The Time I had to “Curb my Enthusiasm”

This is not my usual kind of post but I had to share it with someone so you, my recruiting friends.

This morning, December 31st, 2009 I had a total Larry David moment. I seriously could hear the light little tune that is a staple of his show running through my head. Please try to hear that in your head as you read this.

The other guy, I have never seen him before in my life but let’s call him Larry, arrived at the gas station before me and attempted to use the automated payment system with cash. For some reason the machine, which usually takes cash, did not, so he went inside to pay the attendant directly.

I drive up about 10 seconds later and go to the automated payment system and punch in the pump number I want and proceed to put my card in to pay for the gas in pump 2, or so I think. At the end of my transaction the automated payment system gives me permission to proceed to pump 7 to begin fueling my car. Pump 7? So I look over to where Larry’s car is parked, a hybrid of course, and he begins pumping away.

“Excuse me sir,” I call over to him and get his attention, “There’s been some mistake because somehow my card just authorized that pump and I didn’t select it.” Just then the attendant comes running out of her booth and yells an apology to me and says she’ll clear it up and reset the pump and then runs back inside. He’s pumped less than a few bucks worth by then, but he just keeps on pumping. I give him a quizzical look that I believe says, “What the heck dude, stop pumping my gas!” and he responds with, “she’ll work it all out,” and continues pumping.

A few seconds later she slowly emerges from her booth and gives him the same “what the heck” look that I did and then looks at me with a “what the heck is he doing?” look and then goes back into her booth. This situation is clearly outside the parameters of her job description.

He pumps to just past $40 and then we both approach the booth. She gives him his change in cash since he had given her $60, but she keeps the transaction fee of 45 cents. Being the season of giving and peace and love and goodwill – he argues with her and subsequently bullies her into giving him the 45 cents (not a problem really since it was my transaction fee that she was trying to slap on him). I patiently wait for him to win his argument and get paid and then she looks at me and says, “I don’t know what to do.”

Really…I mean REALLY? As if 2009 wasn’t bad enough, with job insecurity, bills piling up now you are going to screw me out of $40 on the last day of the year? That’s a night of babysitting around here. Fast food dinner and a movie. A frickin tank of gas!

So here we are at the booth, she has my $40+ electronically and his $40 in cash. He has a tank of gas and his change. And I am out $40 and have no gas. This is where I reign myself in so I don’t go all George Costanza on anyone.

I quickly tell the attendant to put the same amount as the cost of his gas on my pump and I will come back for the change if I don’t use as much.

As we head back to our cars Larry tells me how he tried to use the pre-pay system but never told her to clear the machine when he gave her cash. Gee, thanks for laying in wait for me to get screwed Larry.

All told I pumped in $3 less than Larry, and when the attendant gave me my change I reminded her to take the 45 cents for the service charge so her drawer doesn’t come up short. Hey, it’s New Year’s Eve and I am hoping for a little good karma (car-ma?) in 2010.

At some point, I am guessing, I expect that in true Curb Your Enthusiasm style I will run into Larry again some time soon and have the opportunity to add a little discomfort to his life. If course since life is not a television program no matter how much it may feel like one I hope to be more accommodating to him that he was to me.

Wishing you all the best good Karma in 2010!

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