Hey, I made up a new song to celebrate the holidays! Wanna hear it? Here it goes....
(This should be sung to the bass riff from Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" or Chic's "Good Times.")
Everything I do is wrong....
They don't even try to get along....
They can't tell right from wrong....
everything I do is wrong....
(Repeat this over and over and over until you just can't take it anymore....)
I just wanna thank the Academy for this Grammy for Best Blues Performance by a White Guy for 2011, and while I'm up here I'd like to thank all the people I've ever met in my entire life -- and ESPECIALLY all those great customers from that little convenience store in Port Orchard where I got my start. I couldn't have done it without you....
But seriously folks, the holidays are bringing out the absolute BEST in people. It's been a bad week. It's been a bad month. Everybody's on a short fuse, everybody wants everything RIGHT NOW -- and they don't understand when they can't always have it that way.
Just this week a Regular Customer bounced more than $70 in checks on us, I took one of them -- and though she's been in to apologize and explain why it happened (problems with the bank, lots of money missing from her account, close relative in the hospital with a life-threatening disease, etc. -- the usual) -- she has yet to repay a dime. Interesting how she suddenly appeared THE SAME DAY the bank let us know her checks had bounced.
You try to do something nice for somebody as a favor when they're down on their luck -- and they screw you anyway.
It got me thinking about all the people I've bought "free gas" for over the eight years I've been doing this job. It must be somewhere past $100 in gas I've bought for people by now -- usually folks who were down on their luck or needed a break or just had pocket-change and were trying to get 100 miles.
At say $5 a whack, that's a lot of people I've helped out.
And do you know how many have returned to pay me back or even just say Thank You?
In eight years.
Not sure what I expected. Wish I could say I did it totally out of the kindness of my heart -- sometimes I did. Some nights I did it just because it was a bad night and I was hoping I could shift my bad karma around the other way. Some nights I think it might have even worked.
One guy awhile back I lectured for five minutes about how I wasn't going to loan him any money because so many people had screwed me before ... and then I caved in and bought him $5 worth of gas anyway.
And he's one of the guys who came back and re-paid me!
I'm not a rich man, but at least once a week somebody hits me up. Why? Because I have a job and they don't? Because our gas station can afford it? You want to know one of the reasons gas prices are so high -- see Paragraph 2 above.
Most of them have sad stories. Everybody has a sad story. I've got a couple myself, I can relate. But yeezus.
Most recently, a few weeks back, a woman was trying to get from here to Seattle, basically a 50-mile trip. She poured $2.17 in pocket change out on the counter. I told her to keep her change for later and bought her $5 in gas. She'd been in the store before, I recognized her, and she said "You don't have to worry, I'm good for it, I'll come back and pay you back. I'll bet you hear that a lot, don't you?"
Yeah, I do.
"Well, I promise I'll come back, I'm good for it."
I finally got that none of these people should feel obligated to come back and repay me, and they don't. And it's not their fault. They got what they wanted.
I'm the problem. I'm an idiot. A pushover. A soft touch. An easy mark. Any sad story or uncomfortable situation, and I cave in. And they know this. Just tattoo it across my forehead: SUCKER.
At this point, I've been burned so many times I don't trust ANYBODY. Tonight one of our Regulars wanted to fill-up his truck before paying me with a credit card, and said it might cost over $125. I offered to set him up for an amount in advance on his card, rather than just switching the gas on.
This guy has always had a smart mouth, and I've never liked him much.
"I can't believe it," he said. "No TRUST, man!"
Goddamned right. I told him to take his credit card and hit the road. Then he stopped laughing and tried to work it out with me. "I was just flippin' you shit, man! It's nothing personal. I wasn't offended."
Yeah, I got that. But what about ME? Doesn't it matter that I get offended when people think they can say any old thing that pops into their head, hurl any abuse they want in the heat of the moment?
And why so much stress about a purchase transaction? It's simple -- you pay your money, you pump your gas, you go on your merry way. Nothing could be easier.
I try and keep it light and fun, even sometimes sing stupid songs to myself -- like the one above -- when things get tense. But I'm getting tired of getting yelled at, being run-over, trampled and railroaded every day. Just because people are in a hurry.
And they think it's NORMAL.
One more story and I'll stop.
On Thanksgiving night a young woman -- maybe 20 years old -- hit-up some guy in our parking lot to buy her some gas so she could get home for Thanksgiving dinner. He came into the store and bought her $20 worth of gas on a debit card. I told him it was a nice thing he didn't HAVE to do.
As soon as he left, she hung-up from pumping her gas, came inside the store, and demanded the rest of the $20 in cash ... which I couldn't do for her. As soon as she hung-up, the transaction was completed and the guy who bought her the gas was only going to be charged $10.
She didn't understand why she couldn't have the other $10 in cash. I told her why -- no money changed hands because the guy bought her gas on a debit card. There was no "change" to give her.
She kept demanding the money. She couldn't understand why she couldn't have the money. She was TOO STONED to be able to figure it out. I told her "You just got $10 in free gas, why isn't that good enough for you?"
She didn't like that. But she had a scam going, you see? There was something else she wanted to do with that other $10.
But it was busy. We were the only store open in the neighborhood. Our argument had backed-up half a dozen customers who were waiting to have their beer and other stuff rang-up.
I should have called the cops. If it happens again, I will. I hadn't done anything wrong. And I sure as hell wasn't begging for gas-money in our parking lot.
But the other customers were backing up and grumbling.
So, shaking, I pulled out my debit card and bought her $10 more in gas TO MAKE HER GO AWAY. She didn't like it, but she took it.
So I ended up paying for something nice that SOMEONE ELSE tried to do.
It's not the first time I've paid to make somebody GO AWAY, either.
But that's the first time that PARTICULAR scam was tried on me.
...A couple nights ago some idiot spent five minutes telling me how easy it would be to rob me.
"Do you spend a lot of time thinking about this?" I asked.
"No," the idiot said, "but there are people who are twisted like that."
I'm tired. This crap has got to stop. I shouldn't have to feel like I'm under fire every day. Like everyone's trying to get away with something. Like everyone's trying to take advantage of me. Like everyone's just waiting to rip me off.
But that's how I feel right now.
I've done my part for charity. I've made my kind-hearted donations for the greater good. Someone else is gonna have to do it for awhile. I'm done.
By the way, if you enjoy people complaining about dealing with the weird-ass pace of Modern Life, you should check out the folks at http://angrybitterandpetty.com/. From dealing with nosy neighbors to trying to make sense out of the Post Awful, these folks have hilarious, brutal, blunt and direct things to say, and they will make you laugh like an idiot. They have one post that catalogs a series of responses to a certain "Reality TV" show that is the funniest thing I've read in MONTHS. I laughed until my head hurt. That's a rave review. Check 'em out....