April 20, 2005
"My Stupidest Moment" Memefigured that since I was going to post this anyway, I should create it as a meme to get a peek into the humiliating private lives of some of my favorite bloggers.
My stupidest moment:
Happiness is a Warm Gun
It was the summer of 1980. Carter was President, the country was suffering the indignity of Iran holding Americans, and our wimp of a President told us how miserable we were while nearly bankrupting us with 20+% interest rates.
OPEC had begun flexing its muscle by reducing supply and forcing gas prices up. For the first time, Americans were pissed about the price of gas at the pumps. And many felt that gas stations were taking advantage of the crisis.
It was a sweltering summer in Sacramento. The rice fields were still routinely burned during summer months, creating a smoggy inversion layer that blanketed the valley and made cranks of us all. Tempers were hot as freshly driven rivets.
I was young, in college fulltime, and working 50 hours a week in a 7-11 convenience store that had three gas pumps. My dream job. No days off and 5 hours a night of sleep. Speed-hyped shoplifters, biker-jacketed beer runners, and the occasional armed robber. Still, it was a nice upper-middle-class neighborhood, so there were more good than bad customers.
My boss Bill was ex-military. Flew Air Force fighters in Vietnam. Good guy. We got on well. Told dirty jokes all the time. He liked to keep a Ruger Police Special revolver that shot .357s and .38s. We used to go up to his Sierra mountain property near Nyack and shoot cans. I'd shot all kinds of guns in my time. Even a custom bear-killer rifle in Alaska that shot hand-made .48s. I was a comfotable amateur shooter. Code for S-T-U-P-I-D.
The revolver stayed in the backroom where he counted the money in the morning. But sometimes when the graveyard shift guy called in sick, Bill would come in to keep the store open and bring the gun up under the register. Just in case.
I'd come in at 6:00 am to take over for Bill. He always left the gun under the register, and I wouldn't notice until he was gone. I'd leave it there fantasizing how I'd stop the robber or blow out the tires of a gas runner.
You see, people were so pissed about gas prices (a dollar a gallon was over the top for most people) that they'd come in, fill up, and drive off without paying. We'd always let people filup first, pay after. Now, for the first time, people would steal gas. You extend a little trust, and they take you down for it. Iran, prices, Carter, misery index, gas ripoff artists--the combined anger was more than any of us realized.
Something told me that it was a bad idea to keep that gun up front under the register. Something told me that I didn't need it, that my imagination was creating something that had to come out somehow. Something told me...but stupid dumbass kid that I was, I ignored it.
It was a nice, quiet Sunday morning around 10:00 am. Business didn't really pick up until 11:00 am. There was only one customer drifting through the aisles. My boss bill came in to see how things were going. He had pulled an all-nighter two days before and neither of us had bothered to take the gun into the back room.
I asked him to run the counter while I went into the back to catch up on work or go to the bathroom or some such. About 10 minutes later I came out and took over.
I looked outside and saw a long-haired guy in a green Mustang just stop at the Regular pump. I looked at the console. It was clear. I set him up for a fillup. He pumped his gas. And as I stood watching him, the bastard finished and proceeded to get into his car and drive for the exit.
I couldn't believe it! He was pulling out as I watched. Something in me snapped. I grabbed the gun. I raced around the counter. I rushed through the swinging front doors. I hoofed it towards the Mustang.
The guy had stopped, waiting for traffic to clear. He didn't see me coming.
All I thought was, I'm gonna blow out his tires and stop this sonofabitch!
As I got close to the rear passenger side of the Mustang, traffic cleared. The guy started revving his engine. He popping the clutch, and started spinning his tires. I aimed at the right rear tire and fired three shots as he drove away.
Blam! Blam! Blam!
My body turned as I fired each shot at the tire...And I watched as the Mustang screeched out of sight.
Shit! I missed!
Angry and disappointed, I turned toward the store and saw a pair of gawkers, my boss and a customer, looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows, their faces saying What the hell is going on?
I walked back dejected, the gun hanging down, pointing at the asphalt, walked through the glass doors, turned to my boss and said, "Bill, that guy just stole some gas."
And my boss looked at me calmly and said:
"He already paid!"
My knees went weak and all I could say was, "Oh, don't tell me that!"
While I was in the backroom, the guy had paid for his gas and when he tried to pump it, his intake was too far, so he hung up the nozzle, which reset the console, and i saw him just in time to see him repositioning his car. He only took the gas he had paid for.
My boss and I sat around the rest of the day wondering when the cops would show up. He didn't fire me. I don't know why. He must have liked me for some dumb reason.
Thank God I didn't blow out the guys tires. It turned out that gun had target rounds in it only, so they were less likely to penetrate the rubber.
We speculated on what had happened. I don't recall him ever looking back. Did the screeching tires cover up the sound? Did he think his car was backfiring? Did he see me coming and think, "Christ! You buy some gas and they come out shooting!"
We never heard from him and the cops. And it only took me a year to live it down.
So. Are you up to telling the truth? Your stupidest moment? I'd like to hear from three of you:
1) Feisty Girl: Tell us all about that hidden humilation, Christina.
2) You too Phin: What's the stupid story that you only tell when drunk?
3) And Ian of Banana Oil!: Right back at ya. That one unspeakable night in Shanghai... By the way, be careful if you are at work and you click on any of his Beauties of the Day. I know. I've looked at every one. (Bad, WitNit...bad...bad...)
UPDATE: Seems I should clarify. Although every Stupidest Moment is humiliating, not every humiliating moment is stupid. What was your Stupidest Moment?
*** No wonder I?m so confused! One of my parents was a man, and the other was a woman. Ashleigh Brilliant
Posted by witnit at April 20, 2005 12:00 AM