I stopped to get gas today, and pulled up to the pump behind an old lady who seemed to be having some trouble. As I was parking I witnessed her jam her card in the pump, then whack the pump selector button somewhat indelicately. This was followed by a repeated two-handed thrust of the pump nozzle into her car, into the pump, and then back again… and again, as if she was the center attraction in some weird mechanical ménage à trois.
What stuck me was not the rage against the machine, but that this sweet little woman would have looked right at home at a church social, undoubtedly uttered the phase, “Well aren’t you a dear,” several times a day, and couldn’t have weighed 100 pounds soaking wet and carrying a bowling ball.
Stepping out of my truck I called forward, “Would you like some help?” She turned toward me, muttering something about the kid inside the store not doing his job. She then returned to her jamming, whacking, and thrusting.
I set my pump up to run and she was still at it—a relentless geriatric machine. I called forward again, trying to be helpful. “Did you answer all the questions on the screen?” Her head pivoted my way again. She stopped momentarily, considering my words. She glanced back at the pump, then flung open her car door to retrieve her glasses. You could feel the tension in the air as she squinted at the pump.
“Why the hell do they need me to answer questions? They have my damned card!” And undeterred, she jammed, whacked, and thrusted again.
I finally decided to intervene anyway, and approached her. “Here, let me try,” I offered, and I pressed the cancel button on the pump thinking we’d start over. But before the pump had a chance to reset… you guessed it… jam, whack, thrust.
“I don’t know why it’s got to be so damned complicated,” she said with exasperation.
“Let’s just start over,” I said a bit more firmly while taking the nozzle from her hand. I reset the pump with an eye out this time for any flailing hands, asked her to put her card in again, then asked if she wanted a receipt. Once the pump was operating I told her I thought she was all set and returned to finish filling my own vehicle.
As I was walking back I could hear her mutter, “That’s the last damn time I let him tell me to stop for gas. It’s not my job!”
I’m sure she was grateful in her own way… and I do not envy her husband when she gets back home. This is one sweet old lady you do not want to piss off.