An English In Kentucky



















December 13th 2009

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    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.

    Those 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.

   They were 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 me.

    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.

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tim candler

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