We’ve all picked the wrong queue at the fuel station and cursed ourselves for not being psychic. It’s a gamble, and like any form of gambling, some you win, some you lose. Occasionally though, you lose so spectacularly that your head almost explodes. Or is that just me?
Some of you will know exactly what I mean. For those that don’t, let me explain what happened this morning. The sun was shining and I was in a fine mood when I left the supermarket carpark and decided to fill the van up with fuel. As I pulled onto a reasonably busy forecourt, my mind went into overdrive. Eyes focussing on every customer, one at a time; 100% of my cognitive capacity dedicated to figuring out what stage of the game everyone is at. Are they opening that flap, about to full up, or closing it after filling the tank? Have they paid at the pump or are they about to saunter into the shop to pay the old fashioned way?
Typically, you’ve got between 2 and 4 seconds to make a decision. Today, I made the wrong decision. I should have known. I should have read the warning signs. But I didn’t. The car that I pulled up behind didn’t have a fuel nozzle sticking out of it and the little old lady was fingering the buttons on the ‘pay at the pump’ machine. I took that to mean its fuel tank had already been replenished. Oh, how wrong was I? What she was actually doing was pressing the ‘pay at kiosk’ button. She hadn’t even started filling up.
At this point, I only had myself to blame. I was annoyed, but I was only annoyed at myself. As usual, I’d gone steaming in without taking the time to really think things through, now I was going to have to pay the price. I’d made my bed, so I’d have to jolly well lie in it.
But it turned out to be a bed of nails. Because after spending far too long half-filling her roller-skate sized car up with unleaded, obviously trying to stop on a round number, two other vehicles that entered the fuel station at the same time as me had already left. As you can imagine, by this point I was absolutely livid. And watching her trot nonchalantly into the shop for a browse at the magazines didn’t do anything to calm me down. In fact it did the opposite.
Every minute she spent in there felt like a lifetime, and when she finally reappeared, I was literally vibrating with anger. Why must she take so long? Does she not know there are other people in the world that want to buy fuel? Is she completely oblivious to the world around her or just really, really inconsiderate. Perhaps she assumes that just because she hasn’t got anything else to be getting on with, nobody else does either. Perhaps she assumes that just because she doesn’t have a life, neither do I. Well I do, and I’m a busy man, so get a move on.
By the time she’d returned to her car, I knew exactly the type of four letter word I was dealing with. I’d seen them before. So for my own amusement, and to give me something to do whilst I waited and waited and waited, I decided to time how long it took for her to get in her car, and get out of the way. By the time she’d got in her car, faffed around with her keys, had three goes at trying to reach her seatbelt, plugged it in, tried to remember how to put her car into first gear and set off, it had been 47 seconds. 47 seconds to get in your car and drive off. That’s unacceptable in normal circumstances, never mind when there’s someone waiting to use the fuel pump behind you.
This kind of behaviour is the height of bad manners, if you ask me. The little old lady that ruined my day is probably oblivious to the heartache she caused but I like to think that when she got home her cat had laid a cable on her best bedspread, and with a bit of luck, trod in it, and wandered all round the house, smearing it far and wide. Hopefully that’d teach her a lesson, but it’s doubtful it would, as she’d have little reason to link the cat mess with her fuel station performance. But it would still serve her right.
But the true tragedy of the fact is that she isn’t alone. There are far too many people that display this kind of selfish, inconsiderate conduct when refuelling their vehicles. And it needs to stop before someone’s head actually explodes. So if there’s someone waiting behind you at the petrol station, why not move your car out the way so they can get to the pump. If you need to do some shopping in the fuel station shop, fine, they all have somewhere to park that doesn’t block the pumps up; use one of them spaces. Come on, is it really too much to ask?