Gas station stories

The grocery store I usually go to has its own gas station out front, right by the bus stop where I wait to ride home after shopping. At the bus stop with my groceries and nothing better to do, and I noticed a man in a pick-up truck at one of the pumps.


& links

Oct. 29, 2022

There's nothing to notice about that, just another white dude in another pick-up, but he and his truck had been there a while. That's what caught my minimal attention. He didn't even seem to be in the process of getting out to pump gas, and the station is entirely self-serve.

As I watched and wondered, he picked something up, and stared at it. His cell phone, presumably, though I couldn't see, and he simply sat there, in the cab of his truck, at a gas pump.

There were other things in my consciousness, dull questions like Where's my damned bus? and Will these generic fish sticks be any good? and How bad will everything get after Republicans take control of Congress?

 After a few minutes of my mundane inner monologue, I glanced again at the gas station, and that man was still sitting in his pick-up truck, scrolling through the entire internet. 

It had been ten minutes since I'd first noticed him, but then he finally stepped out and walked around and started pumping his gas. He was wearing a cowboy hat, of course.

Where have you gone, good manners? It's a huge and busy gas station, with five cement islands, four pumps on each island, and at that moment a perpetual chain of cars at the pumps, with more cars behind them waiting for their turn. Lots of cars and trucks pumping, and four or five more cars circling, idling, waiting for their turn at the pumps, and that dude didn't give a damn.

The fucking gall, I said to myself, but part of me also thinks it's cool that he does what he wants and doesn't care. 

You're right, that was a pointless story. It's the first of three from that gas station, from three different days. Other than happening there, these stories have nothing in common except that they're pointless.

The second one, coming up next, is my favorite.

I'd done my shopping, came out carrying my grocs, and I could hear screaming as soon as the store's electric door slid open.

Screams are commonplace in urban America. If you live in a city, you hear screams almost any time you venture outside, but these screams were a ways away, so I was unconcerned.

There's no walkway from the store to the bus stop, except across the large parking lot, and then you walk between the plethora of pumps at what might be the world's busiest gas station.

As I approached, the screams were in front of me, so I scanned the bus stop, behind the gas station, looking for the crazy. That's usually where crazy waits, but the bus stop was deserted, and the screams continued, from an unknown point in front of me. It was something about women, and the voice was female.

At the gas station, I spotted the screamer — about 30 years old, white, and belting it out full blast, while pumping gas into her car. Well, there's something you don't see every day.

"I'm not even here pumping gas!" was her first sentence that made sense to me, although obviously she was there and pumping gas.

More than the words, what got me was that she looked normal. Screamers are always the homeless, the bums, but this woman was no bum. She was pumping gas into a nice, newish car, and she was dressed like sane people dress — blue jeans, a clean, colorful blouse, even a cute little bonnet.

"You want to fuck me?" she screamed next, looking directly at me, but I absolutely did not. As a rule for me, sex is out of the question if a woman is screaming before we even start.

I did not say that, though. Discretion is the better part of being a smartass, so I simply kept walking past her, toward the bus stop. And she kept screaming.

The people at the other pumps were pretending to ignore her, too. It's the one thing everyone agrees on in modern life: Let's pretend to ignore the screamers.

"Everyone can have a piece of me!" was another line she shouted, but her rant was so loud, it was so weird a situation, and happening so fast, most of her words seemed incoherent, to me. Once I'd reached the bus stop, though, had a chance to simply lean and listen and watch, clearly she wasn't incoherent at all. 

"Welcome to the new Christian nationalist America," she shouted and I scribbled it into my notebook, "where I don't have any rights. I am breeding stock, not a human being!"

If I'd come out of the store a minute earlier, gotten to the bus stop that much sooner, I could've taken more comprehensive notes. Sorry, but the show was mostly over by the time I had access to my pen and pad.

She finished pumping her gas, and the scream about being breeding stock was her last line, before stepping into her car. She drove away gently, with no screeching tires and no further screaming.

