Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Trust me -- it's the holidays

Gas price -- $3.35 for a gallon of Regular.

The holidays at our little gas station hasn't been so bad. The Manager's Daughter (who closes the store on the two nights I'm off) and I got together and talked over the Overwork I've been bitching about here for the past few months. She says lots of stuff gets left for HER to do, too -- that sometimes when she comes in to work the place is trashed and nobody seems to think that's wrong.
So she's been trying harder when she knows I have to take over the store from her, and things are better, I'm not freakin' so much -- but I still have nights when it seems All Too Much and I grumble and snap at people. As usual.
The Manager's Daughter also has days when all she does is play slots or Candy Crush Saga on her cellphone -- so I'm thinking that half of her talk about all this work is just lip service. But what the hell....

Customers have generally been pretty cool this holiday season, though the usual Crazies are out. Awhile back I had some guy I'd never seen before ask if I could float him $5 for gas, and when I turned him down he seemed shocked:
"Dude, where is the love?!"
This past weekend, some young brunette stopped at the station, tried to set up her car for gas with two different credit/debit cards, got declined on both of them, then asked to use the phone. She called three friends -- nobody would come rescue her.
Then she asked if I'd "spot" her $5 for gas. All I said was "No." She got so angry she ran out of the store and left one of her cards on the counter, so I had to take it out to her.
I didn't say anything more, but I wondered -- why would anyone go out knowing they had no gas in their car and their charge cards were maxed-out? Unless they were running away from an argument, I mean?
I am so tired of being a sucker.
Dude, where is the love?
Awhile back, a stranger came in wanting to fill up and I told him I couldn't do that -- that I had to take his money up-front or could set him up with a charge card. He paused and grumbled while he dug out his cash. He threw $60 at me.
"That's OK," he said, "I don't trust YOU either."
"Yeah," I said, "but you know I'll be HERE all night."
There was no point explaining our policy or how many times I've been ripped-off in the past -- people don't want to hear it. But at least I didn't get in a fight with the guy....

The best one lately: A week or so back when we were changing shifts, a guy came in to put gas in his car. He had a pocket full of cash, but he was fumbling with it and his reactions seemed slow. As he stood fumbling with his cash, his eyes rolled back in his head and I thought he was going to pass out.
"Are you OK?" I asked.
"Whaddaya mean?"
"Your reactions are a little slow, and you're looking like you might fall asleep."
"I'm OK ... I've just been tattooing people for about 12 hours today."
"That'd probably do it. When's the last time you had anything to eat?"
"It's been awhile ... but I'm OK."
He wobbled outside, put his gas in his car. Then, after he was done, a couple minutes later he picked the nozzle back up again, as if he'd forgotten he'd pumped his gas.
I went outside. "Everything OK out here?" I asked.
"Yeah, it's OK," he said. "I just couldn't remember if I put Plus or Premium in my car ... but I'm OK."
Right. I went back inside. By this time the Manager's Daughter and I were talking about the guy. Then he came in.
"I think you're right," he said. "Maybe I need something to eat."
He grabbed a soda and some beef jerky, and as he again fumbled with his cash, he started wobbling. I thought his knees were going to buckle. He was going to collapse right at the cash register.
"Could you use a chair?" I asked.
"I'm OK," he said.
"You look like you're about to pass out right here," I said. "Could be a low-blood-sugar thing -- I've seen people pass out from that stuff right in front of me."
"I'll be OK. I'm just gonna go out and eat this in my car -- I gotta drive to Tacoma tonight...."
He went back to his car. Five minutes later he was asleep behind the wheel with the driver's-side door hanging wide open, his head tilted back. He was snoring.
The Manager's Daughter checked on him, got the license-plate number off of his car, and handed it to me.
"We can't have him driving like this," I said.
So I took a deep breath and called 911, and asked if an officer could come do a welfare check on the guy. They were there within 5 minutes, checked him out in the parking lot, did a field sobriety test. It took a long time.
Finally the guy came back in. This time his eyes were wide open and he was alert -- a big improvement.
"Hey, thanks for calling somebody to check on me," he said. "I appreciate it. And I'm feeling better."
"You're lookin' better," I told him.
Finally the cop came in. "I think he's coming down off of something," the cop said, "but I'll be damned if I know what. Nice guy, though -- very cordial, very talkative. But we startled him -- he didn't know where he was when we woke him up. He thought he was in Tacoma. He asked me 'Am I still at the gas station? What am I doin' HERE?'"
Finally the cops cleared him to leave and the parking lot cleared out. So that one worked out. But the last time I called the cops to do a welfare check on one of our customers, they ended up arresting the guy, and for awhile I was afraid that was going to happen again....

I'm not hoping for much in the New Year. I'd like to see people be NICER to each other. I'd like to see people not be so STUPID. Of course I'd also like to sell a few million of my books and win the Lottery -- but I'm not holding my breath expecting any of that to happen....
Happy New Ear! More soon....

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Gas price: $3.25 for a gallon of Regular.

OK, so to celebrate my 10 years of work at our little gas station, I went into work Wednesday after my two days off and dumped on my Manager about how I've been feeling overworked and taken advantage of lately....
Though the place has been in far worse shape when I've walked in for my Monday evenings, it was just bad enough on Wednesday night to get me going. So I laid-out the basics....
And she WENT OFF! She IMMEDIATELY started running around doing all the stuff that I usually whirl around like a madman doing for my first two hours after coming back from my weekend -- she filled-up the ice machine, stocked sodas, filled-up the cappuccino machine, bagged ice -- she spent an HOUR stocking the cooler!
By the end of it I was just wishing that she'd leave, because I knew I'd made her furious.
On her way out the door, she gently asked that I make her a list of all the things that don't get done while I'm gone, and she said she'd address them. Even though some of those things reflect badly on her daughter, who works afternoons and closes the store on the two nights I'm off.
So I started making her list -- I've filled up both sides of a 3x5 index card so far. But I'm sort of scared to give the list to her. Because I don't want to make her furious all over again.
Still, I wonder if she learned much from spinning around doing all the stuff that stresses me out when I first come back into work. She must have at least seen that the work was THERE to do, that everyone had left it for me....
My roommate thinks my Manager just got pissed because she actually had to do some work for a change.
As for me, I pretty much gave up on the idea of maybe getting a big surprise cake to celebrate my 10 years on the job, or a card from my co-workers thanking me for my support -- "We couldn't have done it without you," etc. Or any kind of surprise, really.
And I don't think that Employee Of The Month award is gonna be coming my way anytime soon, either....

So that night pretty-much sucked. But Thursday night was better. And Friday night was a breeze, somehow -- despite it taking me 70 MINUTES to drive the 10 miles to work, through THE WORST TRAFFIC I'VE EVER SEEN AROUND HERE. I ended up 25 minutes late. I could have WALKED to work faster.... Who knew the Veterans' Day three-day weekend was such a huge holiday, huh?
Still using mostly old Motown and '60/'70s Soul/R&B music to keep me moving and motivated at work. Working especially well lately have been The Temptations' "Get Ready" and "I Can't Get Next to You," Junior Walker and the All-Stars' ESSENTIAL COLLECTION, practically everything by Stevie Wonder, Booker T and the MG's VERY BEST OF -- oh, and Kansas's "Miracles Out of Nowhere" and "Questions of My Childhood," and Tommy James and the Shondells' "Sweet Cherry Wine," "Ball of Fire" and "Crystal Blue Persuasion." And I hated "Crystal Blue Persuasion" for YEARS....

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I'm just the janitor here....

Current gas price: $3.35 for a gallon of Regular.

On Nov. 7, I'll mark 10 years of working as a cashier at our little gas station. I don't want to think about that too much. At least I have a job....

