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Paying ‘cash money’ for gas source of ‘mortified humiliation, shame’

Dave McElhinny
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A man can only be pushed so far before he snaps and does something “ghastly and abhorrent.”

It all started last week when I jumped into my wife’s car to run a quick errand. As I started down the road, that familiar dinging sound began chiming in that mocking tone and I stifled a curse since my youngest son was with me. For the past two decades, I have never, ever gotten into my wife’s vehicle when it wasn’t on empty. She truly has an uncanny ability to drive a car until it has just a squirt of fuel remaining in the tank, then she parks it and waits for me to discover it.

So I was forced to wheel into the gas station where I quickly realized I left my wallet at home. But I had a few bucks on me and found a few more in the glove box. Most of us simply swipe our card and go. In fact, it’s probably the first time in a decade that I had to pay cash and I hadn’t realized that the rules had changed.

I went inside the store, waited in a long line and then told the cashier that I would like to fill up my tank and then come in and square up when I’m done since I don’t know how much gas it will take.

She did an actual double-take and I’m pretty sure a woman in line behind me actually gasped at my question.

Little did I know that my request is at the top of the list of gasoline taboos.

The disgusted cashier looked me up and down like I was some sort of con artist and shook her head at me in disapproval like my fourth-grade teacher, Miss Glenn, when I attempted to sharpen my pen in the pencil sharpener.

The cashier then pointed to a sign on the wall that read in a threatening font, “You must prepay in advance!”

But my money was in the car and I had just waited in that line, so I figured I could easily win her over as I would enchant her with some harmless flirting, bending her to my will where she would ignore the rule for me. So I flashed a winning smile, plopped an elbow on the counter, gave her “the look” and asked, “Can I prepay … after?”

She was not only immune to my charm, but she cited rules and regulations, using the term “unlawfully illegal,” shaming me in front of the people in line behind me who seemed amused as I endured the tirade.

So … I went back outside, scrapping some cash together, several dollars of it from loose change in the cup holder, came back inside, picked a nice safe amount that I was sure my tank could hold, $14.58 to be exact, and then trudged back outside, almost slipping on “frozen ice,” to finish the transaction, my plan to circumvent the prepay system a dismal failure.

To make matters worse, I had to endure all of this humiliation because of a sign that isn’t even grammatically correct.

The prepay sign, which is known as tautology to word nerds like me, ranks right up there with “If it’s in stock, we have it,” “Unsolved mystery” or “Free gift.”

You see, in grammar, tautology is a statement that is “repetitious and redundant” in nature. The sign at the gas station needed to either read “You must prepay” or “You must pay in advance.” But both?

“I, myself, personally” considered going back inside to give the cashier a “short summary” about tautology and how the sign unnecessarily “repeats itself, over and over” … but I was kind of afraid of her.

So then I decided that I would go home and give my wife a piece of my mind for once again leaving the car “empty and void” of gas. But, I know how that would go because when it comes to pointing out flaws, I’ve got a lot more targets than she has and that could get ugly for me in a hurry.

But still, I had to do something. I had to make a stand. I’m a grown man! So I did what any guy who needs to prove his manhood would do. That’s right, I reset all of her radio stations. That’s how I roll.

Good luck finding K-Love now!

Dave McElhinny is the North Bureau Chief for the Tribune-Review. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @DaveMcTrib.

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