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 engine...it 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). :-(