The past month I've mostly spent just cleaning up after everyone else. I come in to work, stock the cooler, clean the restroom, stock sodas and energy drinks and beer, vacuum and sweep, fill up the ice machine, clean the cappuccino machine, take people's money, try to stay awake, bag ice, mop the floor, and go home before it gets too late and I start collecting too much Overtime.
Most nights, I seem to be the only employee stocking the cooler, stocking sodas, cleaning the restroom, filling the ice machine, emptying garbage cans, bagging ice, stocking beer, cleaning the cappuccino machine.... Clearly I was put here to clean up after everyone else.
A talk over the weekend with our newest employee revealed that when she was trained she was told NOT to stock energy drinks or sodas or beer -- that I'd get mad at her if she did. Really?
WELL. I may have felt that way 10 years ago, when I wanted people to rely on me and not worry about whether I'd hold up my end. But now that I'm a tired, grumpy old man I'd welcome any employee who wants to do more than they're absolutely required to. I ain't as young as I used to be, do what you like, be my guest, knock yourself out.
But it's never gonna change, and there's no way to address it through my boss without her saying "We all work hard, we're all overworked, we all do our share...."
Time for a raise? Ain't had one in three years. And with business slowing down for the Winter, now seems like a REALLY bad time to ask....
Thank Ghod for old Soul/R&B tunes to get me through the evenings awake and in one piece. Songs by Junior Walker and the All-Stars, Booker T and the MG's, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Spinners, Marvin Gaye and my comedy brothers in Parliament have gotten me through the last month -- keeping me moving and motivated and happy and even laughing sometimes.
The rest of the experience has pretty much been shit.
Last week I got chewed-on for the first time in a couple of years by a guy who was trying to fill-up and the gas pump shut him off at $50. That'd be enough of an investment for me, but it wasn't enough for him. He came in and asked what our guidelines were. And I tried to explain it. But you know the type -- he knew all the answers up-front. And he kept cutting me off after a couple of words.
"I've got $4,000 worth of credit available," he said. "Why would your pumps shut me off at $50? I called my bank -- they said it had to be you guys because THEY didn't do it...."
Well, I didn't do it. It's automatic. Well, it's a security thing. Well, maybe you don't have as much available credit as you think. I used to get one of my charge cards declined whenever I tried to buy a snack at work and didn't have $75 in my account to cover it. Well, I don't know. I'm just the janitor here.
The guy said he wanted to talk to my Manager, and I told him her name and when she'd be back in to work next.
And of course he never came back. They hardly ever do. That's probably a good thing.
Shit, for $4,000 he could have bought half of what was in the store. He could have bought most of the gas we had available when he tried to fill up.
But I don't know. It's over my head. I don't know what's going on. I'm just the janitor here....

Sorry, this one's a bit of a downer. I need a change. I'm gonna go shave and cut my hair and take a shower and do the dishes and cook dinner. Anything to stop feeling this overworked and tired all the time, like I never leave the store. As soon as I leave, it feels like I'm right back there again. And it's only eight more months 'til vacation!
Hoping you are NOT the same....

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Crazy people

Hey, Summer ain't over yet. The Crazy People are still out.
The following incident didn't happen to me -- it happened Friday to our Morning Girl at the store. In response to which she should be writing HER OWN blog. But that's not gonna stop me from using it here....
It's just before 10 a.m. The Morning Girl is just about to turn the store over to our Afternoon Girl.
Suddenly a car screeches into the parking lot, and a woman in her 50s jumps out and starts taking pictures of the Morning Girl's car with her cellphone. The Morning Girl notices, wonders what's going on.
The woman in her 50s comes inside. "I want your name!" she demands.
"What's going on?" the Morning Girl asks.
"I want your NAME!" the 50s woman repeats, then comes behind the cashier's counter and starts digging through paperwork, taking pictures of everything, looking for something with the Morning Girl's name on it.
She takes a picture of the Afternoon Girl's shift report and deduces that the Afternoon Girl's name is the name of the Morning Girl.
"Oh, so your name is...." the woman says.
The Afternoon Girl -- who is pushing 200 pounds and isn't easily intimidated -- tells the deranged woman to get out from behind the counter, but the woman is on a mission. The Afternoon Girl then gets on the phone to the police.
The crazy woman gets in the Morning Girl's face. "Let me take your picture!" she demands.
The Morning Girl -- who is nearly six feet tall and shouldn't be easily intimidated either -- backs away and turns, heading for the back room. The 50s woman grabs her arm and tries to spin her around, trying to get a shot of her face.
The Afternoon Girl is on the phone, telling police there's a deranged person in the building.
The 50s woman gets a couple hair and maybe profile shots. Apparently she's satisfied.
"That's what you get for STALKING ME!" the woman shouts. "Now you're IN for it, 'cos THE LAW'S gonna be after you!"
"What the hell are you TALKING about?" the Morning Girl says. "I've never SEEN you before in my whole LIFE!"
The 50s woman leaves the store, climbs in her car, and screeches out of the parking lot. The Morning Girl gets a partial license-plate number.
When the cops finally arrive, they spend hours talking to the two store employees and trying to reconstruct what the hell happened. They take the partial license-plate number, which they think might be enough to help them track down the deranged woman....
...This is the best one in awhile, and at least it didn't happen to me. Compared to this, my Friday night was a breeze. All I had to compete with was people dropping drinks all night and spilling them all over the floor.
It should be interesting to learn if this woman was just deranged, or if her meds ran out, or if she was high on meth, or what. Could be any of those things. And we'll probably never know....
Until Fall officially kicks in, my best advice is keep your head down and your eyes open....

Gas price: $3.69 for a gallon of Regular.

Monday, August 19, 2013

On vacation

Gas price: $3.77 for a gallon of Regular.

This last week has been a bitch.
Following behind my Manager and her Daughter three days. Cleaning and stocking the store when it seems like no one else does.
Pricing and stocking a normal-sized beer order -- and getting laughed at when I asked our beer-distributor if he could bring the same-sized order for the Labor Day Weekend.
Running my ass off, as usual. Ain't got much ass left.
The Biker Chick returned to work one last shift -- and was only $36 short on her cash at the end of this one last go-'round.
On Sunday I followed The New Girl, who was worn to a frazzle by the time I got to work -- with the cash register messed-up and gas pumps locked up and alarms going off telling us we were almost out of gas.
But she survived it, and the store was in no worse a shape than I'd expected.
And she was only $5 short. And she was worried she might get fired -- ha! You have to mess up pretty badly to get fired from this place....
And I might have. On Saturday night I suggested that one of our Regulars could help me out if he wiped off his shoes before he came into the store.
And he freaked out!
I'd delicately suggested this before. The guy is a little older than me and works in a pizza parlor, and every night I've worked lately he's been in around 9 to pick up a six-pack on his way home.
And every time he's come in, he's left little white footprints all over our dark rugs on his way back to the beer section. And all the way back up front to the cash register.
This usually happens right after I've just finished vacuuming. Or when the store's really busy. And it makes me look like a lazy slob.
It bugged me.
So I lightly mentioned it a couple times before, and he didn't Get It. Or he laughed at me.
So on Saturday I was more direct. I said it would really help me if he could wipe his shoes on the mat outside the front door before he came in.
And he blew up.
"I've got construction guys coming in my place and wrecking it ALL THE TIME, and I've never said SHIT to THEM because they're CUSTOMERS!" he shouted. "Your Management is gonna hear about how you feel, and you won't be seeing my face again!"
And I was thinking: Maybe if you DID say something to your construction guys, you wouldn't have to come in and buy a six-pack to de-stress when you get home each night.
And: If you know how that feels, why would you do it to someone else? Because it's your turn to dump, because that's what makes the world go 'round?
And: Is it really that big a deal to you? It would take FIVE SECONDS to wipe your feet....
Hey, I've told painters and construction guys to wipe their feet, and they're still coming back....
This isn't just where I work -- it's my home for eight hours a day, and I care about how it looks, and it pisses me off when people trash it or don't clean up after themselves.
Besides, I'm tired of being fed shit by people and being told all I can do is swallow.
If she had been around, my Girlfriend would have joked with me -- as she sometimes does when I need a nudge -- that I was being a Pompous, Arrogant Asshole. And maybe I was.
After he left, the customer behind him told me not to worry about it: "That guy's a prick; I've seen him in other places...."
That helped, and I thanked him. And I didn't even start shaking, like I sometimes do in confrontations with customers.
Maybe it's a good thing I'm on vacation for the next nine days. Though folks generally haven't been terribly behaved or overly demanding during the past week, it was a long week anyway, with lots of people out and about and the busiest Friday and Saturday nights I've had in awhile. And I worked an extra month before taking vacation this year, while store management figured out its personnel issues....
So, was I out of line? You decide. And let me know below....

Sunday, August 11, 2013

It just gets better....

