When driving in the car, the goal is to minimize the impact of any stops. Usually this means charting the quickest route to obtain one or more of the following:
On this particular trip, we needed all three. There was a gas station just off the road at the next exit, so we decided to grab that while we could. The plan was Sara and Ollie would use the bathroom while I pumped gas and then we’d find a place for Sara to get us coffee, where Evie and I would use the bathroom.
The best laid plans of mice and men.
5 out of 6 pumps at the gas station were full, and the 6th was broken. I circled around for a little while before parking off to the side waiting for one of the pumps to open up. Waited, and waited, and waited. Nobody seemed to be moving, or pumping gas for that matter. Just as I was starting to get annoyed, Sara and Oliver came back from the bathroom.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“The line is six deep for the woman’s bathroom,” replied Sara.
We sat and waited for a bit, but still no pumps were opening, and all the while the clock was ticking.
“Everybody’s waiting for someone in the bathroom,” said Sara.
“Why don’t they pull away from the pumps? Can’t they wait off to the side?”
“I don’t know.”
One of the cars was parked about 3 feet in front of the pump; not close enough to actually pump gas, but too close for me to get my car up there. He was just sitting there, his car running.
“Go ask that guy to pull forward a little bit,” I said.
Sara walked over to the car, Ollie in tow.
“Excuse me sir, can you pull forward a little bit?” asked Sara.
“Of course I can ma’am,” he said politely. He was like 100 years old.
Just at that minute another man comes running out of the gas station. “What are you doing, Dad? Don’t let them take your pump!” He shot Sara a dirty look. “I was just inside paying for gas on that pump!”
“Oh, sorry!” said Sara. “I didn’t know you were using it.”
From where I was sitting in the car I could see the man muttering to himself about what an idiot Sara was and giving her dirty looks. Now look, they weren’t even parked at the pump. How was Sara supposed to know what was going on? Did Sara, holding the hand of a 3 year old, really look like she was trying to steal the pump from this old guy? And if the old guy driving is not competent enough to say, “Actually, my son’s inside paying for this pump right now,” then is he really competent enough to be driving?
And STILL nobody had left a pump.
“My wife’s just inside going to the bathroom,” said the man at the next pump.
“There’s about 6 people waiting in line for the bathroom,” replied Sara.
“Eh,” shrugged the man, continuing to just stand there gazing off at the station.
Sara walked helplessly back and forth until FINALLY someone got the message and pulled over to the side so we could get to the pump. Then Sara pumped the gas so I could take Ollie in to the no-wait men’s room.
What’s the deal? Why not pull off to the side when you’re done pumping gas?
Of course I’ve sat at the pump while I ran inside. Honestly, most of the time I don’t. On the other hand, there are usually 15 open pumps. If I were occupying a pump when a gas station was that full, I would have so much anxiety about it that I just couldn’t stand it. I physically would not be able to force myself to be still. I would be checking my watch, twitching in my seat, checking the door for Sara, checking my watch again, pretending to get more gas, whatever I could do to pretend there was some reason I couldn’t move my car. These people? Cool as cucumbers, absolutely guilt and anxiety free. Who did I think I was, that I couldn’t wait for them? How dare I expect them to move a muscle, just because I wanted gas? They paid for that gas, they own that pump for as long as they want to use it.
Isn’t there anybody left in the world who cares even the slightest amount about anybody else besides themselves?