I, and you are invited not to laugh, got myself a Dodge Neon
last week. The dealership filled up the tank for me (they called it a friendly gesture), and I was able to keep some gas
in it until about a week later. This is especially interesting considering that I was also able to get myself lost about 2 hours from home a few days ago, yet still made it back with something in the tank. In any case, I could strain the gas needle no more. I bit the bullet and pulled into a gas station
First, of course, the fucking gas cap is on the right side of the car, rather uniquely. So I swing around on the ice rink like pavement and approach from the other direction. Getting out of the car I greet a large "please pay first" sign. I walk into the building and vie for the attention of the surly cashier. "Give me, oh I don't know, $15.00 on number 2," I say as I hand her a $20.00. You can see my mistake already, I'm sure, but wait 'cause there's more. She gives me my change and I plod back to the car.
Being something of a novice when it comes to things automotive, it took me a few minutes to actually figure out the operation of the standard American gas pump. I'll be honest, I've never really had my own car before, and for practical purposes this was the first time I had even pumped gas. However, in short order I am on my merry way. After all, I have an IQ of 140, and everything is clearly labeled in elementary English. "It can't be that hard," I assured myself.
I set the nozzle a-pumpin', and wash my filthy windows with the convenient, complementary squeegee. $8.53 into my mission, the pump cuts off with a lurch. Rather confused, I pull the probus out and stick it back in. I pull the trigger and gas flows steadily for a few more seconds before it stops again. I glance back at the pump. $8.72 it laughs back at me. I stumble around for a few seconds trying to think of the obvious mistake I surely made. "Fuck," slides from my mouth and crystallizes into fog in the freezing air.
I open the driver side door looking for buttons and switches and levers and dials. Nothing. I walk back to the pump and try the nozzle. Gas flows for a few seconds and stops. This time, several ounces of rich, acrid gasoline gurgles out of the tank and rushes down to collect in a swirling puddle at the wheel. $9.12 the pump reads.
I pull the hose out and reinsert it. I jam it in as far as I can push and pull the trigger. Gas flows for a second before cutting off. Several ounces of clear-brown liquid bubbles out and down. "Fuck," I say again while looking around in quite desperation.
Suddenly, a black Neon pulls up to the pump behind me. A scary-looking punker chick jumps out and gallops inside the building. I wait in the cold for a minute, knowing that she must have the answers I seek.
Soon, the glass doors open and she jogs back to her car. As she passes me I call out, "Excuse me!" She stops. Her nose ring catching the sun as she spins. "I've never put gas in a Neon before, and there's something weird happening." I try to say it in a way that doesn't scream, "Hey! I'm, like, a fucking loser who doesn't even know how to pump gas, and I suck, and, well, could you do it for me?" She stands right next to me, black army boots punching holes in the soft snow, nose ring glittering in the cold sun light.
I continue, "I'm hitting the trigger put then it just stops and gas, like, just gurgles out." I try to act as cool and intelligent as I can, almost as if I actually have a clue and that, hey, it's the car that's moronic, not me.
She giggles. "Yeah, I know. Mine does that too," she reassures me. "You gotta stick it in like just a little bit or else it will overflow."
I'm dumbfounded. "What do you mean?"
"If you stick it in all the way it does that. You have to just barely put it in or else you'll never get a full tank of gas. It's really stupid."
Revelation. "Oh, like put the nozzle just past the barrier?" I ask.
"Yeah," she said. Then ominously, "You should never have bought a Neon."
I smiled and laughed, "I guess..." She turned to leave, but what a terrifying omen! "Thanks," I call out.
I did as she instructed and managed to get a bit more in the tank before it was clearly full with gas pooling in the narrow slant of the opening. The pump: $9.62. "Oh, good," I breathed. I climbed into the car and started it up. The needle shot all the way up. I had over-estimated the size of the Neon gas tank by about $5.00. I briefly considered going back to the cashier and asking for the difference, but decided against any further indignities. The most tactful way out would be shameless retreat, I decided.
So I replaced the nozzle and got back in the car, glared at the cashier from afar, and pulled out onto the street. The usually zippy Neon felt a bit sluggish with a full belly, but as I whizzed past the far side of the gas station I vowed, just so I might ignore my embarrassing ordeal forever, to never patron a Shell station ever again. Take that, you fucking bastards.