I pushed the button and the gas pump display read, “See cashier for debit card purchase”. I thought about it for half a second, screwed on the gas cap, got back in the truck and drove off in search of a less impudent pump.
Back in the day, before pay-at-the-pump, there was no choice. You went inside the store to pay for your gas. Many people still follow that process and often take the opportunity to get a snack and a cold drink. But, I’ve developed the habit of just gassing up and going my way and avoiding a trip into the store.
It’s usually not that far from the gas pump to the store’s checkout, so I don’t believe it’s laziness on my part. And, if you’re not filling up (and having to make the dreaded double trip), the process of going inside usually doesn’t take much more time. So it’s not from my being in a rush.
No, I think the avoidance comes from the fact that once you go inside the store, you’re at the mercy of…people. Is the clerk more concerned with griping to a co-worker about the boss than they are about helping you? Or, is your timing perfect and you get to wait for a shift change at the cash register? Or, did you manage to hit convenience store rush hour and there is a line of customers ahead of you?
That afternoon, not long after I headed out in search of the next gas station, I remembered a trip several weeks before. I was traveling through the farms, fields and forests of rural Georgia. It was a cold, clear, beautiful morning. When it was necessary to stop for gas, I only had one choice in the small town I was passing through. That store didn’t have an impudent pump display – it didn’t have a display or pay at the pump at all.
So, I stopped at the pump and went inside, wondering what strange happenings would occur to delay my getting back on the road. The clerk said “good morning” and I responded and asked how he was doing. He replied something to the effect of “Great! The Lord has blessed us with a wonderful day”.
All aggravation and impatience melted away. I began describing the beautiful sights I had seen and the thankfulness to God I had felt thus far on my morning’s journey. As I paid for the gas, we had an enjoyable conversation about the changing season and its contrast to the heat of the summer that was finally ending. I was soon on my way, feeling refreshed from the encounter.
With the memory of that earlier trip in mind, I relaxed in my search for the next station, and thought about lessons learned:
- We can bypass some aggravation by avoiding interaction with people. But, doing that causes us to miss many of the blessings of life. It also prevents us being “the light(s) of the world” as Jesus calls us to be. Taking that further, it’s when we are acting as Jesus says, that we truly receive the blessings. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
- When we are given a lesson, we need to remember it. “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.” Proverbs 3:1-2
- And for me, personally – take a chance the next time the gas pump display tells me to do something I don’t want to.