Seconds later a man rolled up to the pump across from me in a big truck. He was a landscaper by the looks of the logo stenciled to the side. Without waiting, he hopped out of his truck, put a credit card into the pump and began doing what I have not seen in ten years: pumping his own gas.
“What’s going on?” I thought.
I can’t tell you how quickly my mind raced: Was he not from these parts? No, his plates were from New Jersey. Did he know the owner? Had something terrible happened and there was a suspension of state laws?
He wiped some sweat off his face, pulled up his blue jeans and strolled into the quickmart.
Meanwhile the college girl in front of his car, impatient and probably motivated by what she’d just witnessed, got out of her car and attempted to finish her transaction without the attendant.
We are always on the brink of chaos, aren’t we?
The man in the truck came back, now with a large can of iced-tea. He popped the top and tossed it down, drinking it as if it were a cold beer. The vision gave me a flashback. Was I back in Texas?
No. I was still in New Jersey. It was humid after all. And the man was not wearing ropers.
My cowboy finished filling up before the attendant handed me back my credit card. He was long gone when I said, somewhere between a question and a tattletale: "That guy in the truck filled up his own tank, you know?”
The attendant looked at me with a smile. It seemed he didn’t speak much English. He'd had one less customer to tend to on that miserable day, I am not sure he was so saddened by my report.
If you look up the law, though, it was this attendant and not my cowboy, who’d have gotten stuck with a fine for daring to fill up his own pickup. According to the Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act:
34:3A-6. Dispensing of fuel; regulations
It shall be unlawful for any attendant to: a. Dispense fuel into the tank of a motor vehicle while the vehicle's engine is in operation; b. Dispense fuel into any portable container not in compliance with regulations adopted pursuant to section 8 of this act; c. Dispense fuel while smoking; or d. Permit any person who is not an attendant to dispense fuel into the tank of a motor vehicle or any container.
As for the fine: A violator of any provision of this act shall be liable for a penalty of not less than $50.00 and not more than $250.00 for a first offense and not more than $500.00 for each subsequent offense.
I don’t know if the attendant or the retailer would have had to pay the fine. But I have little doubt that someday you'll see my cowboy at a pump again.
This week on the Educated Mom, we look at the Cognitive Style of dogs.