Apparently we have a new Regular at the gas station.
She's a menace.
She first came in last Thursday night. Kind of short, long dark hair, probably mid-to-late-50's, a little wrinkly, fingernails all made-up. She grabbed a six-pack of beer and reached for the fresh beef jerky in the display case....
Then she paused. She was already starting to back people up.
"...Everybody in town," I said. "But if I whacked the hands of everybody who reached in there, nobody'd ever come back."
They were right in front of her, but she couldn't see them. I handed them to her.
Then when she tried to pay, she got her PIN number wrong for her debit card. She got it right the second time.
"Next time I'll have you SIGN for it," I said. "It'll be faster."
I already suspected she'd had a few, but I was almost certain when she came back a night later. She grabbed another six-pack and was able to get out of the store with no major delays.
But she came back 2 hours later to buy gas....
...And shoved her debit card up the RECEIPT slot and into the gas pump's machinery.
Only the second time I've seen THAT happen in almost 10 years.
I knew SOMETHING was wrong when she stood there in front of the pump for so long. She couldn't figure out where to slide her card at, I guess. Then I SAW her force her card up into the gas pump.
She headed toward the store but I beat her to it. I went out the door and said "You didn't...?"
"Ya got any tweezers?" she asked.
I had to ring-up a couple other customers, so it took me a few minutes to get outside to help her, and she probably wasn't too thrilled about that.
When I went out, it took me a minute to find the key that would open up the receipt box. Then I had to pull the whole printer mechanism out to see if we could MAYBE find her card.
Remember, this is me, The Blind Guy, trying to do this -- trying to do close-up work without his reading glasses.
I fumbled around with the printer for a minute, then tried looking down on it from above to see if I could get a better view. I figured her charge card was going to be gone forever, lost inside the innards of the machine.
But there was her card, an edge of it just sticking out of the top of the printer.
"You are LUCKY," I said.
She tried it again, using the actual card-slider this time, got her gas and went away, and she hasn't been back.
But maybe I have a new Regular to watch out for. Ghod forbid....

Our price for a gallon of Regular gas is still holding at $3.85. While I've seen prices as low as $3.75 (right across the street), I've also seen prices still as high as $3.99. Gouge while the getting's good....

Since The Biker Chick was let go, my shift now follows either my Manager or her Daughter every work-day. Which means I'm running my ass off. But only one more week to go before Vacation.
My Manager does at least stock the drinks cooler and does sometimes bag ice before she goes home. Her Daughter does as little as she can get away with.
So I do a lot of cleaning and stocking on my Monday night to get caught up with how the place was let-go during my 2 days off. And on my Tuesday I price and stock what is usually a pretty-good-sized beer order.
Most nights lately after closing I've been bagging ice and stocking the cooler before I count money and do paperwork. The only plus to all this is that I usually have no time left to mop the store.
I've mopped the whole store exactly once in the last month, and I'm finding other places to cut corners. Because I have no choice. Under our Owner's No Overtime Policy, I have to be out of the building by 1 a.m. So I get as far as I can, then I stop worrying about it and go home.
I've pretty much worn-out my good pair of Work Shoes, so I change shoes halfway through a shift. Most nights my feet ache by the end of a shift. Some nights I limp from the front door to the car, because my feet have HAD IT.
The Summer We All Wanted has at least kept most customers' moods pretty Up -- and I've basically been too tired to care. I AM tired. I've worked an extra month-plus before taking a vacation this year, because of our personnel shuffles. Now that we have enough folks trained to cover for me, I should be able to do my next week standing on my head.
And then a blessed 10 days off....
Long as we don't get too many more customers shoving their debit cards into the machinery....
In November, I'll mark 10 years at this job. Time to retire and write novels...?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Nothin' but a breeze....

Hey, don't want to jinx it, but work has been nothing but a breeze lately.
I mean it's still WORK, don't get me wrong, but I haven't had much to complain about. There haven't been too many crazies out, the workload hasn't gotten any worse. Either customers have mellowed a bit or I have. I can't even remember the last time I got yelled at. (OK, now I AM asking for it....)
All this even as we're knocking on the door of $4 per gallon for gas. (Although we're still holding at $3.93 if you pay cash -- surprised it hasn't gone UP yet....)
Maybe the Summer we'd all hoped for finally arriving has helped people's moods....
Anyway, that's why not much posting here lately. Not like I'm having a great time at work, but if there's no yelling or screaming or craziness, there ain't much left to write about. Or at least it's a lot more boring if I DO....
Our Afternoon Girl, the Biker Chick, worked her last day at the store on Thursday -- and to celebrate she was $25 short on the cash she supposedly took in during her shift. Just like a lot of her other shifts. Nice person and I'll miss her, but she couldn't use an adding machine to save her life. Things just didn't add up when she was around.
We have hired a new woman to work afternoons, & hopefully I'll actually get a week off before I keel over from exhaustion. That week off's supposedly coming toward the end of August.
I'll keep you posted, but that's all for now....

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Just a quick update -- our price for a gallon of Regular gas has been $3.93 since Wednesday afternoon. If you use a debit or credit card & don't get a discount, you'll be paying $4.01 per gallon. This allows the nationwide chain-station across the street to undercut us by 15 cents per gallon.
More soon. Summer continues -- hot here, but not too many Crazies out. (Hope I haven't just jinxed myself by mentioning it....)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Going Up....

Gas prices are going up again -- we bottomed-out at $3.69 a gallon for Regular over the last couple weeks, but have now gone up 20 cents in 3 days -- up to $3.89 per gallon as of yesterday afternoon, allowing the nationwide chainstore across the street to undercut us by 20 cents.
I wonder what the Oil Industry's excuse for this price increase is...? Amazing how they held off over the July 4th weekend but decided to do their recouping now...?
Otherwise, still running my ass off, still doing work for at least 3 other employees, life is grand. Counting down to Vacation, which is coming somewhere between 2 and 6 weeks from now. Wondering if it's time to ask for a Raise (haven't had one in at least 3 years), but doubt if I'd get it, even WITH all the running-ass-off activity....
& how are things in your little world...?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Taking one for the team

Gas price -- $3.79 for a gallon of Regular.

Had another wonderful Monday at work. It's always a pleasure to come back in after a couple days off and see that NOTHING has been done -- that sodas & energy drinks haven't been stocked, that nobody's tossed any ice into the soda machine, that the restroom hasn't been cleaned, that the garbage cans are full, the parking lot looks like an ashtray, nobody's cleaned off the counters, the floors have drinks spilled all over....
The only bonus was I didn't take over from my Manager. Instead, The Afternoon Girl was in -- my Manager took 3 days off! And The Afternoon Girl spent the whole time complaining about how tired she was ... and she was out the door by 6 p.m., so she could go see her boyfriend.
And the extra unexpected bonus was -- there was a beer order waiting for me in the cooler!
It was a small order, that should have been delivered two days earlier. Somebody had started pricing it -- they left a price list and a pricing gun in the cooler.
But they quit halfway through and just left it for me.
"Just leave it all for The Nazi, he'll do it all and clean it all up and make us all look good."
Yeah, right. Been doin' that for years.
Every organization has someone who does the lion's share of the work. They keep it going. That's what they're good at. That's what they do. That's what made America great, dammit!
But when I started working here I was told we were a team, and that if we all do our share, nobody will feel buried and all of the work will get done and everybody will be happier. That's how a team works.
What I want to know is, where's the rest of my team?
The Morning Girl does nothing more than she has to, thinks she's Management, and is out the door as soon as possible. If I started work at 4 a.m., I'd be out the door ASAP too.
You've already heard enough about my Manager, who pays lip-service to my concerns and then does what she wants.
The Afternoon Girl has stocked the cooler maybe twice in the six months she's worked for us. She claims to be claustrophobic. She always has somewhere else to be. But she does TRY....
My Manager's Daughter does the basics and goes home. Nothing more than required. But if she got paid for being on her cellphone, she'd be a rich woman by now.
And then there's me. Grumpy, worn-out, overworked, less dedicated every day. I don't expect my history with this place to be chiseled on my tombstone, but dammit.... Somebody needs to do some of the work! It's not that I'm tireless or fanatical, but shit .... Nobody's letting me off the hook. Nobody's giving me a break. Where are MY 3-day weekends...?
To make a long story short, I took care of everything, because that's what I do. Doesn't mean I'm happy about it, or that anyone will ever notice. Got the place cleaned-up and stocked, took care of that beer order, and The Boss didn't even have to pay me any Overtime. He's been getting off cheap with me for quite awhile now. Because I'm an idiot.
And tonight I have to go back and do it again -- with a BIGGER beer order!
The Afternoon Girl thinks all this leaving-work-for-others is a conspiracy by the Manager and the Other Two to get us to quit. They don't like us, and they want us out of here.
But then who would do the work?
I've got to talk to the Manager about this, before I go away for vacation and don't come back....

