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Hey Kiddo! Feeling like a curmudgeon at the gas pump

July 31, 2010
The Mining Journal

"See ya, kiddo."

That's the way a recent interview subject ended her first-ever telephone conversation with me. It made me chuckle because the woman probably wasn't much older than me. She might even have been my age or younger.

But I am called "kiddo" or "kid" a lot, even by people younger than I am.

Which is ironic, considering how curmudgeonly I have felt of late.

Like Sunday night on the way home from an absolutely fabulous day highlighted by viewing a wonderful production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" featuring Jeffrey Brian Jennings. Jeff is the extremely talented younger brother of my dear high school pal, Jon Jennings.

My friend Heather and I stopped to gas up my truck and purchase beverages in a small Wisconsin burg when it happened. After placing the gas nozzle in my tank, I turned to press "pay inside" on the pump only to find that choice had been covered with black electrical tape.

Perplexed, I went inside and found the cashier frazzled beyond reason, possibly because she was alone and there was a foreign gentleman trying to secure a Wisconsin fishing license at 10 o'clock in the evening, among maybe half a dozen other customers.

She was attempting to call her supervisor, comprehend the gentleman's accent and keep an eye on the other people in the store, including someone talking loudly on his cell phone, using "dude" in every sentence.

Patiently, I waited for her to have as second to answer my question. Finally, as she was on hold on the telephone, waiting for her supervisor, she looked at me, so I asked if I could pay for my gas in cash.

"You want to pay cash?" she blurted as though it was a totally crazy request. When I put a twenty on the counter, she looked rattled and attempted to push the correct button on the pump system.

"Go out and try it," she said as she got back to her phone call and to ringing up other customers while the foreign fisherman bided his time.

Back to the pump I went. It would not dispense gas so I went back in and told her. She asked me to try again, so back outside I trotted only to find the pump still not operational.

When I returned again to tell her this, she stared at me dumbfoundedly.

"One more time, I guess," she said as she touched some more buttons.

Patience is one of my better personality traits but at this point, I was about one second away from going on a curmudgeonly rant about new-fangled machines and how cash should always be welcome.

Heaven knows the cashier was trying her best but gosh darn if that best was a bit less than adequate.

Thankfully, the pump worked this time, I added $19.55 in fuel, which filled the tank, and we were on the way home once again.

While I pride myself on being one of those middle-aged people who keeps up with the changing world, that whole gas-station experience made me feel ancient. Paying cash apparently is a dead practice and I somehow missed the obituary.

While I am no longer a "kiddo," I don't think I am a dinosaur, either. So if there is a choice to be made, I'd take "kid" over "fogey" every time. Just don't make me get all curmudgeonly on you, OK?

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is



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