Most of you are familiar with perhaps the most epic of all humiliating stories, the fart story. To commemorate it’s 5th year making people laugh and cringe, I'm starting a series of my most embarrassing moments. I now present to you the time I wrecked a gas station!
Some people close to me have asked why I haven’t shared this story with the masses yet. Could it be my deep embarrassment caused me to block out it out of my psyche? Perhaps. All I know is that I’m finally, hesitantly, ready now.
It’s one of those things you know would never happen to you. Until it does. You’ve heard of it happening to others and guffaw laughed at the stupidity. I know I did. Until I did it.
Yes, everyone. I stand before you raw. Naked (figuratively, don’t be weird). Vulnerable.
Here’s the story:
I was in Dallas visiting a friend, but while I was there I made arrangements to meet another friend. Okay fine, it was some cute guy I met on a dating website. Moving on.
(Have you noticed most of my most horrific shame filled stories involve dates? Me too.)
Per usual, I was running late, in a big concrete jungle of a city I wasn’t familiar with at all, and I needed gas. I pulled up, pumped my gas, and realized I had to pee at a pressure point that meant holding it in wasn’t an option. Frustrated and foiled, I ran inside the station, where I met a locked bathroom door. I had passed the window of arriving to my “date” fashionably late a long, long time ago. My lateness was now on the verge of a “character flaw” so my mood wasn’t feeling generous to the woman inside the bathroom taking her sweet ass time. This is a gas station bathroom, not a spa!
As an aside, am I the only person, every time, without fail, who has to use a gas station bathroom only to meet a locked door with a woman inside who appears to be in a fierce battle with the stomach flu? Every road trip of my life, I’ve had to come face to face with a sad, frightening toilet that has just been used and abused by the woman before me. I mean, what are the odds?
Finally after what seemed like a good 17 minutes, a woman emerged holding three bags of Bugle Bites. Bugle Bites? Three bags?! And you took them inside the crapper? Move aside woman, I have no time!
After doing my business, I fled from the bathroom and ran back to my car, fired it up like it was Porsche, not a humble Passat, and peeled out of the parking lot. Immediately I heard a loud thump, like I hit something. I checked my rear view mirror and saw nothing behind me, so I shrugged it off. That’s when I met eyes with a woman pumping her gas, looking at my car, laughing. Then I looked ahead and met the eyes of a man, vacuuming his car, with a look of amused shock.
Did I hit something - funny? Surely they would have different reactions if I was say, dragging the pooping Bugle Bites woman behind my car, right?
I checked all of my mirrors and didn’t see anything suspicious, so I let it go. I must have hit the trash can or something.
I pulled on to the highway, and that’s when I started to hear a strange noise. Was it a loud clicking? Or was it a dragging noise? What was it?
That’s when I noticed I was also being gawked at by people passing me. Okay, this can’t be a coincidence. I realized I must be dragging something, but what could it be? A man pulled up next to me and made the motion for me to roll down my window, so I did.
“The gas nozzle is still in your gas tank!” he yelled as we both navigated Dallas highway traffic.
“What?!” I heard him, but I didn’t want to hear him.
“The gas nozzle is in your gas tank! You’re dragging the tube! It’s sparking!”
I immediately looked in my rear view mirror and saw sparks light up behind me like fire works.
OH. MY. GOD. I’M DRAGGING THE FREAKING GAS TUBE NOZZLE THINGIE!!
I immediately made my way to the next exit. Was gas spewing out of my car? Was I going to blow up? Was gas exploding like a fountain at the gas station? Was the gas station going to blow up?
I was in my mid-twenties, okay? I was a smidge dramatic back then.
I made my way back to the station, dragging a sparking tube behind me like an asshole. I might as well have been topless riding a camel on the side walk. Everyone was staring, pointing, gawking, laughing. I shriveled up inside myself and died a slow, miserable death back to the gas station.
As I pulled up, the same people who witnessed me rip the tube out were all huddled together like they called the cops on the crazy woman who just wrecked the gas station. When they saw me, they all stared, still grinning goony grins.
I drove up to the front door and ran inside, feeling all of the feelings available to me - nervousness, fear, shock, embarrassment, regret, denial and the tick tock of extreme lateness.
“Um, hi,” I said to the teenage cashier who looked like she’d rather be dead than be there. I know how you feel, sister. “I drove off with the gas nozzle in my gas tank and pretty much ripped that puppy right off. Any tips on how I can quickly remedy this?” We both turned our heads and looked out the window at my car with a big long tube jutting out the side of it.
“Just put it back, it’s fine,” she said monotoned and unimpressed.
“Oh, so - I don’t have to, I dunno, leave my insurance or anything? I’m new to damaging gas station property.”
“No, it’s fine. It pops off for people like you.”
People like me, eh? I deserved that.
“Um, okay then. Bye!” I ran out of the station, pulled up to the pump and put the nozzle back, then looked over at the group of people huddled together staring at me and murdered all of them with eye darts.
At this point I was shaking, relieved, and slowly coming off a humiliation roller coaster ride. The perfect time to go on a date!
I picked up my phone and dialed. “Oh hey, Mark? I’m so sorry I’m running late. I was just getting gas and the person at the pump next to me drove off with the gas nozzle still stuck in their tank! It was a whole big thing - tube sparking behind them and everything. Anyhoo - I’ll be there in 20 minutes. Order me a Rosé!”