Monday, June 10, 2013

Was it something I said?

Ah, Summer. All the weirdos come out when the weather gets nice. People you never see the rest of the year suddenly appear as if by magic. Knew it would happen, it always does.
The Change Monger was in a couple days ago. This woman -- who always wanders through the parking lot looking for leftover change on the pavement, then checks the pay-phone & comes inside the store looking for more -- started coming in about 5 years ago. The first time I saw her, she guided her beat-up old car into the last parking spot at the far end of the lot, then stumbled in the front door long enough to ask if she could take a nap in her car, if that would be bothering anyone. I told her no problem.
She climbed back into her car ... and slept for THREE DAYS.
I was working when she finally stumbled out. "It's Friday, right?" she asked.
"No, ma'am," I said. "It's Sunday."
She didn't seem surprised. Then she asked if she could sit in the door and ask my customers for spare change. I told her No -- but she could sit on the back of her car and ask customers for spare change -- as long as I didn't see her.
I don't think she got much. Eventually she left.
She's been walking ever since, but she only comes out when the weather's nice. She'll wander through the parking lot looking for change, then come in and complain if there isn't any. Then she'll note down how much money she's found, then want to change all of her pennies for bigger coins, then trade nickels for dimes, dimes for quarters, quarters for dollars if she has that much. And she does this no matter how busy the store is, no matter how many people she holds up.
In five years, I've seen her buy ONE Lotto ticket with her change. This does not make her a Regular Customer, as far as I'm concerned. In fact, I think she's very IRREGULAR. I've had to get rude with her more than once to get her to move along.
She doesn't like me much. She thinks I'm grouchy. She might be right.
A couple days ago she came in after combing the parking lot, grabbing a pen and noting how much change she picked up.
"I'm not bothering you, sunshine," she said. "I'm not bothering you. How's your day going?"
OK, I said, waiting.
There was a pause.
"You cut your hair!" she said. "Why'd you do THAT?!"
"It's Summer," I said. "It's warm outside."
"Oh," she said. "That happens."
There was another pause.
"Is it a gay thing?" she asked.
"No, it's not a gay thing," I said. "And is there anything you WON'T ask?"
"Oh, I thought it might be a gay thing," she said. "My husband does that sometimes. But I'm not bothering you, I'm not bothering you, I'm not bothering you. Have a good day."
And then she was out the door, thank Ghod. Can't wait for her next visit.
Another guy, becoming a Regular, was in a couple times over the weekend, & I'm not thrilled to have him back. He bought a couple beers, threw his money across the counter as if he was throwing it to a leper, snorted snot up into his nose like a pig ... and then seemed offended when I didn't try to small-talk him. It didn't seem to me like he was the small-talk type.
"What's wrong?" he asked. "Long day?"
This is a question customers usually only ask if I'm grouchy. But I wasn't grouchy. I just didn't see any reason to try to charm this guy.
"I've only been here an hour," I said.
"Well, you've got a few hours to go."
"I'll manage," I said. "I always do." What's this guy after?
"Well, don't work too hard," he said.
"Trying not to," I said. "You either."
So it ended OK, but this guy has a history with me.
Late last Summer, the first time I encountered this guy, he came in to buy his couple beers at the end of his hard-working day -- & out of nowhere he started lecturing me about how sad he'd be if he ended up like me, about what a letdown it would be if "this" is where he ended up at my age.
"Yeah, I really like the sound of THIS," I said. "You don't know anything about me or how I ended up here. And you need to leave now."
And he did.
Was he just looking for a fight at the end of a frustrating day at work? Maybe. So I won't exactly be waiting for his next visit....
Ah, Summer. Really brings out the best in people....

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Down to $3.89!

Gas prices continue to drop -- we're now down to $3.89 for a gallon of Regular. Which is still too much, but....
Not much else to report, currently. Weather here is gorgeous, sunny & around 80. That should start bringing the Summer Weirdos out....
More soon, I'm sure....

Monday, June 3, 2013

Down to $3.95!

Our price for a gallon of Regular gas, as of 2 June 13 -- $3.95.
Prices obviously coming down now after that nationwide price-gouging effort over the Memorial Day Weekend. How are things in your neck of the woods?
More soon....

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Third Anniversary

Well now. This is gonna be fairly boring....
Been 3 years since I started writing this blog. And though things are far from ideal at the little gas station where I work, even though I still have my Moments, it's been quite awhile since I've yelled at anyone....
These days I get more hassles from my co-workers than I do from customers -- & even then it's mostly indirect, thoughtless passive-aggressive stuff -- them leaving all the work they don't want to be bothered with for me, etc. .... I'm sort of getting used to it.
Recently, being tired or sick at work has probably been a Good Thing. It's helped mellow me out a bit.
I don't actually have that much to complain about right now.
They are, at least, still paying me.
Gas prices didn't go through the roof for Memorial Day Weekend. Shocking. We're still holding at $3.99 for a gallon of Regular gas. Which is too much, of course, but still....
One of My Favorite Drunks was back in the store last week -- Sign Guy was in for the first time in at least a year. And he shorted me 35 cents on the price of his beer, too. Just like Old Times....
I don't really have anything surprising or shocking to say right now. Sorry to let you all down like this.
This must mean that I'm actually fairly happy these days. Or that at least I'm putting up with it all. And that's got to be Good News.
I'll try to do better next time....

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Gas price -- $3.99 per gallon for Regular.

When I got to work Wednesday evening -- my Monday -- the store was trashed. As usual.
Clearly the sodas & energy drinks hadn't been seriously stocked since I went home Sunday night, the ice machine was empty, the floors were a freaking mess, the restroom was hideous, nobody had swept the grunge off the rugs (we STILL don't have a vacuum cleaner) ... and my Manager stood around like everything was great.
Though I'm sure she noticed my almost-immediate whirlwind/crazy-man act that followed for the next 2 hours.
I'll give this to my Manager: She IS a Good Person, & she DID stock the cooler for almost an hour before she went home, bringing out a TON of empty boxes for product she stocked on the shelves -- confirming for me that no one had seriously stocked the cooler since Sunday night. (I brought out a ton MORE empty boxes when I stocked the cooler again after I closed the store.)
...Also confirming that she KNOWS what's going on. & is basically OK with it. Because trying to fix it will cause more trouble for her than just Letting Things Go....
Awhile back she passed down that Everybody's supposed to stock the cooler before they go home, so that The Gas Nazi doesn't freak out every time he comes to work & discovers Nothing's Been Done.
But it hasn't happened.
Oh, everybody pays lip-service to what I'd like. But nobody does much.
I don't expect the store to be Immaculate when I come to work -- I'd just like to see some evidence that the person I take over from has actually Done Something.
I didn't see much evidence of that on Wednesday. & I don't see much of it most days.
Four years ago, when we had 2 guys working at the store, I'm told customers used to come in mornings & compliment the morning & afternoon workers on how clean & organized the store was.
& my women co-workers -- including my Manager -- said: "Oh, The Guys do all of it. We don't do anything."
I have heard this story repeatedly.
Now I'm the only guy working at the store. & all the women leave the stuff they don't want to be bothered with for me.
I've seen this clearly, everybody knows it's happening, & they all figure the lip-service they give me will be enough.
The morning worker hardly ever stocks the cooler. The weekend fill-in has stocked the cooler TWICE in the 4 months she's worked for us -- usually she's in a big hurry to get out the door to see her boyfriend.
& the other fill-in -- my Manager's daughter -- is never around much later than 6 p.m. no matter what, no matter how large a beer order is sitting in the cooler waiting to be priced.
They're all Good People, pleasant to work with and be around, but....
This has happened to me repeatedly over the years.
Men generally work harder than women, no matter what the business setting.
Men get the job done. Women leave most of the work for others.
I wonder why nobody ever talks about this?
In 35+ years of work, I've had exactly one woman supervisor who absolutely knew what she was doing, had worked her way up through the ranks, hadn't forgotten what it was like, & was an absolute model of intelligence and reasonableness.
Over the same period, by far the 2 worst supervisors I've ever had were women -- one who was so busy trying to beat men at their own game that she treated all the men who worked for her like shit, couldn't say a nice word about any of them ... and another who repeatedly dumped all her work on the men who worked for her -- especially when The Job interfered with her Weekend Plans.
Don't get me wrong -- I LOVE women. They're almost always a joy to work with, a pleasure to be around. While guys can often be angry and brutal and crude.
But in my experience, this kind of work-avoidance lip-service behavior by women is pretty much normal.
Does it make me a sexist, for pointing out this Reality?
Very well then, so be it.
Anybody want to argue about this?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Prices going up for Memorial Day

