I’ve been travelling a lot for business in the past 6 months or so. Roughly 50% of my work time has been spent on the road, which is actually pretty unusual. That’s just a reflection of the fact that my company is going through a lot of changes right now. Kind of like puberty. Just trust me when I say it’s awkward.
Anyway, most of my trips are to either the San Francisco Bay area or to Arkansas. This might seem odd, but my company’s HQ is in Little Rock.
Wait. I meant to say at the beginning that this is a blog post about something I regret from 2012. It’s a small thing but for some reason it weighs on my mind.
When I go to Arkansas I usually drive. It’s only a five or six hour drive from Nashville and the fuss of going by air makes the decision to drive easy.
Well, on one of my trips in the last few months I was on my way to Arkansas and I had to pee REALLY BADLY. Yes, I am one of those people who does not like to stop on road trips and prefers to double up pee-breaks and food-breaks. Well, in this case, I needed to pee and I held out for as long as I could until I was down below a quarter of a tank and could justify a stop for gas.
So, I pulled up to a tank at a Shell station and hopped out. Immediately, I knew I would not be able to hold it to pump gas, so I marched right into the station and into the bathroom.
On my way out of the station and back to the pump, the attendant for the station was on the sidewalk talking to some young people (I almost called them “gutterpunks” because that’s how they looked, but I don’t want to be judgey.) and she turned to me.
“Sir, you can’t just use my bathroom and not just buy nothin’.”
I didn’t skip a beat and did not miss a step in my characteristic rush to where I was going. “Well, I was planning on filling up my tank if that’s all right with you.”
Here’s what I regret: I wish I had said to this middle-aged, chain-smoking gas station attendant, “I’m down to less than a quarter of a tank and I was going to fill up here, but since you’ve decided to substitute courtesy for presumptuous bitchiness, I’ve decided to drive down the street to the Exxon station and fill up there.”
Actually, what I wish I had said was, “I just did.” And then hopped in my car and drove to the next gas station.
I second-guessed myself several times before filling up, but ultimately did fill my tank there.
But I was really annoyed by how rude this woman was. There is no law that says I can’t use a gas station restroom without buying anything. There certainly was not any sign on the door saying that was their custom. As a matter of courtesy, I always buy something when I stop to use the rest room at a commercial establishment, but when someone presumes to demand against that courtesy it rankles.
So, I regret not mouthing off to a woman who mouthed off at me at a gas station.