Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Gas Station Incident, & Old Steam

On the way home from Mom's the other day I stopped at one of those convenience store with gas pumps - you know...Wawa, 7-11, Sheetz, and the like.  It was time to fill up the daily driver.  So I did.  And pushed the little button to get a receipt.   But the machine didn't print one.  It's not the first time this store has had this problem.  If I stop 3 times in a month, and use different pumps each time, odds are that 2 times out of 3, there won't be receipts.  So I trudged in, to ask the clerk to print one, like I usually do.

However, the clerk was busy.  Very busy.  Unbeknownst to me till I was inside, four 4-door pickups worth of construction workers (about 14, more or less) had come in the back way, and were in line ahead of me, all buying their lunch.  Even though there were two registers behind the counter, only one clerk was on duty. At high noon, with construction nearby.  I suppose in a twisted sort of logic that makes sense - the store looks busy (and prosperous) at lunchtime.  (But that manager certainly isn't worth whatever the store owners are paying him...)

About 7 minutes later, she'd taken care of 2 of the customers. They were standing around at the end of the line, waiting for their friends.  So I was "staring down the throat" of another 30-40 minutes in line, just to get my puny little gas receipt.  That's just not happening to this girl.  I stepped out of line, walked to the front, and said to the clerk "excuse me, Miss...I just....", hoping she would simply press two buttons and print a quick receipt.  But she interrupted me and instructed me to "go back and get in line, Ma'am."   (See above comment about the quality of the manager, and now add to the list his/her employees,  whose "people skills" need a whole lot of refreshing.)

Needless to say, that "lit my fuse."   A rare occurrence, and it takes a lot to do that...

In my rather loud normal - translation: male - voice (no pretense of femininity), which everyone in line could clearly hear (but carefully using politically-correct language, with no swearing or anything anti-social which could get me thrown out or arrested), I relayed to the clerk what she could tell her manager about the quality of their equipment, and their people.  And I pointed out a logical question: what does this say about whether their gas pumps (which they can't seem to keep "papered") even meet State maintenance requirements for accuracy.  Since this happens so often at this place, I added that I don't plan to return any time soon.

She looked at me angrily, like she wanted to try to defend herself from the onslaught, but couldn't get a word in edgewise during the 90 seconds or so that I "had the floor."  And the manager, who couldn't have missed overhearing my little "discussion", remained suspiciously absent.  You'd have thought he or she would come to their employee's defense.  (Perhaps I was speaking the truth and he/she didn't want to have to admit it?)  Before the clerk could say a word, I finished, turned on my heel and departed, leaving her standing there.

Remember, I was dressed androgynously as usual - women's shorts, a women's polo, Mom's necklace, bare legs, flat sandals with pink toe nails, and my purse, but no makeup, earrings or lipstick.  The boys (yes, they were all guys) were grinning, apparently having a good time listening to the clerk get chewed out by a customer.  I got lots of smiles, "way to go, Ma'am" comments, "good for you, Miss" and the like, as I left.   Guess the lunch line there must be a slow proposition for them every day - and I provided the day's entertainment!  Those guys really didn't care at all whether I was male or female...if I could break the monotony of the long wait for their lunch!

Gee, maybe I should try Karaoke now!  (More likely: probably not - every Bassett Hound and Beagle within 2 miles would be baying loudly...even on a moonless night!)

A funny coincidence with this same theme: over a year ago,  I was stopping frequently at a different station, about 12 miles from the above shop.  The very same thing was happening with their gas pumps and clerks.   One day I went in and asked for a receipt, and the clerk gave me one with an email address, to take a questionnaire about the store and service.


I usually ignore those receipt surveys, because I never know if a real live person ever gets to see the info.  But on a hunch, I went on line and answered their questions, factually and honestly, plus they gave enough space to write a little essay.  I added that if the manager's approach of making people go inside to get a receipt was a not-so-well-disguised plan to encourage folks to buy something while they're getting their receipt...they may have another think coming.  I, for one, certainly wouldn't reward them for incompetence.  Instead, I'd drive down the road a few miles to the next store to spend my snack money.

About 2 months later, I needed gas and that station's price was right, so I stopped in, fully expecting to go inside for my receipt again.  Lo and behold, the pump gave it to me!  So I stopped in a couple more times in the next couple of weeks, used different pumps, and got receipts again.  Amazing!  It's been almost a year now, and only once have I NOT received a receipt at that station.  When I told the clerk,  she called the manager to go fix it.  Nice!

I wonder if they fired that bad manager, who then trotted up the road and got hired by the other store?  Stranger things have happened in retail... 

For those of you with rail interests, here are a couple of pictures from the archive...

This engine is Pennsylvania Railroad K-4 Pacific #1361, back in March of '87, when it was under restoration at the Altoona Shops in Pennsylvania, not long after being removed from display at the Horseshoe Curve.  I managed to gain access to the shops several times back then, and got some nice pictures.  Those were better days for the briefly pulled some excursions, but broke down and has languished since then, without being fully repaired.  Rumors are the repairs are too costly to get it running again.

Bright side is, it hasn't been scrapped!

Unfortunately, I missed my chance to ride behind #1361, and that was a colossal mistake for a railfan to make.  "Shoulda just done it"... since it's still not running any more, and may never be.    Instead, I had to settle for watching the video, which I still have (in a box somewhere).  :-(




  1. Good for you dealing with the convenience store folks. I hardly ever even press the button for a gas receipt since half the time it won't work.
    Enjoy your train ride.