By the way, our little store's price for a gallon of Regular gas went up to $3.95 on Thursday night -- a jump of 20 cents in the last couple weeks.
This after the media'd been reporting that demand for gas was below-normal, supplies were huge, & "experts" expected prices to start dropping toward $3.20 per gallon sometime soon.
Instead, one station in town -- which is notorious for being overpriced & which is usually the first to break the $4/gallon barrier -- is already at $3.99 for a gallon of Regular. (Up to $4.14 as of Saturday afternoon!)
& we are 25 cents per gallon more expensive than the nationwide "cheapo" gas chain across the street.
& so much for all that. My opinion is the oil companies are lining us up for $4 per gallon in time for the Memorial Day Weekend & the Official Start Of Summer. Your opinions?
BTW, Memorial Day will mark 3 years since I started keeping this ranting, raving journal. & I have so much to show for it.... Passed 50 posts here with that "10 Commandments" list below. So, indications are I might just stick with this.
More soon -- I'll keep you posted as gas prices go up-up-up, just like last year....
What are gas prices like in your neck of the woods...?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Gas Nazi's 10 Commandments

Here are some basic, brutal truths that have been repeatedly hammered into me over 9-1/2 years as a gas station cashier. We'll keep them brief.
* Don't be a sucker. Anyone who wants to "borrow" enough money for gas to get home is never going to come back to repay you. ... OK, maybe 1 in 20 people will actually come back to repay you. MAYBE. Besides, nearly everyone has more money than you do. DON'T be a sucker.
* Customers will yell at you. Because they had a bad day. Because their job sucks. Because their marriage sucks. Because their life sucks. Because they don't feel good. Because they're angry or depressed. For no reason at all. Even if you're doing your Absolute Best. Get used to it.
* Anyone who's trying WAY TOO HARD to be friendly is Up To Something.
* Anybody trying to pay for their purchase with a Food Stamp card probably has a huge wad of cash in their wallet. And more money in their bank account than you.
* Anytime you "help" a drunk pay for their beer, you'll be "helping" pay for their beer forever....
* Damn few of your co-workers are going to do their share of the work. Most people only do as much as they need to in order to get paid -- and no more. Get used to it.
* There's no point arguing with customers about prices. If something's mis-priced, always go with the cheapest price. They'll be happier, and you'll avoid a punch in the mouth.
* People will mess with you all the time, every day. They'll push you, they'll test you. They'll question your honesty, your work ethic, your sexual orientation. It's what they do. Get used to it.
* No amount of money will be enough to put up with the BS that happens every day in this job. But it could be worse -- in Idaho and Wyoming, people get paid only $5.92 an hour to put up with this crap.
* The guy with $25 in pennies, nickels and dimes in his pocket will ALWAYS come in exactly 3 minutes before you're supposed to close. He'll want to count out all the change by himself, to make sure it's right. And he won't want to buy any gas.
* There's no way to win. If you're happy at work, people will tell you you're TOO damn happy. If something makes you angry, people will tell you you're too grumpy -- and they'll never forget.
* Are your employers paying you on time? Just Get On With It.
Any additions?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Favorite Drunks

I've been dealing with drunks at my job for 9+ years now. Sometimes they've really pissed me off -- like they have no shame, and no sense of boundaries. Lately I've been thinking they've mellowed a bit. Or maybe I have. Anyway, here are some of my "favorites" from over the years....
* Burger thrower -- One night while my son was at the store working on my beat-up old truck, a guy stumbled in and grabbed an 18-pack foot-locker-sized box of bottled beer. He was stumbling and he could just barely talk. I told him I couldn't sell him any more beer.
"Dude, I can't do this. You're stumbling, & you're probably borderline-public-intox."
"Oh, I KNOW I'm public intox," he mumbled.
"Well, I can't do it," I said.
My son was sitting on the counter behind me, taking a break from working on the truck.
"Well, what's HE here for?" the drunk slurred.
"That's my son, he's working here," I said.
The drunk made a move to go after my son for some reason -- & that's when the drunk's girlfriend dashed into the store, threw an arm around his neck, & DRAGGED him back to their truck.
But he wasn't done yet. Apparently they'd just been to Wendy's, & the drunk started throwing burger parts at the front of the store -- burger and cheese and fries all over the parking lot. Then the girlfriend hit the gas and their truck screeched out of the parking lot. A couple pieces of tomato stuck to the front wall of the store -- over the front door -- for a week or so.
* "Stupid man" --  An older guy, a Regular for awhile, used to come in late at night and beg for change so he could buy beer. One night he came in at 11:59 and took 15 MINUTES to pick out his beer. Even shutting the lights off & telling him we were closed didn't speed him up. Finally he made his decision, slammed the beer on the counter and told me he had no money. "So how you gonna pay for it?" I asked, already at the end of my patience.
He looked me in the eye and said "Do you think I'm a stupid man?"
"I don't have time for this," I said, picked up his beer, held it up above his head, and led him out of the store, him following behind, then I sat the beer can down on a counter outside, and locked the door behind him. And then I paid for his beer.
Thank God, he hasn't been back.
* Sign guy -- One of our most annoying Regulars used to come in a couple times a week and beg customers for change so he could buy beer. All of us who worked at the store threw him out at least once. I tossed him out half a dozen times myself. He had a sort of sense of humor about it, though: One day he came in carrying a portfolio and asked for my opinion.
"I made a couple of signs," he said. "Tell me what you think."
He held up one sign that said NEED MONEY. ANYTHING WILL HELP.
The other sign said NEED MONEY FOR BEER.
I laughed and recommended the second sign. "You'll get WAY more cash that way, I guarantee."
He thanked me and went on his way. I assume the sign worked, because he didn't beg customers for change for awhile.
But he finally got thrown-out permanently one night when I saw him hit-up a kid coming home from Prom for spare change -- and he scared the heck out of the kid. I screamed at him and threatened to call the police. I haven't seen him since.
* Bike guy -- One glasses-wearing guy riding a bicycle came in late one night and almost came UNGLUED when his credit-card company wouldn't OK his 12-pack beer purchase. He was on our phone with them for 20 minutes, yelling and gibbering, and it looked like they weren't gonna budge. They put him on hold and I got distracted by something and went to take care of it -- and when I turned around he was gone, and so was the beer. When I looked out the front door it was obvious he'd crashed his bike somewhere in the parking lot, because half of the cans in his 12-pack were still rolling across the pavement. I retrieved the beer cans, turned them into a 6-pack, and didn't bother calling the cops because I knew they'd never show up.
* Thanksgiving -- One of our former Regulars, usually a pretty happy guy, showed up on Thanksgiving evening, staggering through the front door. He grabbed an 18-pack and wanted $20 in gas too. He was wobbling back and forth in front of the cash register.
I refused to sell him the beer, & told him I wasn't gonna sell him any gas either. "Why not?" he asked. "Because you're staggerin', man. You can barely stand up right now. And you sure as hell shouldn't be driving...."
He shrugged. "You're right," he said. "I'm pretty fucked up. I guess I could have my cousin come to get me...."
He went back outside and moved his truck over to the side of the store away from the gas pumps. I got distracted by other business so I don't know if he left on his own or if his cousin came to pick him up -- but the next time he came in, he shook my hand and said thanks for watchin' out. The only time THAT's ever happened....
* "Bad Day" guy -- I thought the drunks had mellowed, but there have been a couple memorable ones over the last couple weeks. One short dumpy older guy yakked his way through the store saying he had to have a beer 'cos he'd had a bad day. And as soon as he paid for it, he asked if I had $1.50 so he could buy another. "I've had a really bad day and I'm in a really bad mood, man."
Since he was about 5'2" and 120 pounds, I wasn't too worried about angering him. So I told him I was broke -- which I was.
So then he hit up EVERYBODY IN THE STORE and everybody in the parking lot for $1.50. And eventually he got it. When he came back to the cash register he was all apologetic.
"I've just had a really BAD day, man."
"And now you're giving me and everybody else one," I said. "Get the hell out, don't come back. You don't need to be hitting up my customers for money."
"Dude, I just had a REALLY BAD DAY!"
* The Geezers -- This didn't happen to me. Last week the woman who closes the store during my weekends said she was hit-up by a couple guys in their 60s, guys who walked in hammered and should have known better. She threw them out after they propositioned her and suggested a three-way. Also the first time THAT's ever happened....
...And YOUR favorite stories about drunks in action are...?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Getting Better

Things are better now. At the risk of jinxing it, I've had a really smooth last 2 or 3 weeks. Nothing to complain about. The workload seems to have evened out, I don't feel like I'm being taken advantage of quite so much, customers have been easier to deal with ... & as a result, I'm easier to deal with.
Maybe a new batch of motivational music for work has helped. For more about that, see my other blog, TAD's Back-Up Plan. Maybe things have lightened-up because it's trying to be Spring around here. A little Sunshine now & then sure does a lot of good. Maybe I just went down as low as I could go & then bounced back up. It's happened before.
Anyway, things are way better. Didn't want to leave things here the way they were before -- it was too much of a downer.
I'll get back to you when I have something new to report. Even if it's just to complain.
BTW, we're holding at $3.85 for a gallon of Regular gas. Hope things are better in your neck of the woods....

