the curious case of the filling station incident
7:54am on a quiet Monday morning. Quiet because it's New Year's Eve. I have just put £15 into a hire car prior to returning the vehicle.
There's just one gentleman is in front of me paying. He has a fuel card so he's asked for his registration. He can't remember this so looks out to the forecourt to check. Maybe this is a hire car too although that seems unlikely as it's an ancient, brown, battered Volvo estate. No problem. Then he's asked for his mileage which he doesn't know. This is optional so no problem.
He leaves and I advance to pay my £15.02.
'Morning. I'm on Pump 8.'
Cashier hits a button and asks me 'Sorry, what pump did you say ?'
'Pump 8. £15.02'.
The cashier then spontaneously closes the till, grabs a high visibility jacket, mutters 'Sorry, Sir' and runs outside to the forecourt where the gentleman who just paid for petrol is slowly getting into the passenger seat of the Volvo.
I stand and watch the shutters slowly coming down as another member of staff refills this hot tray with pasties. I sigh inwardly as I realise what has happened. Still, no problem. I'm not in a hurry and those pasties do smell lovely.
The Volvo passenger slowly returns to the till.
The panting cashier removes his high-vis jacket and says:-
'Sir, you can either pay £5 or cancel the original transaction and start again'.
The gentleman looks puzzled and remarks in a manner eerily reminiscent of Roy Hodgson when he was hauled before the world's press and sporting media after England's defeat to Iceland.
'Sorry – dunno. I don't really know why I'm even here'.
I helpfully offer:-
'I think you've paid for my petrol instead of yours'.
'Oh – well I ain't got any cash so we'd gonna have to cancel and try again'.
The long, drawn out transaction is re-keyed. The man studiously avoids eye contact.
Finally, he has successfully managed to pay for petrol and a copy of the Sun newspaper.
As he finally declines his VAT receipt, he catches my eye as he turns to go.
'No problem, mate. Don't mention it'.
'Mention what ?'
'Well, you've delayed me for 5 minutes just because you paid for the wrong petrol pump'.
'Not my fault, mate, so nothing to say sorry for.'
So now, in this festive season filled with the spirit of goodwill to all men, this wasn't the best thing to say to me at 08:04 on a Monday morning.
All it needed was a quick, polite word on the way out.
'Sorry, mate. Bit early in the morning for me. Not had my morning coffee yet.'
'Sorry, mate but I forgot to check the pump number. Happy New Year !'
'Sorry mate, Dave normally pays but he's busy phoning the depot'.
But no, he couldn't just bring himself to mutter the word 'Sorry'.
Instead he points at the cashier and says:-
'Anyway, it was all his fucking fault'.
'Come on. You fill a car up with petrol. You're supposed to know the pump number or the amount.'
'I'm just the passenger. Dave asked me to pay.'
'Yeah – but look. There's your car and there's a massive NUMBER THREE above your petrol pump. It's not his job to monitor what pump you've used'.
'So what am I supposed to do ? Ask Dave how much I've put in ? Oh yeah – that'll work. Let's try that, shall we ?'
Then the man walks to the automatic doors and bellows to Dave. Amusingly, the automatic doors kept opening and closing on him which angered him even more.
'HOW MUCH FUCKING PETROL HAVE YOU PUT IN DAVE ? DAVE ! DAVE ! HOW MUCH DO I HAVE TO PAY ? DAVE – HOW MUCH FUCKING PETROL ?!'
And with that, he left and got into the passenger seat and Dave drove off.
The cashier then shrugged his shoulders and said 'Sorry' to me as I advanced to pay for my own petrol at pump 8 which totalled £15.02.
I then apologised to a rather perplexed and anxious looking lady for the delay as she purchased her last unleaded fuel of 2018 as the shutters were slowly raised again.