Face Masks and Carrots

What an adventure the last year has been. That covers that.

It seems I’ve been spending rather a lot of time working in the Filling Station in the last few months and it’s still the place to be for a really good laugh. On the other side of the coin, there have been some frustrations too.

I’ve not blogged for a while and that’s really been down to a lack of energy after doing ma heed in at work! I have to been in the right frame of mind to write things down here. After all, it’s pretty public.

As I’ve been working away, I have been writing in my diary all the goings-on. For 5 months when there really hasn’t been much ‘going on’, it’s surprisingly full. Some funny tales, some not so funny and some that made me grind my teeth with frustration! Funnily enough, the more knackered I got, the shorter the fuse. I apologise to any of our loyal customers if I have been a bit off colour some days! Some wee tales that I share with you may be a bit of a rant. Sorry about that. I’ll try not to get too carried away.

Once again, I have to thank all the HGV drivers who come in regularly. They provide traffic updates, opinions on the current ‘politics’, the occasional bit of good-nature cheek and generally great craic. Imagine my surprise when one, Davy (diesel, coffee, bacon roll), announced that he reads my blog and enjoys the laugh. I might have even blushed. Hurrah for face masks.

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Where do I begin? Probably right at the start of the year when we were a couple of weeks into lock-down. There were the usual suspects, normally in their mid-twenties who were travelling around when they shouldn’t have been. Personally, I wouldn’t have noticed… if they had bothered to wear face masks. There were 3 lads came in and two weren’t wearing masks. “Do you have masks?” I asked. I was totally blanked by two of them and the third pipes up, “I have dyslexia.” WTAF? There’s no accounting for stupid.

Others are just lazy. So, you’re exempt from wearing a mask? Really? We’ve all run out of energy asking people where their masks are. We’ve been wearing them for a year now. Well, most of us have. The decent ones wear the lanyard to clearly show they are exempt. Others I am sure just can’t be arsed. One lad I challenged declared that his lanyard was in his pocket. He was unceremoniously told, “Well, don’t be lazy. Put it round your neck!” When he came back in later in the day, and didn’t have it round his neck, he had to be told again. FFS.

Sometime at the beginning of April, I was starting to get a bit cranky with some of the twenty-somethings that came in the door without a mask. Two lads; one wearing a mask. “Do you have a mask, please?” I asked. “No.” he answered. “Are you exempt from wearing one?” I asked. “No.” One last try: “Do you have 50p to buy one?” When he said no, I asked him to leave. His pal, with the mask left too in a huff. Good. 1-0 to Fi. The customers that were in the shop were on the verge of bursting into applause.

So where do carrots fit in? Wildlife is wonderful, isn’t it? Some forget though that it’s called ‘wild’ life for a reason. Over the last few years, there have probably been thousands who have traveled to Glencoe to feed the deer. The beasts had got so ‘friendly’ that the deer were feeding out of peoples’ hands. Super, huh? So, selling carrots individually in the Filling Station became a bit of a thing. During lock-down when the weather was good, there were dozens of cars of folk going up to Glencoe to feed the deer. I wasn’t going to complain, the carrot sales were good. The problem became when the deer were so hungry they were getting ferocious (hangry?). Antlers down and maul springs to mind. Sadly, the previously friendly deer have had to be culled. I know that our carrot buying customers must have been very disappointed after their (illegal) trip to Glencoe! I didn’t really want to say to them, sorry, you’re wasting your time, they’re all in stews…

It’s really handy when you go into a Filling Station that you are aware of a couple of things. 1) What side your fuel cap is on. 2) What pump you filled at. 3) How much your fuel was.

What entertainment we have watching people pull up at a pump and it’s the wrong side for their fuel cap. Then they move the car to another pump… and it’s STILL the wrong side. We don’t have hoses on our pumps that are on a bit of stretchy elastic either. No, we are not going to authorise the pumps if you keep yanking on the hoses! The motorcyclist that came in when the forecourt was HEAVING and I was on till 2, which does not give me the view of the forecourt. “Do you have fuel, sir?” I ask. “Yes, mine’s the orange bike.” After asking what pump he was on, he wasn’t able to answer, so I went to the window and have a look for the orange bike. There wasn’t an orange bike in view anywhere, and I presume he had parked it up before he came in. We worked it out eventually, thankfully. He got a roasting from me. Unless it’s a GSA (BMW beast) motorcycle fill ups are not large amounts. Please try to remember the pump and how much you put in. It’s just really helpful! One woman came in and when I asked what pump she was at, she waved her hand in a blase way towards the forecourt. Full of mischief (and a bit of frustration) I said, “That’ll be £154.60 please.” Her chin dropped to the floor. I knew exactly what pump she was at… It’s a shame she didn’t care enough and thankfully took the wee lesson well.