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Burned out

With apologies in advance to Mel Brooks:

I'm tired.
Tired of playing the game.
Ain't it a friggin' shame?
I'm so tired.
...But I don't wanna get fired.
Can't you see I'm pooped?

How tired am I of my job? Let me count the ways....
* I'm tired of all my co-workers who don't pull their own weight ... then make me feel guilty when I complain about it.
* I'm tired of doing all the work my co-workers leave for me because they're "too busy."
* I'm tired of all the people who bitch about gas prices, when they know I can't control them.
* I'm tired of all the people who rush the door at 2 minutes to midnight to buy massive quantities of scratch tickets or beer or gas -- and pay for all of it in change.
* I'm tired of all the people who make a $2 purchase and pay for it with a $100 bill ... and then get upset when I don't IMMEDIATELY have change for them. I'm not a bank.
* I'm tired of all the people who want their big bills broken. I'm not a bank.
* I'm tired of all the people who ask me a question and then talk over the top of my answer.
* I'm tired of all the people who interrupt me -- for whatever reason. It's rude as hell. I've even started doing it myself.
* I'm tired of all the people in a hurry who slide their debit cards before they've even told me what they want.
* I'm tired of all the people who complain when their credit or debit cards get declined ... even though anybody who uses their card knows WAY more about how much money they've got in their account than I do.
* I'm tired of drunks.
* I'm tired of drunks trying to cheer me up when I'm having a Bad Night.
* I'm tired of having Bad Nights.
* I'm tired of drunk women telling me I'm sexy -- when they normally wouldn't talk to me any other time.
* I'm tired of drunks and druggies and homeless people taking pity on me when I'm stressed out.
* I'm tired of people begging for money, for enough spare change to buy beer, for enough gas money to get home, offering to pay me back tomorrow or leave their car title with me to prove they'll come back. If you're that broke, why are you out driving?
* I'm tired of people asking if I've ever been held-up. If I'd been held up, I probably wouldn't do this anymore.
* I'm tired of people yelling, screaming, for no good reason, just because they think nobody will call them on it.
* I'm tired of out-of-control people. There are a LOT of them out there these days. People with no boundaries, who want to share their crisis with EVERYONE. Sometimes I think I'm becoming one of them.
* I'm tired of people skulking around, always being up to something, always trying to see how much they can get away with. Even if the economy wasn't in the toilet, there'd be a lot of lowlifes running around.
* I'm tired of everybody wanting something for free, WANTING A BARGAIN, wanting to barter: "I can get this cheaper down the road." So, go there. There's the price, pay it or leave.
* I'm tired of people who park in the parking lot for an hour -- or 2, or 3 -- and then leave. What are they doing out there? Making a drug deal? Gabbing endlessly on their cell phones? Thinking over whether it's worth it to hold me up? It's not. Get outta here, ya make me nervous. Go home.
* I'm tired of people trashing the restroom and not cleaning up after themselves. What the hell are they like at home?
* I'm tired of people who can't put down their cell phone long enough to complete a transaction -- or even tell me what they want.
* I'm tired of the drivers whose cars blow through the parking lot at 30 or 40 miles per hour EVERY DAY. It's a fucking GAS STATION, morons!
* I'm tired of the endless churning hurry, the rush to be somewhere, always running late -- it never stops. No wonder there are so many car wrecks. No wonder so many people are so stressed-out. It's sure as hell not just me.
* I'm tired of all the bullshit.
* I'm tired of complaints -- customers', mine, anyone's.
What does that leave? Well, not much. At least they're still paying me....

Friday, March 1, 2013

Nice while it lasted....

Some nights I REALLY AM The Gas Nazi. I'm sure I was like that for a lot of Wednesday night, when it became obvious that my co-workers were being nice to me & split-up the work to give me a break -- for a week. But as of Wednesday night I was back to Eating Shit again.
Nobody gets it. Everybody else is mostly there just for a paycheck. And I'm back to doing more than my share.
I freaked-out about this for an hour or so -- about how I walked in at 5 p.m. Wednesday and the soda coolers were half-empty and the big beer cooler hadn't been stocked and the soda fountain was COMPLETELY OUT of ice and the restroom was trashed & the restroom garbage-can was stuffed full and the floors looked like crap and....
Basically it looked like nobody had done much in the store since I went home Sunday night.
As usual.
Then I rang-up a customer and after I had him locked-in for his gas purchase, he dumped a pocketful of change on the counter and asked if he could add that to the gas.
And I blew up. And then he blew up at me.
He asked what the hell was wrong with me. He said I was acting like a crazy man.
Which I probably was.
And it was probably a good thing for me to hear.
Since then I've been pretty much down-to-earth. Hearing that flattened me right out, just like hitting a "reset" button. So I didn't go nuts when my afternoon co-worker left Thursday at 6:10 p.m. after not even pricing half of the beer order. I didn't freak-out too much when my boss'es kids came in Thursday night at 12:05 a.m. to fill up their car -- five minutes after I'd made my after-closing Dash To The Restroom.
But I DID freak-out Wednesday night when another of my co-workers came into the store 5 minutes after my boss left and asked me what was wrong. So I TOLD her. And I'm sure that'll get back to the boss, because it's the second time I've yelled at her.
Again, might be time to look for a new job. Last night was WAY better, just because it wasn't my Monday anymore. And tonight should be OK because it's Friday, and they're usually pretty smooth.
I'll keep you posted on whether there will be any repercussions from all this yelling. Possibly there will be. Nobody seems to care what I think as long as I'm not complaining. Nobody cares how much work they leave for me as long as I don't start yelling about it. Some of my co-workers don't even know HALF the things they're supposed to be doing during a shift -- another sign of really solid training.
Anybody out there looking for a decent writer with 15 years of retail sales experience? Twenty years experience with newspaper writing? A real retirement job where I don't feel like I have to go out and re-shingle the roof almost every single day? Please respond below....

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Just One Victory

Things are better here. It's been a good week.
Had a talk with the Manager, she agreed we could maybe spread the work around a little bit more so I don't feel like I'm doing Everything Myself, and since then I've been a lot less stressed. I even ENJOYED working about 3 nights in a row. It's amazing how much less buried I feel when all my co-workers agree to do just a LITTLE bit more -- like a 5-minute re-stocking trip through the cooler before they go home. I already left a note at work thanking all of them. We'll see how long this lasts.

