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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.

Disasters at the Pump


I was twenty the first time I pumped a tank of gas. This is not unusual for a kid who grew up in Oregon, because in that blessed state you don't pump your own gas. Pretty sure you aren't allowed to. You simply stay in your car and say "Fill it with regular" out the window to the attendant and that's all there is to it. I've met a lot of haters in my life that go on and on about how horrible and lame it would be to stay in your car on a cold day and let someone else deal with the pumping, and I never understand what's not to love about the Oregon way.

The only disadvantage, I suppose, was the day my 20-year-old self ended up alone and on the other side of the Oregon/Idaho border. Not that it's hard to pump gas. But just because you know what to do or even how to do it, that doesn't mean you'll do it well. Or even correctly. (I related this to my first kiss in Schooled.) That day at the pump I managed to do everything correctly, or so I thought, but still no gas came out. Surely after watching me try over and over for quite some time, a voice came over the intercom for all to hear. "YOU HAVE TO PUSH THE START BUTTON!" Which they could have, I don't know, mentioned somewhere.

Last night I had to fill up my tank after leaving the office, and I know I shouldn't sit in the car while I'm waiting for the tank to fill, but it's winter. And I live in Cleveland. About the time I realized it was taking longer than normal to fill was the time I made the connection that the gushing sound I heard was my tank overflowing. How does this even happen? The clicky thing is supposed to click off when the tank is full. I jumped out of the car, rushed over, and figured removing the nozzle would force it to unclick. Au contraire. It was like a fire hose, gas shooting everywhere (over my car, over me), and the only thing I could think to do was scream. Surely something somewhere in the vicinity would spark and my car and person would blow up immediately. "SOMEONE, HELP!!" I shouted, and even though the man who rushed over to help thought I didn't know that the clicky thing stays clicked until released (and consequently thought it was my own cluelessness that had caused the problem), at least he rushed over to help. The clicky thing did eventually unclick, but not before I'd paid a small fortune for the gas now flowing toward the gutter.

And this, ladies and gentleman, is why I write books. Because these things happen to me. It's also why I miss Oregon. One of the many, many reasons. Stay tuned next time for rants on sales tax and snow.