Category Archives: sociology

Full Service!

 

Crossing traffic was difficult to impossible just beyond the I-90 Interchange on 97. Yet, though Country Fair’s prices were consistently 5c below the average at this juncture, the Kwik Fill directly across was prepared to compete – and, the sign said Full Service. Since my windshield wash hadn’t been spewing any fluid since the inspection, and I was heading north, this was a no brainer; Kwik Fill would get my business.

I pulled up next to the open pump. The service representative, bundled in jacket over hooded sweatshirt, was pumping gas for a vehicle on the opposite side, but tapped on my passenger side window. When I rolled it down, he asked me what gas grade I wanted. I told him I would also like him to check my windshield washer receptacle, as it may be blocked or leaking. He walked away, to complete the sale on the other side, and then returned, asking again if I wanted to fill the tank. I said yes, and popped the hood, feeling the pump nozzle enter my car’s gas receptacle.

By now, he had come around to the front of the car. Again, I declared that I wished to have the wash receptacle checked for leaks. He called out: “I can’t tell if there is fluid in the bottle. All I can see is the top of the bottle – it’s an entire bottle!” He seemed impatient.

I asked if the spouts might be blocked. He said that this was possible. And, he disappeared again – to serve another customer.

I looked back at the pump. The hose was draped across to my car, the nozzle inserted into my gas tank – but, the pump read 00.00

He came around again, to my passenger window, and asked if I’d like him to pour some fluid into the receptacle bottle, to test its contents. Good idea, I thought; I agreed.

While I watched him walk back to get what I thought would be a small amount of windshield wash, I saw him step across the draped pump hose. Calling out, I said: “Why does the pump read 00.00?!”  He looked at it. “Oh!” he said. And, stepping to the pump, he engaged the gasoline stream.

Then, he walked up to the open hood and poured fluid into the receptacle bottle. Three seconds later, a man in a truck being serviced called out: “It’s full!”

When I asked why the wash wasn’t reaching the windshield nozzles, he said it might be the motor. “Motor?!” I said, incredulous. Then, he said, “You’ll have to ask a service station. I’m not a mechanic!”

Walking past the passenger side of my car, he shoved a large, nearly full bottle of blue washer fluid through the window, and said briskly: ” Three seventeen, 2019 prices”. Then, he pulled it back out of the window, and disappeared.

I was momentarily confused. Was he telling me the grade of the fluid, like one would confirm lubricating oil? I stared straight ahead, blinking my eyes rapidly.

When the tank was filled, I handed him my debit card, declaring “Credit, please”. Again, he said: “3.17, for the wash”.

The bottle. The entire bottle. He was charging me for the whole bottle of washer fluid!

I said: “You’re charging me for the whole bottle?!” He said: “I have to! You said you wanted me to test the receptacle!”  I said: “You never told me you would charge me for an entire bottle to do that. I would not have done this to you.”

Again, I stared. Through my soiled windshield.

He came back with my debit card, and the receipt for the gas, and as he set the bottle on the seat I handed him my credit card. He said: “You’ll have to come in [to the store] for this; I can’t sell you a product out here, because you have to sign for it.”

Getting out of the car, I moved deliberately. The sun was bright. The air was crisp, slightly warmer than it had been for much of the winter. Following him toward the store cubicle, I took my good old time. Walking with a slight strut, head high, I felt emboldened by every woman who had ever walked the earth.

Entering the cubicle, I submitted my card for payment. Another customer stepped in, behind him. When the transaction was complete, I stopped.

“Sir, this is a Full Service station. I expected that you would take a small amount of the fluid used to squeegee windshields to test my receptacle.  Why didn’t you squeegee my windshield?”

His eyes were a piercing blue, deeply set. Round face, bulbous features. His speech was rapid, aggressive.

“Ma’am, do you see how many cars going in and out of here? I’m alone here. I’m doing the best I can!”

“I’m sure you are. But, this being a Full Service station, you should have cleaned my windshield. Instead, you billed me for an entire bottle of windshield washer fluid. ” And, backing out toward the exit: “Sir, I worked in the service industry for five years, and I would never have done to you what you did to me, today.”

I was out the door. Heading back to my car, I looked at the woman stopped behind mine, and shook my head in warning toward her. Just a small service provided to my ilk, a woman in a world of men out to make a buck.

There is an 800 number on the Kwik Fill receipt. Just above it, the following question appears:

“How Are We Doing?”

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© 3/1/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Familiarist.

 

She stood, at the doorway, in full deja vu.

Surveying the dog sheet curled over the pillows, the rumpled blue and brown fleece. The little bowls, on the dresser. The three, inverted, grey and white socks, on the floor just near the child’s rattan chair draped with those pewter hued gym pants which always fit her just when she needed them.

The hallway, dog bone chards embedding in the terry tufted rugs from Ollie’s. Stand alone heater, always almost enough to cut that blood clotting, bone deadening chill. The Young Chang, hopelessly out of tune, against the central wall.

She’d had that old workhorse for nearly thirty years. Almost feeling again the giddy suspension of all reason which had moved her to hire the guy to haul it all the way out to this living room, even her own piano had become part of the deep, inextricable familiarity of these surroundings.

Familiar meant comfortable. Comfortable meant secure. Secure meant the hope of enduring life. How does one turn away?

Little Fitz Willie the cat, silent. Imploring. Bella wriggling. Brody gazing. The birds.

She loved. Like the earth, under foot.

His grandfatherly, cumin scent. Stumbling to the kitchen, hair Kewpie coiffed, for the ground morning cup. Crouched, ready for the bathroom well before she would ever be. Grousing, endlessly, in glorious malcontentment, through an entire day and into the end of it.

This couldn’t be the end, of anything. She knew it all, too well.

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© 2/20/19    Ruth Ann Scanzillo.    Please respect the author’s story. Thank you.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

Collateral.

COLLATERAL:

noun: something pledged as security for repayment of a loan, to be forfeited in the event of a default.

adjective:  additional, but subordinate; secondary.

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The military mind has long been revered by its own. Structured according to the authoritarian hierarchy, each level of power is clearly delineated. Regardless of rank, all members know precisely the parameters of behavioral expectation. There is order, adherence to which is strict.

Not only is order the rule of the day, when military action is taken each arm of power follows a command.

Compartmentalization rules. All actions are calculated. Strategy and tactic are governed as such. Nobody speaks, or moves, without full awareness of the scope of responsibility and potential outcome. All this seems, on its face, to be a predictable way of life which allows each person the security of knowing his or her choices at any given time.

But, there is an unacknowledged factor.

Because of the strict structure, whenever a command to deploy troops or strike a target is handed down, all those subordinate to the commander must carry out the order according to instructions. If a casual observer, or random figure, or even a trooper enters the frame of established action the value of that person’s life is of no consequence. Such an individual has already been factored in as collateral, calculated as a potential casualty.

In short, if you are not part of the team and happen to be downwind or within sightline of a military action, God be with you. You’re dead.

Lately, the military industrial complex and the business model have welded themselves together. The implications of this cannot be overstated.

As corporations become conglomerates, and these form monopolies, the value of individual contributions is fast becoming a collateral calculation. No longer is a single, creative contributor protected by anyone, unless tapped by a player in the hierarchy. And, if the commander deigns to take an action, one better have a contingency plan in place.

Don’t let yourself be branded as collateral.

Preserve your worth.

Your are no one’s insurance policy. You are not a pledge, to be forfeited by default. Escape now; take solace within your own, authentic, creative mind, before you find yourself bleeding by the side of the road.

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© 2/19/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.     All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line.  Thank you for respecting original material.

littlebarefeetblog.com