Saturday, July 09, 2005

$31.00

While I was running errands in my car yesterday evening, I noticed that I was pretty low on gas. I pulled into the next Arco gas station, and asked the attendant to fill the tank. I became preoccupied with organizing CDs in my car, and listening to"Songs for the Deaf" when the lever on the nozzle clicked, indicating that the tank was full. I looked at the pump display to see how much my total was, but was unable to read the LED display from where I was parked and sitting. The fresh-faced young attendant came over and informed me that my total was $31.00. Absently, I handed him a $20 dollar bill. He looked at me, hand still open with my $20 in it, and repeated the total. A wave of panic rose in me, was I short on cash? "Do you accept debit cards?" I hopefully asked. "No," the increasingly impatient and annoyed young man replied, "cash only." My mind raced. What could I do? In the next timeless few seconds, I began to formulate a contingency plan: I could leave him my license and run to the ATM, or I could give the attendant collateral...what did I have in my car that was of value? A Thompson guide? My work shoes? A few 10 x 10 squares of stained glass? Other motorists were lining up behind me, it was apparent I was the bottleneck in the smooth efficiency of re-fueling on the eve of the weekend. In desperation, I looked down into my hands, resting on my lap with my wallet open. My eyes could not believe the incredulous sight: I was holding two 5-dollar bills, and a single. "Ha ha!" I exclaimed, " I have exact change!" Estatically, I handed the remainder of my tab over. I started up the car, and headed off onto other adventures. In my rear view mirror, the attendant remained standing there, shaking his head, clutching my payment as the next customer pulled up to the pump.

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