Meanwhile, though the SITUATION has improved, the weirdness level at work has gone way up, especially since Washington state legalized recreational marijuana-smoking back in December. The number of stoned people coming into the store every night now is really incredible. Some of them are DRIVING. I can't be sure that they're impaired -- but either they understand NOTHING, or their attention is all OVER the place. On Saturday night, I asked one ADHD-type guy straight-out if he was driving, then told him to be careful. And he thanked me.
But he wasn't the strangest. Was it a Full Moon up there above our typical Winter overcast?
About 8 p.m., a homeless-looking methed-out guy -- chewing gum like a possessed zombie -- spent half an hour in the restroom ... but he gets bonus points because he DIDN'T mess it up. God Knows what he was doing in there. But when he came out, he gave me a hard time because we didn't have any hot food available -- something we haven't done for years. Then he took his odd-looking, emaciated, tattooed, backpack-wearing self & walked off, chewing gum a mile a minute all the way....
He wasn't even the weirdest. After 11 p.m., a young drunk guy came in, thankfully not driving, but walking around outside in under-40-degree weather, in nothing but a light coat & no hat, complaining about how cold it was.
And he was HAMMERED. He reeked of beer, could barely stand up, was wobbling back and forth from one foot to the other. Luckily, he didn't want to buy more beer. In the space of 10 minutes I sold him two packs of the same cigarettes -- he forgot he'd bought the first pack, but I wasn't going to argue with him -- plus a $5 scratch ticket ... then DEMANDED something hot to drink to help him keep warm. But he didn't want coffee or hot chocolate.
"The last time I drank coffee, I was in the Amazon," he said. "I don't do coffee anymore."
I agreed it wasn't the Amazon outside, & I POURED HIM a cup of steaming hot water out of the coffee machine -- & I warned him it was steaming hot.
And he promptly burnt his mouth on it.
"Are you KIDDING me, dude? I mean, REALLY?!"
"I told you it was hot...."
"Dude, you're crushing me, man. You've got to be kidding."
I asked him what he was talking about as he got progressively more agitated.
"I just want to go HOME," he said. And he started CRYING....
He'd been talking on his cellphone outside the store.
"Are you trying to track down a ride?" I asked.
"Yeah, well, I thought I had a ride, but I guess getting a ride ain't that easy around here. ... Is this Port Orchard? ... It's Friday night, right? ... Oh, Dude, you're just crushing me, are you kidding...? ... Did I lose my hat?"
"You weren't wearing one when you came in."
And he took his cup of hot water and left, stumbling off into the night.
There aren't that many stable people out after about 10 at night anymore, especially on weekends. Must have been a Full Moon. The best drunk I've seen in awhile. I've got to do a post on drunks someday soon, God knows we get enough of them....

On the down side, gas prices here have gone up 50 cents per gallon since the end of January. I've heard that in some parts of the country, prices have gone up 70 CENTS in 3 weeks.
As of Saturday night, we were at $3.89 for a gallon of Regular gas -- up 10 cents from Friday. Our national competitor across the street from us is a dime less per gallon, & the cheap nationwide chain across the corner from us is 20 cents less. Dropping beer & cigarette prices boosted business for us a bit, but we can't control gas prices.
...But I don't want to hear any whining until we break the old Record Price, which is $4.59 per gallon for Regular, set back in the brutal Summer of 2008. Remember those days? Let's not go back there again, OK?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Every day's a Monday!

Been running my ass off at work this past week. As usual. And it's starting to catch up to me. My co-workers are leaving most of the stuff they don't want to be bothered with to me, trusting that I will clean everything up and make us all look good -- and after 9 years, I'm starting to resent it. It's starting to piss me off.
And sometimes I take it out on customers, which is Not Good.
Every day lately when I've come in to work, EVERYTHING has needed to be done. Coolers haven't been stocked, counters haven't been cleaned off, floors are a mess, the restroom is usually unspeakable, nobody's re-stocked beer, sometimes a dozen bags of ice need to be bagged. I KNOW the folks who work mornings don't do anything before they go home -- I can SEE it when I step into the cooler upon arriving at work.
I can't remember the last time my Manager cleaned the restroom -- and that used to be the one thing she DID do before she went home.
It's true that I have 8 hours at night to get all my work done, and it's true that my shift is usually much less busy than the other shifts during the day.
But I don't think it's right or fair that everything should be left for me to take care of. That allows everyone else to just chat with people and take money and do whatever the minimum requirement is for their shift.
And then I come in and clean up after everybody else.
Maybe I brought this on myself -- maybe this is what I get paid for. But would it kill my co-workers to at least make a 5-minute re-stock run through the cooler before they go home? It would mean less work for me later....
Currently, the folks I take over from at 5 p.m. all do different things during their shifts, some do more work than others. But none of them apparently believe in re-stocking sodas or beer, or cleaning spills up off the floor, or cleaning the coffee counters or the restroom. It could be worse -- at least someone's emptying the outside garbage cans every day. I could have those to do too. As is, it's still usually not 'til after 9 p.m. 'til I can slow down and catch my breath.
I KNOW nobody is applying the pressure but me. But when the place looks like a pigsty and it's half-empty to boot, I gotta keep workin'. And I KNOW I'm the only person stocking sodas and energy drinks and bottled-water and beer -- because I SEE it every time I step into the cooler.
I have TRIED to find things I can skip that aren't an emergency, things that can wait a day or two to get done -- so I let them go, and nobody else does them ... and then I end up doing them anyway before I go home Sunday night for my weekend.
I am already purposely not doing some little things as a minor form of protest. I can't remember the last time I mopped the entire store after closing -- these days I tend to only hit the rough and well-traveled spots before getting out of the building before 1 a.m. under the Owner's "Watch The Overtime" policy.
Y'all may be thinking I take this crap too seriously, that I should lighten up, play more music, find more ways to let the stress roll off. Nobody else is busting their ass around this place to Do Things Right.
And you'd be right.
But you try doing this 5 days a week -- feeling like you're doing EVERYTHING every day, running your ass off -- and see how soon you stress-out.
And of course after I get everything done each night after 9 p.m. or so, then I can heave a big sigh of relief and everything is ALL BETTER.
Until the next night, when I start all over again.
But I still resent it. I'm being taken advantage of. And I know it.
So, a Showdown is probably coming between me and the Manager -- who won't hear me. I can hear her responses now -- "We all work hard, we all do more than our share, if you don't like it you can quit, maybe it's time you found something else to do."
Maybe she's right, but I don't see it. I'm being used, and I know it.
Besides, what other options do I have?
Would more money help? It's been a couple years since my last raise, but I think I'd probably still resent it, even with more money.
Besides, business has been flat since at least Christmas, if not since last June. It's really the wrong time to ask for a raise. If I expect to GET one, that is.
And I think I'm probably topped-out for salary for this kind of work.
Nevertheless, Some Kind Of Discussion is Coming. Soon.
I'll keep you posted. And I'll try not to get fired....

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Don't Get Me Wrong....

I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. I've made a lot of them in 9 years of working at the gas station. I make customers angry every night -- often without even realizing I'm doing it. Sometimes I do it and just don't care.
But I think my mistakes are minor, compared to what I've had to put up with at times.
I've been called useless, been told I suck ass. I've been screamed at by people who should know I can't fix what's making them angry. I've been called rude -- many times. Usually by people who could write a book on the subject.
I've been messed with by tweakers, had things thrown at me by drunks, been hit up for change, asked countless times for "a break" or a loan or free gas. I've given people more than $100 in "free" gas in 9 years, & been paid back exactly twice. I'm still waiting for the last woman who promised to come back and re-pay me. I'm tired of being a sucker.
I've been distracted by others while people stole cigarettes from behind the front counter. I've had people ask to borrow the phone, then steal beer when I've gotten distracted. I've been screamed at because our cigar prices were "too goddamned high -- you can't rip off the people like that!"
I've cleaned up after other people's shit explosions in the bathroom. I've been asked -- or my co-workers have been asked -- a dozen times if I'm gay. Because I'm "too goddamned happy."
I've had people in a hurry ask me a question and then talk over my answer -- many times. I really hate getting interrupted.
I've been screamed at by people who think our gas pumps "don't work" when their overdrawn credit/debit cards get declined. Anybody who uses a card at my store knows more about their bank account than I do -- but I'm the guy who gets screamed at.
Ain't people wonderful?
There was the falling-down-drunk guy who threw burger parts when I wouldn't sell him any more beer. There was the tweaker who spent 2 hours looking at every sparkly thing that caught her eye in the store. There was the drunk who came in at closing, took 15 minutes (in the dark) trying to find the beer he wanted, then couldn't pay for it and asked me "Do you think I'm a stupid man?" I had to lead him out of the store by his beer -- which I paid for.
I'm still waiting for the little old man who exploded in the bathroom to come back.
I don't see too many tweakers anymore, but I still remember the guy who thought he was Clint Eastwood -- every word he said was uttered through clenched teeth: "HOW'S IT GOING, DUDE??"
I remember the guy who came in asking to use the phone at 11:30, and spent the next 45 minutes -- past closing -- babbling and raving into the phone. I don't think he was even TALKING to anybody. At about 12:15, when he finally took a breath, I reminded him that we'd closed 15 minutes earlier and that's why all the store's lights were turned off....
I remember the woman who came in to by scratch tickets, clutching her money in her hand, and after she picked out what she wanted but before I had a chance to ring her up, she put her money in her purse, then immediately accused me of stealing it. I had to tell her FOUR TIMES that she'd put the money in her purse -- then she finally opened the bag, saw the money on top and said "Oh." No "Thank you," no "Sorry." Just "Oh." Thank God she's never been back.
Thank God all my customers aren't like that. Most of them are pretty good folks. And the drunks and druggies have mellowed lately. Or maybe I have.
But the stories I could tell you.... And probably will....