Now, we are famous for our toilets, which are even more popular than our Cullen Skink! Given the essential need for fuel, we have of course kept out toilets (and shower) in use. I realised I was reaching the end of my tether when it really irked me when customers would come in and ask, “Do you have public toilets?” My stock answer is always, “No, we don’t have public toilets, we have customer toilets. If you want public toilets, they are down the road 200 meters.” Of course the customers want to use ours. I know I would. What really started to get under my skin though, happened quite a lot. Customers would come into the Filling Station and I will always try to say an appropriate greeting. “Good morning!” I’d say, truly wanting to welcome every customer. “Where are your toilets?” as a reply doesn’t sit well with me, so I would use ‘stuck record’ technique and say exactly the same thing again, until I got a response. So many customers just point blank ignore the effort being made. Now, Mr Policeman, if you are reading this, I am glad that you blushed at the time. At least he apologised profusely afterwards. As for those that ignore your greeting, walk in, head down, use the loo and leave. Don’t get me started.

Things got a bit heated in the Filling Station on the run up to the 26th of April, when everyone was ‘let loose’. It was so busy we had to stop customers entering until others had left. I thank those for their patience whilst waiting. The number of people who tried to skip the queue was beyond belief. “All I want to do is use the loo!” At this point I would indicated the patient customers biding their time to get in and say, “Yes, and so are all these other people too!” Those who uttered, “For fu$ks sake!” Were promptly invited to go and do their business in the very attractive public toilets down the road.

This blog seems to have allowed me to let off a bit of steam, which I’ve been needing. As a sign off on this one, I did have a confrontation with a customer about the price of a bar of chocolate the other week. It wasn’t my fault he had forgotten his glasses, picked up the most convenient and expensive bar in the shop, and then thrown it back at my team member in disgust, muttering. I asked him if there was a problem, he grumbled at me.

I was so annoyed at him, I went to find him. A motorcyclist. The first thing I did was apologise for being a bit snappy with him and said I wanted to explain to him the reason the bar of chocolate he selected was £3.99. He wouldn’t let me talk, so the lovely lady standing next to him, placed a hand on his arm and told him to shut up and let me explain. The £3.99 (greetings) bar SHOULD be £4.99 according to Cadbury. We refused to price them at that. He moaned that he couldn’t see any chocolate. (Clearly he had missed the aisle on his way through that is a wall of chocolate bars and also the shelves in front of the till that, funnily enough, contain chocolate.) He then went on to say how expensive we were and what a rip off… yadda yadda yadda. “I can get things cheaper in other places,” I’m sure he can. I asked if he had used our toilets. “Of course I did,” came his reply. I indicated to the (literally) hundreds of people milling about and said, “Well, see all these people here? All these people have also used our toilets. So, the next time you want to complain about our prices, please take the time to think about all the heat, light, electricity, water, toilet roll, hand soap and also the free santiser that we provide that are all free to you. Not to me. And, don’t forget other overheads and business rates that we pay too.” He was stuck for words. The lady beside him gaffawed. She walked back towards the shop with me. She said, “That’s why I divorced him. He’s always an arse. He has ‘angry wee man syndrome’ and it doesn’t help he forgot his glasses, he’s as blind as a bat!” I like her. She came into the shop, laughed when she saw the piles of chocolate, used the loo, bought a bottle of water and two bars of (reasonably priced) chocolate. One for her and one for Mr Short-sighted angry wee man.

Funny stories to follow… I promise. Well done if you got to here!

5 comments on “Face Masks and Carrots”

  1. Lorna says:

    Well done for getting through “that year!” All the best going forward. You & your team do a grand job. Hope we see you sometime soon! xx

  2. Kenny & Fiona Wilson says:

    oh how we have missed these ranting ..s erm I mean Blogs. LOL x

  3. JANICE says:

    love your blogs Fi, always make me laugh, thank you

  4. GAW says:

    Question — if a customer came into thefilling station, and you hadn’t noticed that he had filled up at a pump, but not having a mask, you said sorry no mask no entry. Would he be committing an offence if he then drove off? Asking for a friend,

  5. Fiona says:

    I’d firstly be asking them to put on a mask. If they didn’t have one, I’d sell them one! Behind the counter, we have to really pay very close attention to the forecourt, however, it still doesn’t stop some wallies forgetting they have fuel or driving away. The latter is a pain; we have to contact the DVLA to get their details so we can get our money back. There’s normally at least one per week!

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