    1. My theory is that if you have a feature, and you don't want to operate it, tape over the buttons, the outlet for receipt, and put up a sign "out of order: on each pump. Downside is that if you do that, people will rightly wonder about their accuracy.

      A kick in the behind every once in a while may keep the clerk, and manager, awake...


  2. I'm not sure if this post went through, (if it did, please delete this one), but did you have a blog before this one? I went looking for an introduction page / how you and your wife got started, but didn't see one. Thanks for maintaining the blog with so many excellent posts.

    1. Hi Jane,

      Thanks for posting your, it didn't come through previously. So I left it here.

      I haven't written any previous blogs, and prefer to "not" go into too extensive detail regarding my family, except for the bits and pieces of life's information I leave in individual blogs. This is about me, not my family. Except perhaps, as significant interactions occur.

      But, the question you asked is valid, so I'll try to give the "two-cent" version of our life together.

      We met at a "singles" church social back in the early '80's, and dated for a few months. (Before you ask...Mandy wasn't around at that point.) Then we became engaged and soon thereafter, married.

      Our "journey together through life" has been in progress for over 30 years - through some wonderful times, periods of unemployment, tough financial times (the stress bringing about Mandy's birth in the early '90's), my changing jobs several times (which dictated moving), the death of both of her parents, as well as one of mine, and so on. You could say that we must have done something right along the way!

      And in the process, we raised a son, who is grown, on his own, and recently married! So we gain a daughter-in-law. and toward the end of the year, will hopefully become great-grandparents!

      My wife has become somewhat tolerant of my normal androgynous daily appearance, and feminine attire (long house dresses and nightgowns around the house), and perpetual girlish cues (long hair, manicured and pedicured long pink acrylic nails, and sometimes light makeup). She's come to be comfortable with me wearing pedal pushers and capri pants with flats or sandals, just like other women. On occasion, she's even told me to change to my capris instead of whatever I was wearing "because with those sandals, you'll look much nicer."

      She even tolerates us being seen as two women out together, when not around folks we know. She's fine with men holding doors for us, and is somewhat happy when men helping us with our suitcases when we're traveling. But she consistently stands firm in that I'm not to be parading around in dresses around our friends. .Go figure...

      And yes, I know I'm not alone in this situation!

      So I simply don't indulge in being Mandy at home....androgynous is the word of the day. What you see in this blog is the best I can do for now...thus I'm thankful for each opportunity I get to travel solo, It's my best chance to get quality Mandy time. And I'm fine with that...

      I hope this helps explain how we got started, and where we "are" right now. And I also hope that you'll stop by often!



  3. Oh Mandy you are so brave!

    I would not have had the mettle to speak up with all those construction workers, so good for you!

    Things like that are just disrespectful to people that are paying for a service and providing an income. Do those business not care about keeping their revenue intact?

    Well from what you wrote, it seems those construction workers sure supported you very well, as your wonderful female self!

    1. If the joint hadn't omitted the receipt paper so many times before, I "might" have ignored it and just abandoned the receipt without even going inside. But now they don't have enough clerks to handle their business. This is especially frustrating when construction is in the area.

      IMHO that manager should have pitched in to help shorten the line - there were two registers. Unless, of course, there are work rules prohibiting it. Wonder what he/she would have done if an upper management "secret shopper" was in the store, seeing the long lines, and lack of/lousy supervision?

      With any luck, the construction workers will be gone soon, and things will get back to normal. If not, the store's other regular lunch business may go away...and that's a permanent loss. (Maybe the only way to get a good manager?)

      Yes, the workers did give me a lot of support...for which I'm thankful. But remember, any entertainment while stuck in a long, unmoving line - is good entertainment.

      Would I do it again? Don't know...depends on the circumstances. Good help IS hard to find! Let's hope I never have to make that decision. I retired, so now I don't want to have to run other people's businesses! (Especially for free...LOL!)


  4. I too admire your courage to cut a line. Even if it is only for a receipt. Being in retail for 30 plus years and being often a harried and harassed restaurant manager, I always look for the situation. Good help is truly hard to find but good companies to work for are even harder.
    The poor clerk obviously was buried with no help, underpaid and lost it.

    1. Thanks for the insight, Cyrsti! I normally don't do that sort of thing - so maybe I shouldn't have. One thing is certain: Retail IS a tough industry.

      When I started working "back in the day", the first job I was offered (immediately upon graduating) was the manager of a pie shop at minimum wage. I didn't take it. (And thus was unemployed for a few months.) But I was always glad I passed on that one!

      Back to the present issue. There was no purpose being served by standing in line for 30+ minutes to get a receipt...which seems to take maybe 15 seconds and punching a couple buttons. Nor would a longer line help the incoming customers.

      Managers are supposed to be there to solve problems, right?

      The way I see it, the clerk wasn't aware of the "missing paper history" at the store, and may have even been a fill-in. Nor did she know her authoritarianism would "light my fuse."

      IMHO she should have apologized for the problem and summoned the manager, so he/she could get me the receipt "at the other register" - which wasn't in use. And then gone on with making meals. 15 seconds of her time. That would have taken all the heat off her, and been all it took... with no harm, no foul. And another happy (or at least not upset) customer. And then I would have had to tangle with the manager directly - which I might or might not have chosen to do.

      Would there have been a better way to handle it, short of just walking away? Don't know. really does sound to me like they hired the "former manager" from the other convenience store...

      I don't plan to go back there anytime soon... Their loss, my gain.