I paid my two dollars and pumped my gas. I filled out the report and then went back inside the location. The cashier, who ended up being the owner of the location, greeted me in broken English, with, “Hi. I help you again?” I explained that I was the mystery shopper and I was there to complete an audit. “What an audit?” he said. I told him I just needed to fill out a simple form while looking at a few pieces of equipment. “I pass?’ he said. I told him I wasn’t sure because I had not done the audit yet. “I get you a Coke?” he said. I told him no thank you. He smiled a big smile and said, “You let me know if you need drink. I get for you.” I thanked him and tried to start my audit.
As I walked around the store, I kept feeling eyes on me. I looked up, and the owner was directly in front of me. “You want cup coffee?” He said, “I brew fresh pot.” I told him no thank you. “Okay. You just let me know,” he said as he turned to walk back to the register area. I took three steps, and he was to my right. “You hungry? You look hungry.” I wasn’t hungry, but I did really want to get the report finished so I could get on to my next assignment.
I went to look at the restroom, and as I came out, I bumped him with the door. “You want water?” Again, I thanked him but said I did not. “Okay. You let me know. I pass report?” I told him that I didn’t know because I had not been able to fill out the report, hoping he would take the hint. He didn’t.
I walked over to the soda fountain to check the carbonation. “Oh, you thirsty now! I get you cup.” “I’m really not thirsty,” I said. I told him I was just checking the machine. “It pass?” he said. I told him I hadn’t checked it yet. He turned to walk away.
After I finished checking the soda machine, I turned and walked down an aisle. As I reached the end, the owner popped his head out from behind a display of Twinkies. “You thirsty?” he said. I told him I really, really was not thirsty.
A minute later, he said, “You hungry?” Nope. Not hungry. After about 5 more minutes and a few more inquires about my needs, I had completed the report, and I was ready to go. My next challenge was figuring out how to get out of the store without telling this very pushy man anything about the audit. I was not allowed to discuss it with him, and if I did, I was risking future jobs. So, I held my breath and headed for the door. My goal was to yell over my shoulder, “Thank you!” as I left. It didn’t quite go as planned.
Right as I reached the door, the owner stepped in front of me. He was between me and the door. “You leaving?” he said. I considered telling him I just needed to get something from my car and then making a break for it. In retrospect, I should have done that. Too bad I was so stinking honest.
“Yes, sir, I am.” I said. “I pass?” he asked. “I really can’t discuss it with you,” I said. “Why not? That mean I not pass,” he said. I told him that it didn’t mean that at all but I was not allowed to discuss it with him. “So that mean I did pass?” he persisted. Again, I told him that I couldn’t discuss it with him. “So I not pass?” We could do this all day. I finally told him that I thought he had done very well but that I did not determine whether he passed or not. “So you think I pass?” he said. Man, this guy was not giving up. Then, I did something that, to this day, I feel bad about. I told him he had passed. This was an absolute lie, because I knew good and well he had not passed. His store was disgusting. The restroom was filthy. The soda machine was caked with goo. The gas pumps ran slowly, and the owner had not even thanked me when I paid for the gas.
I had tried my best not to tell the man either way, but he just wouldn’t leave me alone, so I lied! I was pretty sure if I told him the truth, I was not getting out alive. It was survival of the fittest. I felt bad though, because I knew he would be disappointed when he got the report. I also knew that I could never, ever visit that location again, and I didn’t. In fact, that was pretty much the end of gas station audits for me. -Al