I have a tendency to be like my father in some ways. Those are words I never thought I’d say, but there you go. I said them. Not that being like either of my parents is a bad thing, but come on. How many of you want to admit you're like your mother or father? Well, me neither.
Of course, I get my amazing wit, my southern charm and my ability to write bad poetry from Daddy, but there’s another trait I inherited.
I do not do well when I get frustrated.
Now, for the most part, Daddy isn’t scary when he gets frustrated. In fact, he’s kind of funny. You just have to make sure he doesn’t see you laughing. He gets flustered easily, and well, patience might not be his strong suit.
Way back in the day, Mr. Everything used to work with my daddy. They worked in an office with a warehouse where they sold industrial safety supplies. It was quite fascinating, as you can well imagine. Mr. E likes to tell a story of a day when my daddy just couldn’t quite keep it together. I’m not sure if this was the first time Mr. Everything had witnessed my father in action or not, but he thought it was hilarious. He found it funny then, and he still finds it funny today.
The legend goes that Daddy was looking for a piece of paper. He had left it on his desk. In his words, “I know I left it right there!” The minutes ticked by as Daddy looked and looked for the paper he needed. He started out calm but quickly grew agitated. He went from gently searching, to roughly crumbling pages, to dumping the trash can out on the floor in a semi-violent rage. He stormed out to the warehouse and looked there. He came back in and looked again. Apparently, my daddy grew more and more hysterical as he could not find the paper he needed. He finally said a few choice words, plopped down at his desk and said, “Forget it. The <insert your own word here> thing is gone forever.”
At that precise moment, Mr. Everything walked to my father’s desk, looked in one unwrinkled spot, picked up a piece of paper and said, “Is this it?” And, of course, it was, because he was Mr. Everything. There’s a reason he has that name, remember?
Daddy did not find that very funny back then. Actually, come to think of it, I’m not sure he finds that story funny now. I guess we’re going to find out, aren’t we? Since I just put it out there for the world (or at least the 3.27 people who read my blog) to see. (Tee-hee…Sorry, Daddy! Just focus on the honor of me admitting I’m like you, okay? Okay.)
I did not just bring up this story to humiliate my father but to prove my point that I am a lot like him in the way I get frustrated. This thought came about today after a certain occurrence that I can't believe I'm about to admit in public. Oh well, humility went out the door long ago, so here goes.
I must admit, I’ve been pretty pampered when it comes to pumping gas in my own car. There were a few years there when I had to do it myself because Mr. E was always at work, but for the most part, in our 23 years of marriage, I have rarely pumped my own gas. I simply don’t do gas, because I know Mr. E will take care of it for me. And he does usually. When he doesn’t, I am not thrilled with getting to do it myself, and typically I’m grouchy about having to touch a germy gas pump. Today was no exception.
Because we could get extra points on a rewards card for filling up today, Mr. Everything asked me to fill up our truck with gas. Simple enough, right? I had to ask him how to do it, because I did not know how to use the points card. He told me I would first swipe the points card. The machine would ask me a question, and I would say, “No.” It would then ask for my payment; I would swipe the credit card. I told him I had it covered. I am woman, hear me roar.
I went to the gas station. I was already thrown off, because I got my behemoth vehicle in there crooked, and it was a big reach from the gas pump to the hole thingy in my car. I also had underestimated how far I needed to pull up, since I drive a truck, and the hole thingy is toward the back of the bed of the truck. I was already feeling a little stupid as I began the whole process since it was a stretch to get the gas nozzle to reach Big Yellow.
Take one: I swiped the card. I said, “No,” to the question. It asked for my payment, and I swiped my credit card. Then, it asked for my pin number. Uh-oh. He dinn't say nuttin’ about no pin number. I entered the most logical guess I had of a pin number. The machine thanked me for my business and spit out a receipt.
Take two: Swiped card. Check. “No” to question. Check. Payment swiped. Check. Did I want a receipt? No. Nothing. Suddenly, the machine was no longer speaking to me.
Take three: Repeat take two, except with buttons pushed with more zeal. Silence.
Take four: Takes two and three, with finger tips turning white from the force of pushing the buttons. Silence.
Then, I remembered that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and to expect different results.
Avoiding my insanity, I went inside, hoping to get assistance from the friendly clerk. First off, she wasn’t friendly. Second, she didn’t know how to help me. I showed her the receipt from the first attempt, and she said, “But you didn’t get any gas.” Um, yes. Thank you.
The clerk asked how much gas I wanted, and I said I hadn’t the foggiest idea; I haven’t filled my truck in years, so I have no clue at this point what would be a realistic amount to ask for. She rolled her eyes and said I would have to do it at the pump then. I asked if she could tell me how to make it work. She said I would first swipe the points card. It would ask me a question, and I would answer, “No.” Then, it would ask for my payment, and I would swipe my credit card.
Wow. That sounded vaguely familiar.
So, I went back out and pulled the truck forward to another pump. I figured I would straighten out my vehicle so I didn’t look like a fool, and maybe I would clear the bad mojo that lingered at that machine.
Take five: Swipe points card. Check. “No” to question. Check. Calmly swipe payment. Check. Receipt? No, thank you very much. And……..silence.
At this point, I called Mr. Everything. I did not care that he was under a mobile home replumbing the entire thing. I needed him to fix this gas emergency right this minute! Luckily, he answered. I’m not sure what I would have done if he hadn’t, but I’m pretty sure it would have ended in me apologizing to him or someone else.
The conversation went like this:
Mr. E: Hello?
Me: Hi. (Less than nice tone.)
Mr. E: What’s up? (Calmly, sensing anger in my voice….)
Me: I’m trying to pump the stupid gas in the stupid truck so you can get your stupid points. (Through gritted teeth)
Mr. E: Okay…… And?
Me: AND IT’S NOT WORKING! (Trying not to yell.)
Mr. E: You have to swipe the points card first.
Me: Yes. I know that! I’m doing it the right way! Swipe the points card, select NO, swipe the payment card….
Mr. E: But it’s not working?
Me: NO!! It keeps asking me for a stupid pin number for the stupid payment card.
Mr. E: A pin number? Do you mean a zip code? The zip code is …..
Me: NO! Not a stupid zip code! I know my own stupid zip code, but that’s not what it’s asking for anyway. PIN. P-I-N. Not zip. Z-I-P. (Big sigh.)
Mr. E: It’s never asked me for a pin number before. You’re sure you’re doing it right?
Me: Seriously? You’re asking me that right now? I’ve done it 6 times. I’ve been in to see the stupid clerk. She couldn’t help me with the stupid points. I can’t fill the stupid truck with stupid gas.
Mr. E: Okay. Tell me again what you’re doing. (Still as calm as a cucumber.)
Me: FIRST. SWIPE THE POINTS CARD! NEXT. SAY NO! NEXT. SWIPE THE CREDIT CARD. (Not a cucumber.)
Mr. E: What credit card are you using?
Me: WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME THAT?? You told me to use the stupid gas card! I’m using the stupid Shell card and the stupid points card. I DON’T KNOW WHY YOU ARE ASKING ME THESE STUPID QUESTIONS!
Mr. E: Um. You’re at Mobil.
Bless the man’s heart. He's been married to me for 23 years. But, in my defense, he knew it way before I was his bride.-Al