Monday, April 6, 2020

Gas Pump Jockey

It was X# summers ago. I'd been driving through rural countryside in the South, no destination in mind, just enjoying the scenery. Then as I was passing a ramshackle service station, a guy stepped outside. He looked about 18 or so but hard to tell with his beat up old cap on. The visible hair was both dark and bright blond. His jeans were ragged and dirty. He had on a greenish-brown shirt — also dirty and ragged — with the sleeves torn out, showing off tanned arms, and it was unbuttoned down to the waist where I could see an inch or so of Hanes tighty-whities below the treasure trail. The bushy blond underarm pubes were glistening with droplets of sweat sliding slowly down his torso.

All this registered in about a second. I hit the brakes a little too hard, paused, and backed up. He looked at me without speaking, no expression on his face, so that I finally said, “Guess I need some gas.” Even though I really didn't.

He rubbed fingers over the stubble on his chin, gave a nod, and I pulled up to the closest pump.

“That’s diesel.”

I looked around, my eyes not able to avoid lingering on the golden glow inside his shirt. “Oh, sorry,” I mumbled, and pulled further up to the next pump.

“Yeah?” Just inquisitive, not attitudinal, clearly not a conversationalist.

When I didn’t answer, he asked, “What d'you want?”

I managed to say without too much affect, “I want you to fill it up.”

Was there the tiniest, briefest hint of a grin? Couldn’t tell for sure, but on that basis I got out of the car.

“You have a restroom?”

He nodded and gestured over his shoulder to the back of the building.

“Do I need a key?”

This time he did smile and shook his head no.

The restroom door was propped open and wouldn't close. Didn't matter, I had to whiz like a race horse. Which was complicated by the fact that I was totally boned. By the time I got back, trying to hide the bulge in my jeans, he was finished and putting the gas cap back on.

“What do I owe you?”

He looked at me for a while before saying, “What do you think it’s worth?”

Wishing I had the guts to tell him what I thought it would be worth, I answered, “Probably more than I’ve got” and handed him a $20 bill.

He took it, looked at me, pulled out an old wallet, stuffed it in, and with another smile and a wave said, “Come again.”

I started to wave back but instead felt the immediate need to readjust my bulge. When he noticed, the smile became a chuckle, and — head shaking — he slowly walked back inside.