Countryside petrol stations: apparently stressful jobs

I’ve never met a anyone who has taken their job as seriously as the gas attendant we encountered on the way home yesterday.

Getting gas is a pretty routine activity no matter where you live. You pull your car in, you pump some gas, you pay, you leave. Sometimes you make use of the facilities or purchase some snacks at the convenience store, but that’s about it. There is nothing too time consuming about the whole procedure. Sometimes you may end up waiting for someone who’s inside purchasing snacks to move their car so you can reach the pump, but it’s never a long wait. I suppose anything can be frustrating in our 4G, always-on world, though. Anyway, I’ve gotten off point.

Yesterday, we pulled in for the final fill-up before reaching home. The driver topped off the tank while the other passenger and I went in to locate the restroom. It wound up being one of those exterior toilets for which you had to obtain the key from the attendant, which was simple enough. Never before had I considered why keys like this come with giant dongles attached to them – huge pieces of wood, giant plastic flowers, diving sticks, etc. Clearly, they’re meant to signal to people “THIS IS NOT YOURS! Remember to bring it back!” But would someone still take the thing, dongle and all? Apparently. Because the station’s attendant gave us very stern instructions to do our business, re-lock the door, then bring the key back. He was quite huffy about it, so I figured perhaps someone had walked off with this key’s predecessor earlier in the day and it had been quite an ordeal. Who knows!

So we made our use of the creepy, less-than-clean-but-functional toilet then stepped outside. As we exited, we found our driver in conversation with the attendant who had since left his post to ask our driver to please move the car. He had finished pumping our gas, but there was no one in line waiting to use the pumps. There was also another pump free right behind us and three cars on the opposite side who would be done shortly. So our driver said he’d move it as soon as he used the restroom. He entered and I waited, with the key, to lock up after him. I’d attached the key to my belt loop because there was no place in the facility to hang it or rest it – at least not someplace you’d want to retrieve it from again. The entire two minutes it took for our driver to relieve himself, the attendant huffed and puffed in disbelief and gestured toward the car as if it was preventing starving children from reaching food and water. Had I had the key, I would have gladly moved it to ease his mind (or so that he’d stop giving us dirty looks) but I didn’t. In the time it would have taken me to reach the car anyway, our driver was finished and on his way over.

I began to remove the dongle-tethered key from my belt loop to re-lock the bathroom door, but it snagged a bit. In the time it took me to free it, the station attendant had closed the distance between us and was reaching for the key himself! I explained that I was going to lock it for him but he simply grumbled, locked it himself, then stormed off. My friends and I got back in the car and continued our drive home… not sure what just happened, but we decided to laugh about it.

Bad day, perhaps? Bad year? Bad life? Bad job, at least, regardless of the rest. Perhaps he just needed a hug. Or a hobby.

But honestly, if you’re so easily upset over bathroom keys and cars that are in nobody’s way… seek help.



Filed under Writing

2 responses to “Countryside petrol stations: apparently stressful jobs

  1. I have personally met people like the one you have just described. This reminded me of a time I was treated so horribly badly by a petrol station attendant because I didn’t have change to pay for the bathroom and so she refused to give me the key to the bathroom. I was so (visibly) desperate that I couldn’t hold it and pleaded with her to give me the key (huge unnecessary dongle included) and promised that I would give her the R1 (equivalent to 0.10 Dollars or 0.077 Euros – yes, precisely) needed to use the bathroom once I was done and able to ask for change in the store. She refused. And as I turned my back to walk to the store, it happened. Warmth down my legs. I can’t explain the rage, then sadness follwed by helplessness and confusion I felt. Needless to say, it was a wrap for me, time to go home!

    I have to admit that your story made me laugh out loud. Thank you!

    • Oh, no! That sounds awful! How completely unsympathetic. Honestly, some people take their jobs a little too seriously. When looking back on situations like this, though, I usually find it best to find the humor in it all.. better to laugh than cry, anyway. So glad my words could give you a laugh! 🙂

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