“See Clerk for Receipt” Rage

26 01 2008

I’m not prone to road rage. I have to be the calming one when my wife and I are getting bad service at a restaurant. I can even handle it most of the time if someone in line in front of me at the grocery store is having trouble with their credit card. However, I am having great difficulty staying in a good mood when paying for gas.

Gas Station Companies: Please FIX your broken pumps that will not print out receipts.

Is this happening more frequently everywhere, or just in my area? I am aware that they want us to come inside, praying that we will have an unstoppable urge to also purchase a package of multi-colored drinking straws, but still… There has been an unusually high percentage of gas-tank filling episodes in which I find out at the end that I have to go inside to get the receipt. (My wife is maniacal about keeping track of budgets, receipts, etc. so leaving without it is not a good option). My job involves traveling around seeing kids so I’m usually in between appointments when I stop to get gas. Much of the time, I have just enough time to get there am running a bit late. It is very frustrating to see that message come up on the screen and to have to go inside. The situation gets more horrific when I find out that I have to get in line behind: 1. A guy wearing a wife-beater shirt who is buying cigarettes and 2. A grotesquely overweight person who is buying powdered donuts (and already eating them, thereby leaving a trail of white for me to avoid).

It is important to note that I do not take out my anger on the clerks since I know it’s not their fault. However, I thought this was going to change two days ago when I reached the boiling point. The scene: I am not in a huge hurry this time as my day is coming to an end. However, it is something like 2 degrees outside with a wind chill of 4 billion below 0. I fill my tank while waiting in my car (people from Wisconsin who wear shorts when it’s 2 can make fun of me now). I finish and wait for my receipt. (Picture my wife at home with an abacus and mechanical pencil just waiting for the day’s financial comings and goings in paper form). I am shivering. I can feel my lips freezing, cracking, and falling off. I can no longer feel my arms. Then it happens on the crappy little gas pump display screen: “See clerk for receipt.” (It doesn’t even say “Please” on the read out. Nor does it say, “I’m so sorry that our sign says pay-at-the-pump even though you really can’t.” Nor does it say, “We suck. Come inside.” It’s more of a mocking tone, letting me know that something precious that is rightfully mine is in the hands of the worker inside.)

Well, in this particular instance, I am ready to let the clerk have it. No more mister patient customer.

In retrospect, I’m thinking she (the clerk) saw my facial expression while I was standing at the pump (or possibly when I threw myself to the ground kicking and screaming…or when I stood back up and repeatedly gave the finger in the direction of the pump while yelling @($*W@. An older woman at an adjacent pump quickly began to pray aloud.) Anyway, the clerk was prepared, and I have to give her credit. She acted as follows: The second I walk in the door (even though another weirdo is in the process of buying cigarettes, batteries, tampons, and tuna fish), she immediately apologizes that the receipt did not print. She quickly gives me the dreaded “duplicate outdoor receipt” and with a bright smile proclaims, “I just wanted you to have to come in so I could see you.”

She was lucky I am male. Poof, my anger was magically gone. Duplicate receipt in hand, I headed home happy. I am thinking she would have had much more difficulty appeasing my wife (especially if she had been with me).

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