My Favorite Gas Station

Submitted by Regina on Tue, 05/17/2016 - 23:31

There are three gas stations in my town. Why a small town has three gas stations, I really could not say. Two of the gas stations are directly across the street from each other, but the people in my family only go to the gas station on the right side of the street. “Will it be the guy in shorts?” I always ask, and the answer is nearly always “yes.” “The guy in shorts” is what we call him, but I shall abbreviate that title to the name 'Jim.' I have no reason to think that is his name, but it seems close enough.
Jim is nearly always there, by the center of town, working at the gas station. He is quite grizzly, a mixture of troll, dwarf, hobbit, and ogre. His face is covered in a dirty beard, and his head is covered in long dirty hair. He squints his eyes and waddles over to our window, so we keep the window mostly shut.
Most distinguishing about Jim are his shorts. Come winter, come fall, he always wears shorts. There are a few possible reasons for this. First of all, as I always point out, Jim's legs are exceedingly short, and his shorts are hopelessly baggy. Thus, only about 5 inches of leg remain visible between shorts and boots. I conjecture that Jim has settled on baggy shorts as a happy medium. His legs are too short for full-length pants, and his waistline too thick for small pants. So he wears extra-large shorts.
The other reason requires a longer explanation. This past winter, we had one extraordinarily cold day. It was -8 degrees Fahrenheit, I think. That evening, my dad and I happened to visit the gas station. As we approached, we looked around for Jim. “Will he be in shorts?” Yep, there he was, in his weather beaten, rusty old shorts. Unbeknownst to Jim, my dad and I discussed this fact, as Jim got our gas.
“Why doesn't he put long pants on?” My dad asked.
“I don't know, he must be freezing!”
“Should I ask him?”
“Oooh yes, ask him!”
So when Jim came back, my dad modestly suggested. “Maybe you should put long pants on. It's going to be so cold.” Jim said, “Nah, cold's fine, cold's fine. Feels good. I like the cold. Cold's fine.” So that was that.
The next time we came, which was not long after, there was Jim, “the guy in shorts”, waddling about as usual, his same old dirty self. I felt a strange fondness toward him now—such a dependable, weather-beaten old chap. Besides, there was something distinctly cheerful about that brisk waddle of his. It expressed a kind of confidence, contentment, as if it said, “this is my lot in life. I wouldn't ask for more.” And, do you know, just in that one moment, I almost envied him. I asked myself, “Why am I always hankering for more? Always more, never satisfied. Why can't I be happy doing the same thing every day, like this guy in shorts?” But of course, I realize my lot in life does not pertain to gas stations—at least, not more than it already does. I wonder what Jim would think if he knew I'd written and posted this on ApricotPie. He probably wouldn't care.

Author's age when written


I LOVE this! It is so quaint--I love the idiosyncrasies of small towns! And I love that you've christened him Jim--judging from his appearance, which was very well-described, it seems to fit. Thank you for sharing! Living in (somewhat) of a small town myself, I totally understand having those people that seem like staples...the ladies that work at the library desk, the cashiers we joke around with, the man who hurries by with his groceries and the one that walks his dog. That's what I enjoy about the get to know people. They're your town-family, really. So yes, this piece brought to mind a bunch of different nostalgic feelings. :)

This is quite charming! Although I have to say, the familiar transient who used to traverse all over the place in my small hometown had a bit less innocuous of a vibe to him . . .

Welcome to Apricot Pie! I hope to read more of your writing here. : )

This is lovely! Beautiful message at the end. I wasn't expecting it. :)

I don’t thrive off of chaos: chaos thrives off of me.