I worked once at a petrol station
in the City of Cardiff. Up the road, the other petrol station was
undergoing necessary renovation because their underground storage tanks
had failed inspection and presented a threat to the surrounding
neighborhood. The owner of the other petrol station had been
unwilling to find the resources to meet government standards. He had
sold his business to a corporate entity, and he had agreed to hang on as a
disgruntled but salaried employee.
charged with digging out and replacing underground storage tanks spent a
great deal of their time parked in our forecourt 'waiting for
parts'. Our manager was mostly reclusive, but he did not approve of
idling vehicles in his forecourt, so it was my task to discourage this
freelance and often inebriated crew.
not from the City of Cardiff, nor were they from Wales proper. They
were Englishmen from Bristol, about an hours drive to the East. They
had a very low opinion of petrol station attendants, and they gave the
impression that Wales was a foreign land inhabited by nincompoops and the
retarded. They referred to me as "Taffy", a title that did
not offend me.
With just the one petrol station
operating on this main highway into and out of the city, we were busy.
Sometimes there would be a line of vehicles out onto the road, which would
attract the constabulary. Good times for a cash business when people
are in a hurry to get home or to get to work. At the end of the day
meters would be read and cash counted. Shortfalls were the
responsibility of the attendant. Some days I was happy, but some days
I was bitter and in debt.
Our manager always had filled his
own vehicle at the other petrol Station, but with that out of commission he
would pull up and I would fill his petrol tank. Once he gave me too
much money. Perhaps he was color blind and he had confused the new ten
pound notes, which looked so like the old five pound notes. Or perhaps
he was struggling with the size of his wallet compared to the wages he paid
Currently my own position with respect to
combustion engines is that of 'waiting for parts'. And it contains a
restlessness that requires a distraction, because otherwise the mind drifts
into those possibilities that result in chewing gum or fencing wire holding
machine parts together.