Favorite Insults – No. 7
I was just a month into my summer job at the gas station. The elderly station owners felt it necessary they have an attendant pump gas for customers. I’m not sure why. It’s not my business. It is my business that their decision gave me a real job. Seeing as how there’s less than two months before I start Junior year and real money paying jobs here are scarce. Seeing as I don’t know enough about cars yet to even do oil changes or fix the odd flat tire that Wardlow and his tow truck bring here rescuing a car that got stranded on the lonely two-lanes between the sign reading “last gas for fifty miles” and the Arizona-California border.
Well, I do know oil changes, but Wardlow hasn’t yet convinced the owners, Evelyn and Elsie Bowen, that I’m a car nut and know my stuff. I’m hoping Wardlow will champion my cause and this will become a full-time part-time job. Starting Junior year and all. Expenses, you know.
The Bowen sisters, they’re like really old. Wardlow, he’s old really, but not you know? He’s just Wardlow, a guy like me only a little older. Like twenty something or maybe thirty, but I’d be surprised.
Anyway, the Arizona sun made it difficult to be standing outside much. Most of the customers were happy to have me standing in the sun pumping their gas. Well, this guy pulls in in a pretty slick German sportster. Older guy. About as old as my dad, I guess. Probably forty-something. Old guy, anyway. He was pretty impressed with himself. You know the type. Reached for the pump nozzle. I approached him. Respectfully, I think.
“Excuse me sir, the owners here want me to pump your gas.”
“Yeah. So you expect a tip, huh?” Mr. Cocky said to me.
“No sir. It’s just my job. I’m not sure how you figger to tip someone for pumping gas, anyway.”
“Well, okay, kid. Fill’er up.”
“Want me to check the oil, sir?” I asked.
“What? Huh? Oh. No. Oil be okay.”
I started to clean the windshield.
“No need for that either,” said the old guy, “ain’t tipping.”
“No sir,” I said, still politer than I felt the old dude deserved. “Owners say it’s part of the service.”
“Geeze, what’d I do, Twilight Zone into the eighties? Pumping my gas and checking my oil and cleaning my windshield? What’s next?”
I cleaned his windshield anyway. It was kinda bug-spattered, and pretty dirty.
When Mr. Cocky came out from using the restroom I suppose, a young girl was watching Wardlow get ready to pull the flat off the front of her momma’s car. She was really young, a freshman, I would guess. Really young anyway. And kind of cute. No. Kind of real cute. One of those girls who look all studious and serious with glasses and a face that makes boys get all wormy inside. Her momma I guess was inside drinking coffee and chatting with the Bowen sisters. Maybe deciding what nicky-nackies and doodads to buy for the tall glass cabinet in the living room back home.
“Hey four-eyes,” said Mr. Cocky, obviously to the girl. “Your momma’s car got a flat?”
“Well, yes sir,” stammered the girl, caught pretty much unaware and it seemed a little flustered.
“Har, har, har,” said Mr. Cocky. “Well it’s only flat on the bottom. Top part looks to be okay!”
Mr. Cocky was pleased with himself. Thought he’d impressed me, the girl, and Wardlow. Know for a fact Wardlow wasn’t impressed. Except the dude was a customer, Wardlow might have put off loosening the lug nuts and talked to the rude lug nut who drove the expensive German import. Wardlow wasn’t the smoothest guy, but he had manners and respect.
The girl, anyway, got all frowny-faced and gave the old dude some major evil-eye. In the locker room we call that the “eat shit” look. But I’m not sure freshmen girls know much about that. She did a pretty good job.
The old guy noticed that and wisely hurried away. I think the girl might have been ready to set the dude straight.
Reading the numbers on the pump and reaching for his wallet, the old guy said to me, “Geeze what bug got up her nose?”
Polite as I could, I said, “Mister, I think you insulted her. No need for that really. Not like she called you an old fart or something.”
“What’d I say?” he asked. “You mean the crack about the tire?”
“No. I’m pretty sure she got that.”
“That four-eyes thing.”
I actually think I saw the guy blush. Coulda been the sun though. He mumbled, “I guess that was kind of stupid huh?”
I was ready. “Mister, just watching you, I’d say you’d have to study to be stupid.” I’m only sixteen, gonna be seventeen, but I been waiting all my life to use that insult. This guy made it too easy. Kind of took some of the fun out of it.
The old dude paid and left, not waiting for two dollars change. The Bowen sisters put it in the “Feed the Hungry Children” cannister. I went to pump some more gas. The sun was still hot.
© S P Wilcenski 2020
Original post on Prose July 17, 2020