Thursday, March 09, 2006

Re-Learning an Old Lesson

"How poor are they who have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees." ~ William Shakespeare

I went to get gas at a Flying J Truck stop last night. I was going to pay cash so I just pushed the pay inside button and removed the handle and tried to pump my gas. Nothing happened. I looked for a sign that said pay before pumping, but there wasn't one. I pushed the intercom button to tell the attendant something was wrong, but I was ignored.

I put the pump handle back in it's cradle and repeated the process. Still nothing. I got back into my car and drove it around to another pump and repeated the process at the other pump. Still nothing.

So finally I went into the store and told them, while customers were standing in line, that the pump wasn't working. The lady said it's pre-pay. I've never had to pre-pay for gas before at this truck stop. It must be something new. I said I didn't see any signs telling me that. (There are no such signs, I discovered)

She just shrugged her shoulders as if telling me she doesn't know why.

This, I've found, is the standard answer to customer complaints at this particular truck stop. I stop there often because they have the cheapest gas along my regular route between Hagerstown, MD and Lititz, Pennsylvania. But when someone has a complaint, they always just shrug their shoulders and feign ignorance.

Now, this particular station is always very crowded and they never have enough people working there, so there is always a long, long line of people lined up to pay for their purchases. Always at least a 10 minute wait to be waited on, if that soon.

Another annoying thing they do there: Even if you pay at the pump by credit card, if you want a receipt, (which I do) you still have to go in and stand in a very long line for several minutes to get your receipt. The pump doesn't give you one. You actually have to go inside and stand in line anyway. So, there goes that benefit of paying at the pump.

So, I'm thinking...I have to stand in a line for 30 minutes to pay for gas and I don't even know how much I'm going to spend yet as I am filling the tank. So if I give the lady a twenty and then go out and pump my gas, then I will have to go back in and stand in line again just to get my change and/or receipt.

It isn't worth it. The gas station across the street is charging the same amount of money for their gas and there are no lines. It's just inconvenient if you are southbound because there is one of those pesky medians in the way. You can't just cross the street there. You have to go down the street a ways and then make a U-turn.

(Oh God, don't get me started on medians. They are a complete waste of taxpayers money. All they do is inconvenience the driver. Does anyone know what their purpose is supposed to be?)

I went across the street, but not before telling the lady behind the counter what I thought of the way they do business. I didn't yell at her, but my tone wasn't polite.

Now, I am feeling guilty that I was so thoughtlessly rude to the lady behind the counter. Obviously, the stupidity and apathy of the truck stop management is not her fault. She probably gets rude people yelling at her all the time for something over which she has absolutely no control.

I feel ashamed because I make it a point to try to treat people the way I would want to be treated, and this time, I failed miserably. I suppose the people who work there are pretty much accustomed to rude and thoughtless customers, but I don't need to be one of them.

Usually, I handle situations like this with patience and politeness. Normally, I would say something like this:

"Oh, The pumps are pre-paid? I didn't know that. Are there any signs? Cause I didn't see them. Perhaps you could do your customers a favor and let the management know that it might be a good idea to put signs up letting them know your policy has changed. It would probably save the loss of some business in the future."

And I would smile while saying it, without sarcasm.

This is a perfect example of the constant struggle Christians have to work through in their daily walk with Christ. We are not perfect, just forgiven for being imperfect, and yet, Jesus tells us, in Matthew 5:48, "Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect". He is not saying we should be perfect, he is saying we must continually strive for perfection. He knows we can't be perfect, no matter how hard we try.

I tend to re-learn this lesson often. Some day maybe it will sink in permanently.


Goat said...

Mark I know of just one station I don't have to pay first, it is my local corner store that sees me everyday for my morning caffiene. It is privately owned and operated in a small town, the cashier is the owner. Use a debit card and write the amount down and be gone without a line to wait in.

Mark said...

Gotta have a receipt for my job, goat. It's tax deductible!

FrenziedFeline said...

Go make the station across the street happy and make the U-turn. Even if you complained to the management at the Flying J, it probably wouldn't change anything if they're that busy. Unfortunately, they won't miss you.

ELAshley said...

Yes... one of my favorite axioms of life.

"Perfection: While impossible to achieve, its pursuit is not without merit."

Lone Ranger said...

I suggest you register your complaint with the Flying J
corporate office.

whit said...

I file this kind of story under "Burger King Dinner Theatre." Actually there's not much drama in your story but it reminds me of a local Burger King where the employees were surly and I saw a lot of drama.