I don't think that woman was mentally ill, and enough of her screaming registered with me, that I think I understand her message.

She's furious about the Supreme Court overruling any woman's right to have an abortion instead of having a baby, and she's invented a new form of protest, or a style I hadn't seen before. She screams, while going about her ordinary routine. It makes people uncomfortable as hell, but they notice. Maybe it makes people think. At least, I hope that's what she was doing at the gas pumps. 

Freedom of speech becomes freedom to scream. Does she do the same screaming any time she's out in public — at the grocery store, waiting in line at a fast-food joint, etc? If so, excellent

Do it at the wrong place or for too long and you'll get arrested for disturbing the peace, but if she picks her moments, knows when to turn down the volume, it's brilliant, ain't it? All that hollering has to be painful for her throat, but I imagine it's cathartic, and it definitely gets people's attention.

Or maybe she's batty, but I love it either way.

This third story isn't much at all. It's not even a story, really. It's simply something I saw, standing at the bus stop, looking at the gas station.

A white woman was pumping gas, and a teenage boy, presumably her son, had gotten bored sitting in the car. He came out and stood near his mom, while flipping a water bottle into the air and catching it. Then, again. Then, higher.

It began to wow me. He tossed the bottle up and caught it a dozen times, and sometimes it loop-de-looped or even double loop-de-looped, and still he caught it casually, then tossed it again.

I did such tricks when I was a kid, but usually with a pen or a pencil not a water bottle, and never as smoothly as this kid. This was almost sideshow quality. Like, put out a tin can for tips.

My bus was approaching, so I applauded, and when he looked at me I yelled, "Are you always that good or just on a lucky streak?" 

He heard me, stopped the tossing and said nothing for so long I thought he wasn't going to answer, but just as the bus pulled up and opened its doors he shouted back at me, "I am always that good."

And now,
the news you need,
whether you know it or not

"Criminalizing kindness": US woman arrested for feeding homeless people sues 

Americans die younger in states run by conservatives, study finds 

Lessons Elon Musk is about to learn. Now he owns Twitter, and it's going to be a shit-show.

Lost John Steinbeck essay about American democracy published 

One-word newscast,
because it's the same news every time…

Climate change isn't 'coming', it's underway. It'll kill billions, and we're not doing squat about it. 



All cops are bastards, or they know who the bastard cops are and do nothing about it, which is the same thing. 



Republicans are the enemy of common sense, common decency, simple truth, and democracy. 










Other links I liked

How baseball killed day games for the World Series 

2030, as predicted in 1930 

How Australia got Big Tech to pay for news content 

Breaking news 

IKEA's crimes against cartography: To ensure that shoppers traverse every aisle, they make the store one long contiguous path.

E-bikes with no public subsidies. A day pass for the equivalent of 98 cents. Unlimited 90-minute rides for $14 per year. How does Stockholm do it?

Houses in scary movies 

Radioactive Boy Scout 

♦ ♦ ♦

♫♬  Mix tape of my mind  ♫

• "Great Balls of Fire" by Dolly Parton

• "Rainbow Connection" by The Chicks 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

The End 

Vanilla Beane 

Jerry Lee Lewis 

Lenny Lipton 

John Jay Osborn Jr 


Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...


  1. There is zero, zilch, nada - no reason for MLB to have a day game for the World Series. There are at most seven of them, and more people home to watch, and see those ads, after 7:15 PM Eastern, or later.

  2. Understood, and *short-term* financially, I agree.

    Long-term, though, maybe you remember this like I do? I didn't give a hoot about baseball until 1968, maybe 1969, when our teacher wheeled a TV into the classroom to show us the World Series -- day games. 35 kids learned about baseball, and at least one of them (me) became a fan.

    That can't happen now, and maybe that's (yet another reason) why baseball's popularity is dwindling.


The site's software sometimes swallows comments. For less frustration, send an email and I'll post it as a comment.