Posted in Life

Pump your gas!

I saw this sticker attached to a gas pump at Keith’s Superstore in Semmes, Alabama.

My imagination shifted into high gear as I pictured the scenarios that prompted a convenience store manager to make and affix this sticker. Does this happen a lot in rural Alabama?

When Cletus pulled up to the pump in his big old F250, he told his wife, “We’re almost empty, so put eighty bucks on pump two.” When they both got back into the truck with surprisingly good coffee and a bag of snacks, they buckled up and pulled back out onto the road. Glancing down, he saw the gas gauge pointing to the E.” “Crap.” After a quick u-turn, they pulled back in, only to find an old Cadillac pulling away from pump two with a full tank. After a long, angry, red-faced conversation with the cashier and store manager, Otis walked out with $20 in change.

Or it could have been that time when Lilly answered her phone as she swiped her card at the pump. She punched in her zip code, unscrewed the gas cap, and was just about to press economy when she exclaimed, “Are you kidding me? OK, I’ll be right there.” As she pulled away Emmet pulled up in his old Crown Victoria, saw the pump ready to go. All he said was, “Sweet,” as he filled up his tank.

Jake usually tried once a week, when he saw a new cashier at the register. “Hey doll, this is embarrassing, but I gave the other guy fifty dollars this morning and never pumped my gas. I had this killer migraine and had to go home. I’m feeling better now, so can you set up pump five for me?” His story rarely worked, but he kept on trying.

I’ve heard a few stories of people who forgot to disconnect the nozzle from their car and drove off, tearing the hose off the pump. Others, thinking they could squeeze a few more ounces into the tank ended up with a puddle of gas on the ground around their car.

I want to meet the guy or gal who prepaid and forgot to pump.

Posted in children, shopping

A convenience and a delight!

At some point while raising my childen, a trip to the “corner store” became a special destination. I think we went there as a reward for good behavior, maybe after a good report card, or sometimes combined with a trip to the library. The corner store was nothing more than the gas station convenience store a few miles down the road. At least that’s how it looked through my adult eyes. Why does it have a special appeal when you’re growing up?

Just walk in the door and you’ll remember. It’s aisles and aisles of candy, cookies, soda, icees, chips, nuts, hot dogs, donuts, and ice cream. It’s every treat you can imagine crammed into a very small piece of real estate, practically heaven on earth. Even as an adult, just walk in the door and your eyes are drawn to coffee, beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets, as well as all the things listed above. Like I said, heaven on earth!

These folks know what they are doing. They know that as soon as you walk past all of that on your way to the bathroom, you’ll definitely buy something on the way out. The store won’t make much money on gas, but the profit on snacks and soda is huge.

Yes, these folks know what they are doing. That’s why the Buc-ees franchise will do very well as it moves out of Texas into other states, including my home state of Florida. Before long, we’ll have two Buc-ees within half an hour drive of my home.

Yes, technically Buc-ees is a gas station convenience store, but it is about the size of three Walmart stores. It has all the heavenly treats mentioned above plus clothing, furniture, souvenirs, toys, sporting goods, tools and automotive supplies and more. Though we stopped at Buc-ees just outside of Dallas to fuel up for our ride home, we left with nuts, barbecue sandwiches, some homemade potato chips, kolachis and a tub of chicken salad. And we saw Buc-ee the beaver himself, who was making an appearance at the store. Buc-ees is much more than a convenience store. It’s a destination for a fun family outing. Yes, everything is bigger in Texas, espcially the convenience store.

I remember when a 7-11 was built in my hometown of Ridley Park probably sometime in the 1960’s. We thought that was the coolest thing ever. Imagine, a convenience store open from early in the morning til late at night! You could go just about any time to get milk or bread or soda. And they had Slurpees. They were new and they were fantastic! I don’t know how they made them then and I don’t know how they make them now, but I still think they are delicious.

Just a few years ago, the Wawa chain began building stores in Florida. People here went berserk. I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was. I grew up a few miles from the dairy farm that would become the “town” of Wawa. Back then, life was shifting from having milk delivered to your home in a glass container (now that was convenience!) to going to a Wawa store to buy a gallon in a plastic jug.

As a grown-up, I mostly avoid convenience stores. For me they are a necessary travel evil. Sometimes the bathrooms are clean-ish. But not often. Sometimes the coffee is tolerable. But not often. Sometimes you get to see Buc-ee the beaver. But not often. However, the kid in me is hopeful.