As I finished my week in the Bay Area and was driving back to the Valley early this morning, I did something I haven't done in years...I stopped at an ARCO gas station. Normally, I avoid ARCO because although their gas runs about five cents a gallon cheaper, the methamphetamine addict drama that usually plays itself out there is something I haver little energy for (I'm guessing for every five cents a gallon saved is another five cents towards staying up for five days straight and disassembling a motorcycle transmission at 3 am). Anyway, ARCO seems to have a disproportionate number of questionable characters there, but today I was feeling thrifty so I went. First thing that jumped out at me: they FORCE you to leave the pump and go in the store to see the cashier. I rarely carry cash. Cash is a pain in the ass. I like plastic (debit, credit, whatever). It's convenient. It's great at gas stations because you can just plunk your card in the slot and off you go. Well, the ARCO pump has a card reader, but it serves no purpose. It stated right next to card reader: "For credit or debit transactions, please see the cashier." And by seeing the cashier, it means standing behind three drunk people with B.O. buying SlimJims, pork rinds, condoms, and cigarettes (sounds like a busy weekend, huh?). This is why I use plastic, to AVOID seeing the cashier. So, just on a whim, I tried the card reader anyway. Needless to say, it just flashed a sign that said, yep, "Please see the cashier." One DOES have to wonder, "Just what in the hell is it for then?" Fine. So I go in and hand my card over to the cashier (after trying to decipher the alcohol fumed funk coming off of the people in front of me: construction worker who hasn't bathed in three days? Drug addict who lives behind a dumpster? Jihadist freedom fighter who just came in off of a three month stint in the hills of Afghanistan?). I walk back to the car and start to pump my gas. Know how long it takes to pump 15 gallons of gas from an ARCO gas pump? 43 hours. Seriously, I thought my pump was broken. I raised a family, sent the kids off to college, and had a retirement dinner celebration and I was only on gallon number seven. I looked around and all the other pumps were pumping as slowly (now 'pumping slowly' may have its place, but not here). I'm guessing when you're counting every penny in order to have a little something left for those SlimJims and cigarettes, well, you don't want that pump to fly and accidentally stop twelve cents over your limit. So, after continental drift had changed the face of the Earth by the time the pump finished, I drove off thinking how much happier I would have been had I spent the extra eighty-five cents a tank across the street at Chevron.
Also, I have figured out why nobody in the Bay Area drives faster than 62 MPH. Their cars are incapable of higher speeds due to their vehicle being powered by the 'green technology' of garden compost. Surely a populace fueled on high octane gasoline wouldn't be so incapable of even merely APPROACHING the speed limit.
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