Friday, May 11, 2012


Our price for a gallon of Regular gas went up to $4.07 on Thursday, up 12 cents in 2 days. A couple customers wondered if we were beating up on them for Mother's Day weekend? I told them to wait for Memorial Day....
I still don't get what's driving the latest price increase, but I don't really want to talk about that.
What I want to do instead is talk about the worst customer I've had in awhile....
I said awhile back that it's been a very smooth and mellow last couple of weeks? Well, that sort of came to an end on Thursday.
During Rush Hour I had a guy chew on me like I haven't been zinged in awhile. He left me shaking. He was scary.
The sun was out, a beautiful afternoon, and it was mildly busy. In the middle of it, a big red pickup pulls up to Pump #1. An older guy climbs out, runs his card, everything seems to be OK. After his card is accepted, I check on the computer screen to make sure he's getting his gas OK, like I do with everybody, because I don't like to get blindsided by problems.
The old guy takes a LONG time to start pumping his gas. WAY TOO LONG. I start thinking there might be a problem. Probably nothing major. #1 might've lost pressure -- happens all the time with our old pumps, nothing major. The guy might have to start from scratch, hang up and slide his card again, but no big deal. Happens almost every day.
I have another customer in the store, looking for drinks. Normally I wouldn't leave the cash register but.... I take another look.
The guy on #1 STILL hasn't started pumping his gas. About 30 seconds have passed, maybe a minute, and he's just staring at the pump.
So I go out there.
"Looks like you're having a little trouble with #1...." I start.
"Yeah," the old guy says, "when the hell am I gonna get some gas here? I keep pressing START and it won't start."
Sure as hell, he's got the nozzle in his gas tank, but the pump's still beeping at him -- something hasn't kicked in.
He's got the PLUS nozzle in his tank.
"Are you trying to get PLUS?" I ask.
"No, I want Regular, and I keep pressing Regular, but nothing happens!"
"That's because you picked up the PLUS," I say gently. I pick up the Regular nozzle, hang up the Plus, and put the Regular in his gas tank.
"Now how do I get the damn thing started?" he asks.
"Just press start," I say, pressing gently on the button that says PRESS HERE.
"It doesn't say START," he says. "I've been pressing everything, but nothing says START. You've got REALLY BAD, UNCLEAR DIRECTIONS here. And I pressed the Intercom button SEVERAL TIMES, but it doesn't seem to work either."
We've never had an intercom, but I don't tell him this. At this point I'm already backing away with my hands up, because this guy is ABSOLUTELY SEETHING. I thought at first that maybe he couldn't see too well and I'd unintentionally embarrassed him by hanging up the Plus and setting him up with the Regular he wanted. But it was becoming clear that he was going to complain about everything. He was already angry -- or at least distracted -- before I ever spoke to him.
And if he couldn't see that well, why was he DRIVING?
I kept backing away as the guy kept talking to himself. I went back in the store and the guy quickly finished pumping his gas. He hung up and drove away with a screech, and I looked at the computer to see how much gas he'd bought.
He did all that complaining for $10.19 in gas. Still not sure precisely what he was on about. He didn't seem to be drunk. Just VERY angry. Over Ghod knows what. But do people really need an excuse anymore?
I was still shaking because of how angry he got about not being able to see -- or apparently hear. Nothing could be simpler than our gas pumps: You slide your card, you pump your gas, you go away happy. But people have GOT to make it complicated.
After that, the folks who were rude and the folks who complained about the price didn't bother me too much. And the one guy who suggested that with gas prices like ours, we should toss in sodas for free -- I suggested he take that up with my boss. Does everybody say whatever pops into their head all the time?
I also reminded him we haven't yet come near the record high price from 2008 -- $4.59 for a gallon of Regular.
But there's plenty of time....
Can't wait for Summer! Can't wait for Memorial Day!

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