Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We all need each other!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by 
Two Writing Teachers.
I pull off the freeway, glad to be out of traffic on this dreary day, chanting three phrases to remind me of the the stops I need to make so I can return home and stay there.  "Bread - Gas- Post Office."  I stop at a grocery store where I usually don't shop, trying to plot the quickest path for my three stops.  I step out, needing an umbrella, but refusing to dig mine out of the back seat since Seattleites don't use umbrellas.  There's something about real rain in Seattle (as opposed to our usual gentle mist) that brings out the hermit in me.  I just want to finish my errands and hibernate, out of the rain and the cold.   Just my luck, the bread I want to purchase is sold out!  How is that possible when 3/4 of our community is away skiing in the mountains or sunning on the beach in Hawaii?

I force myself to add a 4th stop to the list by stopping at my usual grocery store.  I grab the loaf of bread and a couple of other items before dashing back to the car.  Only two more stops and I can head home where I'll stay dry and cozy for the remainder of the day.  I pull up behind another car at the gas station.  Since no one is getting out, I hope the customer is almost finished so that I can pull in out of the rain to fill my gas tank.  After waiting a few moments, a little old lady steps out.  I sigh, back up, pull into the road and circle around so that I can easily access the gas tank out of the rain, except that this rain is blowing a bit sideways so really there is no out of the rain for anyone today.  I fill the tank even though I'm tempted to purchase just a few gallons because it might be raining again the next time I need gas.  I'm glad that I'm wearing my winter fleece.  The breeze and the rain is bone-chilling.  I can't wait to finish up, only one more stop - post office - and then home.  

I glance over my shoulder to see the same little old lady in the next lane trying to reach the opposite side of her car with the gas nozzle.  She gives up and returns the nozzle to the pump, baffled by her situation.  I walk over and encourage her to pull out, turn around, and come back in so that her tank will be next to the pump.  I vow to hang around and give her a hand when she tells me that her husband always did this for her.  He's in the front seat, but no longer able to help her.  

When she gets the car turned around, I step over to help her with the automated process and encourage her to use her Freddy QFC number because she can get 30 cents per gallon discount with it.  She inputs her phone number, but the machine doesn't recognize her number, and then we are unable to start another transaction.   After several tries, she heads inside to see the young man and get  his help.  He comes out, and is also unable to initiate the transaction.  She follows him so that he can scan the credit card inside.  All this time I'm standing beside her car in the rain worrying about her because she is only wearing a light jacket, and I'm shivering in my fleece jacket.  I keep reminding myself that this could be my grandmother, and I would hope that someone would help her out in a similar situation.  

He scans her card and motions that it's okay for me to fill the tank.  I begin the process, using the top quality gas that she insists her husband always buys.  I'm holding the handle because there isn't one of those silver thingys to keep the gas flowing.  The young man inside comes out to tell me that there is no need to keep holding it since it's automatic.  I reply that it doesn't have the silver thingy, and he shows me that it doesn't need it.  Hmmph!  Apparently the pumps on this side have a new technology that hadn't reached my side yet.  I needed the silver thingy.   By now, I'm realizing that keeping up with technology is a lost cause, and this little old lady couldn't be my grandmother, but she might be my mom, and I would want someone to help her.  

We finish the transaction, and I explain to her about the click she needs to hear when she screws the lid on the gas tank.  When you don't do that, you end up with an unneeded trip to the dealer and a promise that they will charge you the next time this happens (voice of experience speaking).  I can't resist telling her that she really should wear a heavier jacket when the weather is so inclement.  She replies that she hasn't had a cold in eight years (not a claim that I can match).  

As I pull away, I hear her car alarm going off!  I watch in my rear view mirror to make sure that she figures out how to turn it off and pull away chanting, "One more stop - post office- and then I can go home."  

I also realize that this lady could be me in ten years.  Heck, it's me every day as my students watch my feeble attempts to utilize technology in my classroom.  It makes me appreciate them even more!  


  1. Bravo for stepping up and helping out this "little old lady" - and yes, that's me in ten years maybe, too. I try to remember and be patient, as you were at the gas station, your empathy made all the difference in her evening, I'm sure. Your slice also made me glad that I live in New Jersey - it's the only thing I really like about New Jersey - for we are not allowed to pump our own gas. And I have never really learned how, although your slice makes me have second thoughts!

    1. I love to visit Oregon, you can't pump your gas there. It's a treat to stay in the car.

    2. I have those days, those thoughts about grandma, mom, wait... no me. So good of you to help this lady. I'm hoping there are a lot of people like you around---to help us out when we don't understand or can't do! (really gas pumps with no thingy?!)

  2. In NY State we don't have the silver things and we don't have the fancy technology either! With this bitter cold winter, I always think back fondly to our time in Oregon whenever I have to fill up and stand out there holding the pump the whole time.

  3. You are such a kind person, Ramona! Imagine the story this lady told her family about the lady who rescued her at the pump. I hope the rest of your day allowed you to stay dry and enjoy the bread that you picked up.

  4. I remember my mother was so frustrated that she had to start pumping her own gas & I showed her how, but wasn't sure how she managed when I wasn't there. What a kind thing you did, Ramona, despite your hurry and chill! I love the way you told this story too, loved the details & your slow realization that it wasn't your grandmother, it was going to be you in not too long, & it was you at school. I think I'm a pretty good techie until I watch the students! Thanks for sharing such a nice moment.

  5. I could make so many connections while reading this piece- remembering that Northwest drizzle/rain(I lived in the Portland area for 10+ years), chanting a list so I won't forget, rushing to get home... the lady at the gas station- could have been my mom, soon could be me... and me and technology, compared to students and technology!!!

  6. I taught my mom to pump gas after my dad died- he had always done that for her. I'm so glad you were there to help her.