The ARCO from hell and the two-dollar-bill retribution. Another lame Black Friday.


Black Friday means one thing to me: DO NOTHING.




For the second day-after-Thanksgiving out of the last three, I did nothing. But this is by design. I refuse, refuse, REFUSE, to share the streets, aisles, floors, with the mad American shoppers. Too many crazed, wild-eyed consumers; too many people who would rather sit out in the cold on the nicest, most relaxing day of the year. I can’t even consider spending any appreciable amount of time in the vicinity of someone like that. I value my sanity.


So Black Friday means only one thing for this wild-eyed misanthropic blogger: stay home.


Sometimes, I do make an exception.


Yesterday, my car was down to its last 13 miles of gas (give or take 12), and foreseeing that I would need to drive about 10 miles early this morning, I decided I needed to, 1) get cash in order to, 2) fill ‘er up.


Afterwards, my delicious plan was to come straight home, sit in front of the computer, do some household chores, and not leave the house, nor indulge in those activities that make it seem you still haven’t lost your marbles (showering, brushing teeth, getting some fresh air and sun). My day was mapped out.


I visited my local no-fees ATM machine and on the way passed a store whose sidewalk was lined with early morning shoppers-in-wait. How early did they get there to line up at the front, I wondered. And why? Is it that important you get such a deal from a store that promises never to charge you one dollar or more for any of the merchandise on its shelves? I’m convinced that Black Friday isn’t about deals as much as it is about shared, collective lunacy, a capitalistic frenzy of mass madness. I drove by these losers and took out my money.


Now the reason I pay cash for my gas is that I prefer ARCO gas stations. Their prices are usually a tad lower than the larger chains, and it seems one reason may be that they do not accept credit cards. If you want some ARCO gas, you better have cash or an ATM card in hand. I’m fine with this. Anything to minimize my gasoline bill. There’s a neighborhood ARCO I’ve used for ages, but recently I’ve begun visiting another one because they seem to cost about a penny or two less. I’m such a fickle gas bitch.




My new ARCO mistress
My new ARCO mistress




No loyalty from me. No sir.


I’m a gas whore and I will betray my closest gas station wife for the sake of one cent. It’s a disgrace and shamelessness is my fuel!


Whereas the ARCO I’ve been faithful to for years treats me steadily and dependably, the new ARCO is a cunt.


The first time I gassed up there, about a month ago, I decided to put all the cash in my pocket to gas – $24 of it.


I was running on fumes and I knew 24 bucks would not fill up my tank, but it would buy me a week or two (I don’t drive very often). I pulled up to pump # 12 and carried my money to the counter. I have this very bad habit of talking too fast when ordering anything and many times, I speak like a total retard in such situations. I speak in an irregular and chaotic cadence and frequently, the cashiers don’t understand what I said. I’m constantly being asked to repeat my order. So, with this in mind, I made sure to slow down and speak clearly. I made sure to enunciate. I told the kid, “Hi…twenty-four…dollars…on…number…twelve.” He looked at me with a tinge of confidence, so I walked away assured. While the gas nozzle pumped steadily into my tank, I stood by and began to zone and was startled when the pump began counting down slowly, indicating it had neared the prepaid total.


But it was too soon!


Sure enough, my pump was only going to give me $12, not $24. The moron cashier got it wrong, despite the fact I deliberately slowed down my verbal gait. I marched back in and explained what happened and the stupid expression on his face did not fill me with confidence this time around. After explaining what happened again, he mumbled that I should go back, turn of the pump and come back in so he could enter another payment of $12. Sigh. I went back to the pump, did as he told, walked impatiently back to his counter and said, “OK.” Back to the pump I went and entered the second half of my $24 order. What should have taken a couple of minutes took almost five.


Nevertheless, in a fit of masochistic optimism, I drove back to this ARCO yesterday, $200, warm from the ATM, in hand.


It was early on Black Friday. All sane people were asleep or drinking coffee at the computer, the psychotic people were braving hordes of bargain shoppers, and the morons were putting gas in their cars.


The gas station was empty and being the creature of habit, I once again pulled up to pump # 12.


When I entered the station, I was pleased to note that the mathematician from my previous $24/$12 visit was not manning the cashier. Now it was an older dark Hispanic man with aquiline features. He very well might have been Indian, but after I handed him $60 which I had just fished out of my ATM stash, he looked slightly displeased and said “OK” with a Spanish accent. His brows furrowed and something about him annoyed the shit out of me. I can’t say what it was.


Now I realize three $20 bills was probably overkill, but that’s the way I roll. Of course gas prices have plummeted and it no longer requires between $40.01 and $60 to fill up a small 4-cylinder tank, but I’m not the type of guy to take chances when it comes to filling my gas tank. I want to be confident that I will be able to top it off, even beyond the acceptable safety limits of overfill, and if it means that I must temporarily part with an extra $20 bill, so be it. Consider it a deposit for chrissakes.


Sure enough, I engorged my gas tank right to the $36 mark. I went back in for my $24 in change and it occurred to me that everything about this damned gas station, and my experiences with it, involved $24 and all other amounts divisible by $12.


I told the man that I was ready for my change from pump 12 and he made some condescending dark face (the complexion, he can’t help that part) and said something about me giving too much money and seemed to hint that it was ridiculous I gave him that much money. He made a big production of gathering my change, still saying something like it would be nice if I didn’t give him so much money.


What the fuck, you asshole? Since it was early on day 2 of my 4 off, I was in a reasonably good mood and refrained from arguing or being an ass. Apparently it was a struggle for him to get out that extra fifth bill. As opposed to giving me back four $1 bills, he would now have to throw in the extra $20. Heaven forbid I would give him an extra microsecond of work to do! His face, those little beady eyes and preachy demeanor…he needed to be slapped. “It would be nicer if you took credit cards here,” I snarked ineffectually and walked out.


As I headed to my car, I realized he had the last laugh.


Instead of giving me five bills of change, thanks to my overbearing and useless $20, he still managed to give me 4 bills and cut out that microsecond of work I had caused him. He gave me a two-dollar bill. Bastard!


They still circulate this crap?




Two dollar bill