Q: Why was the young man excited about his job at the gas station?
A: Because he loved the idea of getting paid to “pump Ethyl” all day.
This dad joke was brought to you partially by my late father, and partially by me typing it. Growing up in Indiana, we always had our gas pumped by an attendant. Often times, they would also check the oil, put air in the tires, and more.
And none of it cost extra.
When I finally got a car in 1989 in California, 3 years after moving there, I noticed that everyone pumped their own gas. An attendant filling your tank would cost extra. I never spent that extra, as it was ridiculous and unaffordable, so I would always pump my own gas.
This is how things were for me until May 2019, when I moved to Oregon. It is against the law for you to pump your own gas, with a scant few exceptions on Native American properties.
Some say that it’s to protect the stupid, but that’s reductive and insulting. Rather, it’s a government jobs program.
I go to a gas station in town, and the person who pumps gas comes over. He gets my card, types in my phone number for rewards/discounts, and then gets to pumping.
Typically, I don’t really engage in conversation, and most of them are too busy to talk. But on this particular visit, it was just him and me. It was cold out and he was bored, so he decided to strike up a conversation.
“Where’d you get the jackalope?” he asked. I told him that I got it in Death Valley in 2006.
He followed this up with talk about Bigfoot. Apparently, Bigfoot is a big deal here in Oregon, and I suspect that belief in Bigfoot is mandatory if you want to live here. There is no end to the tourist trinkets featuring an artistic representation of his image.
There is even an annual Bigfoot festival, which I know you could find on Facebook. They also get into aliens and other similar topics, complete with guest “experts” on the subjects.
Jokingly, I asked him if there were Unicorns in Oregon. He replied that, “Unicorns are a European thing,” before bringing up the Loch Ness Monster. I threw in mention of Chupacabra so that I could participate. The problem was that I didn’t really want to participate in this manner.
He then told me, “The only one I really believe in is Pegasus. Those are real.”
And this is where things go off the rails.
He started ranting about the government telling us what we should believe or not believe. Truth be told, I was starting to get more than a little nervous.
He starts to appear agitated for some reason. Possibly because when he talks about certain things it gets him hyped up. I get it, as people like him have been lied to and agitated for at least the past 6 years.
“The government is completely bought by the corporations!”
Things were getting tense from my perspective. The last thing I need is for a camo-wearing, Jesus-loving redneck pumping gas at 6am to figure out that I’m not one of his people.
I knew that I had to say something. Telling jokes is what I tend to do when things get tense, although sometimes it backfires. I had to take a shot, since there was an uncomfortable pause.
“Those assholes are SO bought and paid for that they fart exact change.”
He didn’t laugh, because he feels a sense of despair, most likely about things that he’s told and not things that are actually happening. His life would be so much happier without all of those conspiracies weighing on him.
He continued his rant. “Those jokers [in the gov’t] love telling us what to do. Want to work here? Get the jab. Want to go somewhere? Get the jab. Wear a mask! Wear a mask!!” He was getting rather frothy, and I was out of ideas.
Fortunately, the pump clicked off, indicating that it was done. He gave me my receipt and said, “Happy new year.” I said it back to him before driving away.
IN THE END
I suspect that he realized that he couldn’t rant with me for hours on end, since he was at work, so he just did it until the tank was full.
It is my understanding that people like me are viewed as a threat by people like him. While I don’t declare myself a Leftist, I do happen to agree with many Leftist ideas. I am certain that he believes President Biden is a Leftist, when he’s actually Right-of-Center.
Also, being an Atheist out here is not a safe thing.
In other words, they don’t take kindly to people who aren’t like them.
And so I continue to hide in the shadows, hoping that I don’t get found out. Conversation with the locals is a sure-fire way of getting found out, mostly because I would more than likely out myself in the process. My Autism is such that I have to struggle to add filters to my speech.
I consider it to be a pop quiz of sorts, where I had to perform on-the-spot and under pressure.
It was a close call, but I am fine. I get to live to see another day in Mayberry.
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