The Ecphorizer

Gas War
Bill Harvey

Issue #34 (June 1984)



This morning, I was at my local gas station, making my contribution to the care and feeding of Arabs and oil company executives. I do this only under great duress, caused by the fact that my car won't go unless I give it gasoline. I usually put the [quoteright'/>gas in very slowly in a probably futile attempt to make the car believe that it's getting more gas than it actually does. Don't try to tell ME those things are inanimate. Anything that can be as subtly sadistic as a car is not mere nuts and bolts.

By the way, I'm not just knuckling under to the oil companies. No sir. I'm fighting back. I've done some extensive research and development and I think that I have the answer. Right in my backyard. I'm growing a gasoline bush. Time to take the money out of the pockets of the Arabs and put in the pockets of the farmers, where it belongs.

Anyway, I was standing there, trickling gas into the seemingly bottomless tank of my car, when a little car pulled up on the other side of the island. A bespectacled kid of about twelve jumped out of the car before it stopped rolling and ran around the back to the gas filler cap. The kid was evidently afraid that someone in the gas station wouuld beat him to the pump and fill up the car before he got a chance to, even though it was a self-service station. Ah, the blissful ignorance of youth. The woman who was driving rolled down her window and yelled at the top of her lungs "WAIT! WAIT!"

The woman opened the door on her side, screamed "wait" six more times, then said, "He said the car gets 20 miles to the gallon, and we have to go, let's see, 20, 40, 60, 80, 100 miles, so that's let's see, 1,2,3,4,5 gallons. Put in five gallons". The kid, having barely restrained himself through all of this, grabbed the hose and started to put it in the filler tube.

"WAIT!" screamed the woman, causing the kid to drop the nozzle on his toe. "Maybe this car doesn't need unleaded." She looked around inside the car. "Here it is - 'this car uses unleaded gasoline'. Go ahead. 5 gallons." The kid stopped hopping up and down on one foot and collected the hose from where he had dropped it. He put the nozzle in the filler tube.

"WAIT!" screamed the woman. The kid dropped the hose again, but, through adroit choreography, managed to miss his toe this time. "Shit. This pump is in litres. How are we going to put in five gallons?" She looked at me, and realized that she had said the "S" word. I almost said "No speak English" to make her feel better, but decided to hell with it. As the blush, caused by the "S" word, faded from her face, she looked at the top of the pump. It said that there were about 3.875 litres to the gallon. "Let's see now, that means that there are a little less than 4 litres to the gallon, so if we multiply five gallons by a little less than 4 we get a little less than twenty. Go ahead. Put in a little less than twenty litres."

The kid stood there expectantly.

"Well? What are you waiting for? Go ahead. A little less than twenty litres."

The kids' knuckles whitened on the nozzle. You could almost see the numbers in the windows quivering. The kid took a deep breath.

"WAIT!" bellowed the woman, the kid, now a veteran, allowed a superior smirk to cross his face. This time, he didn't even flinch. "I have a better way. The sign says that gas is a dollar twenty something a gallon. Five gallons will cost 5 times a dollar twenty something. Put in, let's see, six dollars and fifty cents.

Grasping opportunity by the horns, the kid immediately squeezed the handle. Nothing happened. The woman noticed. "You have to turn the pump on, silly." She did so. The kid, trying to pull victory from defeat, immediately squoze the handle.

"WAIT!"

Two cents worth of gas had already gushed into the car before the kid could react. With a superhuman effort, he released the handle of the nozzle.

"The man said that this car gets twenty or TWENTY FIVE miles to the gallon. If we get twenty five, we'll only need four gallons ...."

I really wanted to stay around and see what would finally happen, but my car was full, and I began to feel like a fool standing there with the nozzle in the filler and no gas going in, so I reluctantly hung up the hose and put my gas cap back on. As I got into my car to go pay for my gas, I took one more look at the kid. I don't think I'll ever forget him.

Under the spectacles of that twelve year old kid were the eyes of a sixty year old man.

Contributor Profile

Bill Harvey

BILL HARVEY used to submit his material to us with increasingly exorbitant demands for payment. One dollar, five dollars -- who knows where it would have ended? He is now satisfied with mere fame.




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