I lurched my 95 Ford Contour into my neighborhood Safeway gas station for a much needed fill-up. It was crowded, but please note: I took one of three spots open. As I opened my car door, an older town-car slid up next to me, coming from in front of my car. This is important, the fact that the car I am referring to came up from ahead of me. Also important is that there were two pumps in front of me - the first was empty, the second had a man hanging up his pump... and I was last. In other words, this town car passed two oth...anyway, I am getting ahead of myself.
The driver of the town-car rolled down her window. She was old. I am NOT being rude, she was old, and I am terrible at guessing ages. So I will refer to her as "elderly." The "elderly" driver of the town-car waved at me. I smiled as I started to exit my own vehicle. She must think she knows me.
"Excuse me, miss," she said, barely audible over the roar of the engine.
"Excuse me, miss, but I did not realize my gas cap was on this side..." she waved a bony hand, motioning to the left.
I stared blankly. Was she asking me? Or simply informing me that she had indeed made a mistake and then corrected herself. Honestly, I don't think she noticed my confusion. She assumed I hadn't heard her and repeated herself. It slowly dawned on me that she wanted my pump. Again my confusion. Like I noted earlier, she had passed one completely open pump, on her left, and a pump that was about to be open. She passed these to get to me. I strained my neck to look at the open pump. As I did, I asked "Oh, is that pump out of order?" I saw myself that it wasn't, and waited for an explanation or an exclamation at yet another realization on the "elderly" woman's part that she had not seen that. She just repeated herself. Again. I spoke louder, as the "elderly" are sometimes hard of hearing: "OH, IS THAT PUMP OUT OF ORDER?" The man in front of me was chuckling as he screwed on his gas cap. The woman repeated herself again and added sternly, "I need that pump." I replied, "Are you kidding me lady?! You just passed up a STILL empty pump on the correct side and a person who is obviously going to be leaving before we are even done with this conversation..." But what it actually sounded like coming out of my mouth was "oh."
I wanted to say all that and turn in a huff and go on with pumping my gas. But she was elderly. I was supposed to respect my elders regardless of intelligence, blindness, dementia, entitlement, rudeness...any number of ailments that may have caused this woman to pick on me. So I looked up at the empty pump once again, then at the man who was motioning at me as he got into his car; he found the situation quite amusing and was indicating that I should just pull forward as he left. I slunk back into my car, hoping that it was in such desperate need for fuel that it wouldn't even start...that would show her! But it started right up and the "elderly," roaring town-car driver just sat patiently, staring at me as I waited for the man to move. He drove off and as I pulled forward, a hearty "Thank you!" sang out of the town-car window.