Last Tuesday, Aisling and I dropped off Meelyn at work and then stopped off at a gas station on our way back home to fill up the van's tank. It was one of those wet and windy days often seen at the end of October and I didn't feel like getting out of the vehicle in a pair of nice shoes to pump the gas myself, so I pulled up next to the station's full-service pump.
The attendant who came up to my driver's side window was a young guy who looked to be in his early twenties, a very handsome person indeed. More like an Abercrombie model than a humble gas station employee. He was very friendly and smiled at both me and Aisling (but more at her, naturally) as I told him that I wanted twenty dollars of the eighty-seven octane.
"Okay!" he said cheerfully, and went to open the fuel door at the side of the van. I got out my wallet to remove a couple of tens, chatting with Aisling in the meantime.
The next thing I knew, he had popped his face back into the window -- which was right next to my face -- and was growling, "GIMME YOUR MONEY!" in a voice that sounded like a cross between Hulk Hogan and John Wayne Gacy. Or at least what I imagine John Wayne Gacy's voice sounded like, which would be the voice of a whackjob homocidal maniac with a penchant for burying people in his basement.
It startled me, like, a LOT. I dropped my wallet and swiveled my head around so fast, it's a wonder I didn't dislodge a vertebrae. The gas station attendant bent over double laughing, holding onto the pump to keep from tumbling onto the ground. Aisling, likewise, was overcome with hilarity and sat there gasping, tears of mirth rolling down her cheeks.
"I'm sorry," the attendant said, heaving himself off the gas pump with a few final chortles. "I didn't know that would scare you that bad."
I managed a weak smile. "Dude, you are lucky I didn't bust out my taekwondo moves on you and chop you right in the windpipe."
"She thinks it's funny," he said, pleased with himself, pointing to Aisling, who was hiccuping and drying her eyes with a tissue.
"Yeah, well, it's always funny until someone's trachea collapses and then what are you going to do?" I said pertly.
"Aw, I'm tough. I've had that happen to me before. I used to be a prison guard," he offered, preening himself a bit as youngsters in their twenties are apt to do when they've got a female audience.
"Really? Why'd you quit? I think your powers for scaring the bejabers out of people would come in really handy in a prison situation," I observed, handing him my money.
He put my bills into his money belt and said offhandedly, "Oh, I quit because I got stabbed and I thought I'd better find another job where I was less likely to get hurt."
My private thought was that he was going to someday be falling to the ground and clutching his perfect, bloodied nose that had been tagged by a customer's flying elbow if he tried any more little tricks like he'd done with me. But I said, "Wow, you got it with a shiv, huh? Where were you stabbed?"
"Right here in the hand," he answered, showing Aisling and I a small scar between his thumb and index finger that might have been caused by the sharpened handle of an illegally obtained spoon or might have been caused by hitting his cousin over the head with a tea cup when he was four, who knows?
"That must have been painful," I said, starting the van's engine and preparing to pull away.
"It wasn't so much," he said with a modest shrug. "You both have a good day, now."
We went on home and Aisling rhapsodized about how cute he was, how high I'd jumped, how goofy I'd looked, how brave he'd been to work in a prison, blah blah blah. I, on the other hand, continued to feel kind of creeped out by the whole thing. I mean, if my husband or Kieren or Pat had done something like that to me, I'd just scream and smack them and then we'd all laugh. But some dude whom I do not know, right there at the gas station, all up in my business with his scary voice and all?
I don't know. Was that kind of strange, or is it just me?
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