Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tank 287 - 15 August 2K11 (Convenience Trumped Price, But I Got Free Air Anyway)

Yesterday I refueled at the home of the world's slowest gas pumps near my home. Again. For the third time. Back-to-back-to-back. Consecutively. In a row.

This time, I had driven that Corolla 450.8 miles, and put in 11.706 gallons of 10% Ethanol-enhanced unleaded gasoline product, making for a fuel economy of 38.51 miles per gallon for this tank. That was nice, because I made extra special care to drive dainty-like and not mash down on the gas pedal. Indeed, I only hammered it down just the one time on this tank.

The gas at this station was nine cents more per gallon than at the Wawa I was planning on refueling at. The plan was to go to the Wawa and get refueled and check the air in my tires at the "free air" station that all Wawas have. But as I rolled into the Wawa, it was a busy parking lot filled with cars at every pump with several cars waiting around to pounce on an open pump.

So I drove up to the free air station and figured (hoped is a better word) things would calm down in the few minutes it would take to check the tire air.

I got out of the car and took off all four valve caps, because in my experience, the air pump doesn't stay on long enough for you to remove the valve caps and also put air in all four tires. Then I got the hose ready, pressed the start button and hurried into action. It was like a NASCAR pit stop the way I was whipping the air hose all around the four corners of the car to add air to all four tires.

The funny part happened as I was adding the air. Just as I started filling up the first tire, a guy drove up and parked his car directly behind the Corolla, and he got out and started talking on his cell phone. He stood there near the air pump at the back of my car and talked on his cell phone as the compressor was noisily running. The way he parked, I wouldn't be able to back out of the parking spot, and there was a curb in front of the Corolla and a grassy median I couldn't drive on, too. So I was concerned about that, but since my mission was to fill up all four tires on one cycle of the air compressor, I didn't have time to investigate the whole situation.

I got the air pressure in the last tire just the way I wanted it, and right then the compressor shut off. Success!

Then I went and coiled the air hose back up on the side of the air station, and as I went to twist on the valve caps, this guy puts his phone back in his pocket and moves swiftly past me to get to that air hose. I'm trying to finish up my valve caps here, and this guy's like taking the air hose to start filling up his tires already! And the odd part is that the hose isn't nearly long enough to get to his front tires the way he had boxed me in with his parking job!

So I stand up slowly and look at him with the "evil eye." He stops short, because he's shorter than me and I was looking down upon him since he was unnaturally close to me, and asks "you finish with pump?"

I reply, "Yeah, and I'd like to drive out of here but I can't because YOU ARE BLOCKING ME IN!"

It is only at this moment that he looks at the situation and realizes how foolish he was in parking where he did. So he puts the hose down and goes into his car to back it up and free me and the Corolla from our trapped position. I finish up and put the three remaining valve caps on the tires and make my way to back out of the spot and get out of there. The guy gave me about six inches of free space as I was backing up. Luckily, I'm a very excellent driver. More likely, it's just that the Corolla is small.

Meanwhile, the status at the gas pumps has gotten worse. Still no free pumps and even more cars waiting for other people to finish up. So I admit defeat and attempt to leave the parking lot, only to get almost trapped in by a smart guy who thought he'd be sneaky and drive on the wrong side of the road and over an arrow pointing the opposite direction to get around behind the pumps. Only problem is that I was right there in his way. So he stops and "waves me through," so I am compelled to compound his idiocracy and drive on the wrong side of the parking lot as well, putting the Corolla in grave danger of a slow speed collision from one of any number of other cars that were actually following the markings on the parking lot.

Happily, I escaped and with little additional fanfare I traveled about half a mile to the aforementioned Fas Mart nearer to my home, where the gas runs slow and the prices run nine cents more per gallon. But it was worth it because I didn't have to sit in that Wawa parking lot waiting for a pump to free up for me to pounce upon.

Plus, I got free air from the Wawa and didn't even get any gas to pay for it!

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