Alex sat in the hot car waiting patiently for me to fill up. The lever clicked and the pump asked if I wanted a receipt or not. I pushed yes and got nothing.
I walked angrily into the Exxon station, muttering to myself. This was the 4th time I had paid with a credit card at the pump at this place and had to go inside to get a receipt. Wasn’t the whole pay-at-the-pump movement created to make this process more convenient? Hell, these places have the word convenient in their descriptor.
The first time it happened, I figured they’d just run out of paper, and I suggested as much. The second time I thought maybe their machine was broken, so I nicely brought that up. But this was too much: One of those daily injustices that needed to be fought.
I noticed a ‘Lottery Winner Here’ sign as I opened the door and I found myself questioning the validity of the claim. I looked around the store and it seemed darker and dirtier than I remembered. I approached the counter, unenticed by the pork rinds and Slim-Jims and other grab-and-go stuff this receipt scam was probably trying to draw people inside to buy: “Just get ‘em in the door” right?
I recognized the guy behind the counter as the same guy that shrugged off my earlier suggestions to replace the paper or fix the machine. He was on the phone, speaking in what I now thought was a menacing middle-eastern accent. He didn’t hang up the phone but just looked at me like “yes?”
“Receipt, pump 4” I said. He started to print one out like this was nothing new. I spoke loudly to make my point and divert attention from his phone conversation: “I don’t know if you’re trying to save a few pennies on receipt paper, but you’re going to lose at least one customer if I have to walk in here again to get one!” I said. The man whispered something to the person on the phone with him and hung up. I continued with my diatribe: “I’ll go across the street if I have to,” I said, “I’ll bet they have plenty of receipt paper there.” The guy behind the counter handed me my receipt and nodded like he understood.
I went out to the car and climbed into the driver’s seat, proud of making my point and maybe making things right for future customers. “What took you so long?” asked Alex. “Just fixing things, one injustice at a time,” I joked. “Receipt paper didn’t come out again?” She inquired. “Fourth time,” I said. “So what’s that?” Alex said as she pointed to a little white piece of paper hanging from the front of the pump. I looked and saw it there, blowing in the wind like the figurative Justice League cape that had just been ignominiously stripped off my back.
I pulled up to the front of the store and got out again. “Pork rinds or Slim-Jims?” I asked my wife. “Huh?” “Never mind,” I called back with a smile.
I returned with a bag full of grab-and-go, and a half-dozen lottery tickets. “This might be your lucky day, they’ve already had a multi million-dollar winner here” I said to Alex as I got back in the car and quietly retired my imaginary cape for the day.