Friday, June 1, 2012

My lucky day at the gas station

It seems like every time I think of something interesting to write about the story ends up making me look like the idiot. This post is no different. I usually consider myself to be pretty intelligent but you can see from my occasional lapses in judgment that I keep my brain pretty well in check with poor decision making.
So a couple years ago I was driving home from work and was low on gas. I decided to stop at the Johnson Creek exit off of I-205 to hit the Fred Meyer gas station. This is typically a pretty congested area at rush hour, but the low fuel light was on and the only gas stations between Freddy’s and my house are terribly overpriced.
So I exit the freeway and take a right down toward 82nd Ave. The plan is to cross 82nd in the far right lane (there are two left turn lanes and two straight lanes) then turn right into the Fred Meyer parking lot. I’m in luck because there are only about 10 cars in front of me waiting at the red light and…dumb-frocking-luck!...the light turns green as I’m approaching. As I draw near the line is doing what all lines do at green lights, namely, it’s stretching out like an inch worm as each driver slowly reacts to the car in front of it. (Sidenote: I fantasize nearly every day that just one time when the light turns green every driver in line will start moving forward all at once in a synchronized motion thereby saving everyone valuable seconds which over the course of my life would save me a day or two). I happen to be the very best driver ever to sit behind the wheel of a Galapagos Green 2003 Honda Element (insert bread box or toaster joke here)... I have my speed measured out just right so that I won’t have to brake when the guy immediately in front of me starts moving. It’s then I begin to realize that my plan has been foiled. As I approach I can see that the maroon pickup in front of me isn’t moving at all. As I draw even nearer I see him turn on his turn signal. Great.
Blink…blink…blink…goes his signal. He’s not moving. I finally have to hit the brakes as I approach. He just sits there. A car tries to let him in. He’s too timid to take advantage of it. That car passes, another tries…same result. I throw up my hands and say to myself “come on!” I see his beady little eyes in his rearview mirror. He sits there…blinker blinking. There are cars lining up behind me. The light turns yellow. He flips me off. The light turns red. He moves over to the straight-only lane immediately left of where he was. Great..he’s just prevented 8 cars (most importantly ME) from making this light and he’s going straight through this light anyway…wait a second. Did he flip me off?

I pull up next to him and roll down my window. He doesn’t roll his down. “Why did you flip me off?” He holds up his fist. At this point I size him up. He’s kind of a squatty, nerdy dude in a t-shirt that’s a little too tight for his beer belly. He may or may not live in his mom’s basement and he’s probably 37 years old. Wait…did he just raise his fist at me like he wanted to hit me? I mouth as I’m doing hand motions to communicate through his window “roll down your window (making circular motion with my closed hand) so we can talk (making an opening and closing motion with my fingers and thumb like a sock puppet) about why (I shrug my shoulders) you (I point at him) flipped me off (I point at my middle finger).” He holds up his fist again. “Oh, I see (pointing at my eyes). You’re a real brainiac (I point at my temple). “ He points to the gas station. “Okay. I’m (pointing at me) going to the gas station (I make a nozzle-like motion then point to the gas station) to get gas. You (pointing at his stubby little figure) can follow me (I wave him over like we’re playing red rover) if you want.”
The light turns green and I go to the gas station. I look in my side view and see he’s followed me. Great. So I know I’m going to have to get out and go talk to this idiot to make sure he doesn’t follow me home. Time to go into defuse mode. I get out my credit card so I can start getting gas before walking over to talk to this numb nuts. I turn to the attendent at my window…oh crap. That’s no attendent. That’s Stubs McFistyfart.
Him: “You’d better think twice about who you threaten.” He’s still not intimidating me, honestly, but he’s probably off his rocker so I try to swallow the sarcasm I want to use. This is a critical point and something that didn’t come naturally.
Me: “You think I threatened you? You flipped me off. Tell me how you think I threatened you.”
Him: “You were tailgating me.”
Me: “Do you know what tailgating means? You were at a complete stop at a green light. How could I have been tailgating you? Tailgating implies that you were actually moving.”
Him: “You’re lucky I just got out of prison or I would drag your a—out of that car and beat the living sh-- out of you.”
Me: (Well this just took an unexpected twist. I wonder if he could actually do it). “I guess it must be my lucky day then.”
Him: “Yeah, I guess it is.” He starts to walk away, looks back and says “you’d better think about who you threaten.”
Me: “I DIDN’T THREATEN YOU. GET A GRIP.” Did I really say “GET A GRIP”? No, but I think I said something in my head like “holy s…that was as close one. And these business casual threads ain’t fightin’ clothes.”
I watched him drive away as far as the eye can see to make sure he couldn’t follow me home.
This is what he would look like if he was in a giant diaper and was fatter and less beardy...and had a soul:

Oh, remember how his little truck just sat there blinking at the light? Well that’s exactly the opposite of what his eyes did when he was (note the irony) threatening me. This dude was calm and cold. I was full of adrenaline and thinking about how to use the door of my toaster as a first strike weapon. I had just figured it would take about 15 seconds of me holding my own before a gaggle of gas station attendents would break up the fight and call the police when he started walking away.
To quote Headliner from Arrested Development in their smash hit ‘People Everyday’: The moral of story is you’d better look very hard at who you step into. You might get killed or shot and it’s not worth it. Africans need to be loving each other and you’re not.
Wait a second. I told you I was going to look like the idiot in this story. Nevermind about that, I’m obviously the hero.

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