Gas stations are places where one goes to procure gasoline. At a minimum they consist of some gas pumps and a sales kiosk. More elaborately they can include a huge selection of snack foods, vehicular accessories, restaurants, and other items for folks on long car trips. The exact composition typically depends on location. A gas station directly off of a highway will have a different focus from a station in the middle of a small town or major city. Regardless of location, non fuel purchases tend to be items that can or will be used while driving. Foods that can be eaten with hands, earbuds, car phone chargers, cigarettes, beer, lottery tickets, and all things impulse buy are the stuff of gas stations.

By their nature gas stations exist in an odd liminal state because they are at once essential and filled with trivial indulgences. Contact with them is ephemeral in duration and inescapable in necessity. They also cut across most interpersonal divides in the least intrusive way. Well off or struggling, liberal or conservative, man or woman, people spend the requisite three minutes a week in middling proximity of the pumps, unobtrusively watching or ignoring each other. The person on the other side of the pump can live two blocks or two states away, be a fry cook or a fugitive, and you'll never know. For all of these reasons, I think gas stations have a sort of banal mystique. In the mixture of highly flammable fuel, junk food, and total strangers a lot can happen and almost nothing ever does.

262 Nodeshell rescue

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