the conclusion of that call I was informed by the cashier that the owner was siding with the employee and there would be no refund.

My fists clenched, my lips pursed and I began to pace. I was essentially being called a liar. Moreover, I had never heard of a company putting the needs of an employee ahead of those of a customer, especially when that employee admittedly has had similar issues in the recent past.

“You mean to tell me I’ve been getting gas here for a year, spent hundreds of dollars, and I chose today to run some kind of scam to get free gas?” I seethed. I’ve been known to return to stores with excess change that was given to me, or to return a bag of fast food that contained French fries I did not order nor was charged for, and now I’m being questioned about a gas purchase? I understand, it’s an easy system to scam, and the gas would certainly be utilized, but I really didn’t have the funds to cover that much gasoline. More importantly, my integrity was under attack. It’s really all I have to barter with in these times of economic woe and want.

“No one’s calling you a liar.”

“Not directly, no.”

“I’ve only been here a month. I can’t override the owner, but you can talk to him when he’s here tomorrow.”

“What good will that do? He chooses to believe an employee who doesn’t know his ass from his elbow. You yourself said he wasn’t smart.”

“I don’t know what to tell you.”

“Well, when that charge comes back, you won’t get paid, and neither will I. No one wins in this situation. And I’ll never come here again.” I got in my car and drove off. My instinct was to flip Bobby the bird or say something snarky to him, but I didn’t. He’s a simpleton and, and I suspected his owner would likely fire him for a mistake like the one he made if he had sided with me instead of him. I let it go, but I won’t go back.


Check out my book:

Thanks for Reading.

A FREELANCE WRITER, HONORS STUDENT AND GOVER PRIZE FINALIST, JUSTIN W. PRICE (AKA, PDXKARAOKEGUY) CONSIDERS HIMSELF A POET FIRST AND FOREMOST BUT IS ALSO A SKILLED SHORT STORY, BIOGRAPHER AND HUMOR WRITER. HIS POETRY COLLECTION,DIGGING TO CHINA, WILL BE RELEASED FEBRUARY 2ND, 2013 BY SWEATSHOPPE PUBLICATIONS AND IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE ON AMAZON AS WELL AS YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER.

HIS WORK WILL ALSO BE FEATURED IN BEST NEW FICTION (2014 EDITION), AND HAS APPEARED PREVIOUSLY IN THE RUSTY NAIL, EFICTION, EFICTION HUMOR, THE CRISIS CHRONICLES, THE HELLROARING REVIEW AND THE BELLWETHER REVIEW. HE CURRENTLY SERVES AS MANAGING EDITOR OF EHORROR MAGAZINE AND THE BRIDGEONLINE NEWSPAPER. HE PREVIOUSLY SERVED AS THE POETRY AND CORRESPONDENCE EDITOR FOR THE BELLWETHER REVIEW.

HE WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER, EDITOR, AND GHOST WRITER, AND IS WORKING TOWARDS HIS PH.D. HE LIVES IN A SUBURB OF PORTLAND, OREGON WITH HIS WIFE, ANDREA, AND THEIR LABRADOODLE, BELLA.

PLEASE VISIT HIS PROFILE PAGE FOR MORE INFORMATION. THANKS!


In this situation, what would you have done?

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Regardless of what you would do, was the author justified in his actions and indignation?

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Comments 14 comments

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Kimmie, I've noticed a severe decline in customer service over the past several years. It's terribly disheartening and discouraging. Thanks for reading!


Sunnie Day 3 years ago

Great story...terrible situation, horrible service..guess the old adage the customer is always right does not hold true anymore...


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Cyndi. It seems a lot of business owners now-a-days are pretty skilled at losing customers. Customer service has just gone down the craphole. It's very upsetting.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Dah, when the owner of the store refuses to back down, I think it tells you everything you need to know. i didn't think I would win an appeal from my credit card company so i decided that he could have my $35 and lose out on the hundreds of dollars I would have likely spend their in the future. His loss.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 3 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Rasta, i took a few artistic liberties, but, yes, this is what happened.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 3 years ago from Georgia

Really bad experience and one strange store owner, not to side with his customer. Great story. Should be shared with every business owner and titled "How to Lose a Customer."


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Where I live we have to pump our own gas. It is hard to remember when we didn't and I don't know how I would react to your situation. If I were faced with the situation, I guess I would state my case to the manager. If I did not get satisfaction I would then call my credit card company and explain the circumstance. They would treat it as a dispute and investigate. At that point I would abide by their decision.


rasta1 profile image

rasta1 3 years ago from Jamaica

Great method of writing. Did this really happen ?


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks so much Audrey. I'm glad you appreciated this piece on multiple levels... and thanks so much for sharing!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

Nicely done Justin both in terms of the event and the writing--I love your writing style, especially at the beginning of this piece--just so well done--sharing socially!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Barbara... I have no idea. Customer service to me is number. I've given my services away on occasion to help keep a customer happy. It's pretty amazing that this situation happened, IMHO.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thomas, as much as I enjoy fire, I have very little interest in attending prison for arson. And, yes. It is good to be a writer. In fact, I should send a copy of this to the owner of that shop :-)


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 years ago from USA

The world just isn't what it once was. What happened to," The customer is always right." This just wasn't fair to you. I've had some situations like this happen to me and I handled them the same as you did.


ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 4 years ago from Reno, Nevada

Justin,

OH the awkward penis/social life discussion with a simpleton at a gas pump! I tell ya...if I had a dollar...

Well my friend, you got screwed! I noticed on your poll that you didn't have "burn the place down after hours with some type of blow torch" so I just clicked "something else".

A bad experienced turned into a compelling story...it's good to be a writer, huh?

Thomas

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