In the interests of accuracy, I should note that -- in the "Normal Night at Work" post below -- my Manager also spent much of her week re-pricing all the beer in the store's cooler, a job she could easily have left to the rest of us. She spent at least 6 hours getting the work done. Just because she hasn't finished the project yet doesn't mean I shouldn't give credit where it's due. She's not a bad person. And I'm sure I have no idea of all the crap SHE has to put up with....

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Normal Night at Work

...Well, not COMPLETELY normal....
I arrived at work at 4:50 p.m. Wednesday to discover our gas price at $3.65 per gallon for Regular -- up 28 cents in 8 days, & 20 cents more than our national competitor across the street....
...And to learn that my Manager had injured her right wrist somehow during her weekend, couldn't lift any weight with it, was ringing-up customers left-handed, and as a result basically did NOTHING during her 8-hour work shift. Nothing was stocked, nothing was filled. She MIGHT have run the vacuum cleaner, couldn't really tell. The outside garbage cans were emptied earlier, apparently by somebody who could actually LIFT things.... The parking lot looked like an ashtray, as usual.
I've been fighting a cold since Sunday morning, didn't sleep well Tuesday night, and don't feel all that great either, so Wednesday night had the possibilities for being an Absolute Classic. And it was.
What follows is mostly from my notes during the shift....

Arrived 4:50 pm. Mgr hurt right wrist, couldn't lift. Takes me a few minutes to actually notice this.
Into the cooler -- low on beer, energy drinks, water, as usual. Beers haven't been moved forward -- Mgr's hurt wrist explains why nothing's been done. Don't doubt her, but if it wasn't this, she'd find some other lame excuse.
Cooler has looked way worse, but I'm in there stocking for 15 minutes anyway. Lots of empty boxes to throw out.
Freezer's low on ice, I guess about 14 bags would fill it. Possibly nobody's bagged ice since Sunday....
To the restroom -- grungy, but not atrocious, as it has been before when I've come back from my weekend. Garbage can's full, hasn't been emptied since I did it Sunday night.
Onto the cash register by 5:10 pm. Most of rush hour is a blur, as usual. Notice we are low on sodas in the out-front coolers. Low on Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew. As usual. Between customers, I start stocking us up on these.
The Pepsi fountain machine is almost out of ice, possible nobody's filled it since I did Sunday night. As usual.
Mgr is gone by 6:15, tho she did stay long enuf to help get me thru the 6 o'clock rush. She offers to do nothing extra on her way out the door. Another rush begins immediately after she leaves.
Front-cooler sodas are stocked-up by 6:30.
Pepsi machine is re-filled with ice by 7. Inside garbage cans emptied by 7.
Rush continues.
Have carpets vacuumed and inside of store swept by 7:15.
Started taking apart & cleaning the cappuccino machine by 7:30. Cappuccino machine isn't COMPLETELY empty, maybe somebody filled it during my weekend. Get a chance to sit down as I dry-off all the parts before putting it back together.
Rush continues til 8 -- "rush hour" runs a bit late tonight. But after 8 it dies.
Cappuccino machine done by 9, took a little longer than usual due to number of customers in store.
I feel like CRAP and have already decided I'm NOT going to mop the floor, sweep-off the front porch, or fill the sugar canisters -- 3 of which are empty. Let somebody else do it.
Business picked back up starting at 10, including the first of the hoods & drunks.
Get thru it somehow, am not talking much, am losing my voice, have no energy.
I break down & sweep-off the "welcome" mat right outside the front door, so people don't track in the outside grunge.
Lock the doors at 11:59, so sue me.
Hit the bathroom, then fill a dozen bags of ice to throw in the freezer. Some smart-ass employee -- the last one to bag any ice, apparently -- stocked just enuf ice to make the freezer look fuller than it really is. Being the dedicated martyr "lifer" employee that I am, I fill it to the max.
Do paperwork, count money & drop it in the safe, stock the cooler again, mop the bathroom -- but I'm running slow & feel like crap & am already 10 minutes into Overtime, so don't mop the rest of the store -- which would take at least 10 more minutes & give me 20 mins of Overtime under our boss'es recent No Overtime policy.
Out the door at 1 am, pass out at Home before 2....

This is what I've been doing 5 nights a week for the last 9 years, more or less -- usually more. At least they're still paying me. At least I still have a job. If some of my co-workers did just a LITTLE more than what is absolutely required, I'd be a happier guy, but apparently everybody feels OK about leaving practically everything for me. At least somebody emptied the outside garbages earlier on Wednesday, or I could've been a further half-hour behind.
Some blessings -- I didn't get any Major Assholes in the store on Wednesday night, & the drunks & hoods weren't that hard to deal with. At least it didn't get TOO crazy screaming busy, to the point where I couldn't keep up.
There was no yelling -- I COULDN'T yell, and nobody yelled at me either.
Tonight, I have a beer order I might have to price & stock. & I'm still sick. We'll see how that works out.
And the hits just keep on comin'....
But tonight will be better, just because it's not my Monday anymore.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Gas prices up 20 cents in a week!

Greetings, Happy New Year and Sorry Again for the delays.
I'm posting here again because the price for a gallon of Regular gasoline at my little store has gone up 20 cents in a week -- from $3.39 per gallon to $3.59.
The national news media says this price spike is due to oil refineries shutting down to switch from their Winter-blend gas to their Summer blend.
I don't know, maybe. Sounds like a hype to me, though. Is the Summer blend thinner? Thicker? Sweeter? What?
To sort-of counteract this, and at roughly the same time, my boss recently dropped prices on beer and cigarettes -- the two biggest items people come into my little store for.
Cigarette prices drop by 40 cents per pack if you buy 2 or more packs. Beer prices, meanwhile, have dropped a dime each for 24-ounce cans up to $2 on 12-packs and 18-packs.
All this happened just in time for the Super Bowl -- good timing. We reportedly now have the cheapest beer prices in town. And our cigarette prices are pretty reasonable too -- for Washington state, where there's really no such thing as "cheap smokes." Before the price change, our cheapest pack of cigarettes was $6.39 plus nearly-9-percent sales tax.
My boss has made these price reductions -- which come straight out of his profit-margin -- because business has been pretty flat since at least September -- and the Summer wasn't the business bonanza we'd all expected, either. I was surprised that we even received Christmas bonuses this year. The boss is trying to come up with more reasons for people to come INTO the store -- because that's where he makes his profit, not on the gas.
Every time I hear something on the national news about how the economy's improving, I just think about how slow things have been at work, how many people are still on Food Stamps or Unemployment, how we've all had to redefine what "a busy night at work" means.
There are still a few people out there with money ... but we haven't seen too many of them, lately.
How are things in your neck of the woods...?

In other updates, our last Real Worker left in December, and now I'm mostly surrounded by a crew that's just collecting a paycheck. A LOT of stuff is left for me to take care of at night -- when I allegedly have All The Time In The World. Stocking, cleaning, emptying garbages, vacuuming, taking care of customers -- you name it, I do it all.
We hired a couple of new people before the holidays, but on a bad day neither of them do all that much, and there were a LOT of things Management apparently didn't tell the newest of our employees. She ALWAYS has questions whenever she works, and she can't seem to remember all that much.
I can always tell when I've had a couple of days off, because when I go back to work on Wednesday evening, the store is usually a shambles and it's clear that nothing much has been stocked since I went home Sunday night.
I've complained about this a couple of times, but my manager just shuts me off. Just a little more effort out of everyone else would make me a happier guy. I know they all have demands on their time, but they sure don't seem to Do Much. And if that's the case, why do I always feel like I'm running around like a crazy person...?
Our store motto sometimes seems to be: Let the 53-year-old bald tired stressed-out guy do it.
But it's always been like this, and I don't see it changing much until I can't keep up anymore.
At least they're still paying me....
So, stop in and see me sometime!