Filling Station Tales
At the start of lockdown, I was lucky enough to have a bit of study time for my next coaching qualification. 3 essays down and much frustration, it was time to go back to work. The further 20+ essays will have to wait! I quite enjoyed being chief cook and bottle washer for a few weeks.
We had a wee team of Alison, Colin and Susan who, between them were running both the Filling Station and Internet sales 7 days a week, however, it got to the stage that they needed an extra pair of hands. So, on with the uniform, comfy shoes and into the Filling Station.
Things were pretty quiet, up until Nicola Sturgeon announced that people were allowed to go 5 miles from home. Who knew just how many motorcyclists there were in this area!! Mobbed covers it. What made it even busier was stunning weather.
There were a few knobs in the Filling Station though. Some were just plain rude, others had obviously left their brains at home. The carnage down the road at the Falls of Falloch was bonkers. About 80 cars parked on the main road had HGV drivers raging! By the time they got to Tyndrum they were ready to vent. The HGV drivers kept our business going during lockdown and I had an opportunity to get to know so many of them. They’re bonkers in a good way. Thanks, lads.
In the meantime, there were issues with the unleaded pumps. Out of 8 possible hoses, we had 2 working. Not good. It took 3 ½ weeks to sort out, and I have to say, it was just as well that the main business was closed. My hair would be even greyer and I probably would have pulled it all out. That first busy weekend of the motorcyclists descending upon us, we were trying to survive on just 2 hoses. Closing at 5pm, was a blessed relief and so was the bottle of cider that we consumed outside the back door that we all certainly deserved!
Whilst out priming the pumps – that translates to – giving them a look and a kick and crossing my fingers. An Audi TT pulls up and the driver says, “Fill it up, hen.” I asked if he was being serious, so when he said he was, I did exactly that. Pump primed.
There were wild campers. Lots of them. I had one lad who asked, “Where can we go wild camping?” “Nowhere,” I answered. “No, hen, where can we go wild camping around HERE?” “Nowhere, go home!”
My stock ‘goodbye’ to folk was, “stay safe” That worked really well, mostly. Until one Friday afternoon, a young lass came in and bought some condoms. I said my “Stay safe”. Oh. I guess she was!
Two young lads came in and bought a couple of packs of cigarettes and some king size Rizlas. The first lad walks out the door and shouts back to his mate, “Hey, I wonder what you’re going to do with them!” It gave us a much needed belly laugh. I did ask where they were going so I could join them later on…
Some customers just got what they deserved. Again, during the really hot spell when everybody had obviously just had enough of being locked up, escaped. Especially the loonies. Now, there’s things that just fall out my mouth sometimes… This family came to the till and they had Glasgow accents. One had a pot of noodles and I said to her that I needed to scan it. “Gonnae no touch the stirrer!” She whined. I looked her straight in the eye, drew an imaginary circle round my face and said, “Does this look like stupid?” I was intrigued how she was going to eat her noodles with a wooden stirrer. I’m damned if she was getting a fork from me.
“Is Barry ootside?” Said a woman. “Who’s Barry?” I asked, “Ma man.”
Who the f@ck is Barry?
A few hardy cyclists were up, however, I had to draw the line when one wheeled his bike on its rear wheel through the filling station.
There was another dim woman in. I directed her towards the hand sanitiser and she refused to use it. She held up her hands, as if in prayer, and said, “I’m not going to touch anything!” She went through the (long) one way system and on her way to the till picks up crisps, pours coffee (adds milk), a pie, unwraps the pie and pops it in the microwave to heat it up. Amazing. All done without touching anything. I said that to her.
Some so desperate for freedom left Glasgow to picnic at the heaving busy Falls of Falloch. Who leaves Glasgow with not enough fuel to get them back to Dumbarton? The number of calls we had from the Falls was crazy!
Then there was another family from that big city just south of us. They had a young lad and he had selected a Time Out bar and a tub of ice cream. The family paid and left and I watched the little hand appear through the back window of the (expensive) Mercedes and the wrapper of the Time Out landing on the forecourt. Once again my gob took over, luckily it was quiet in the shop, however, one or two people heard me saying, “The wee b@stard!” I shot out the door and went over to the car and shook the wrapper in the lads face, giving him and the parents a well-deserved talking to. They claimed it wasn’t him, however, soon shut up when I said I’d just watched him AND it was on CCTV. Imagine my delight when I turned around and realised that he had dropped the ice cream lids on the ground beside the bin. They’d driven off by then. I was disappointed. I’d love to have seen the sticky lid landing in their nice Mercedes.
3 lads recently came in. Not one mask between them. “No masks today, lads?”
“Don’t need one,” they claimed.
“I’ve got asthma,” says one.
Then the 4th lad in the group appeared.
“No mask today?”
“I don’t have COVID. I don’t have to wear one. I won’t catch it either,” and other bull$hit. There’s no answer to stupidity, is there?
So, instead of saying, “stay safe” I chose a different approach and said, “Have a good weekend and make sure no-one coughs in your face!” He stomps out the door and shouts, “BITCH!” The look on the faces of the other customers was hilarious. They did a lot of eye-rolling when I told them why he was calling me names. It’s the only abuse that we’ve had, which is lucky.
A guy was parked at pump 6. He walks around to pump 5 and pulls out the unleaded nozzle. I’m standing watching this as his mate pisses himself laughing, pointing to the one nearest his car. He votes.
Nichola, doing her job very well, asks a customer if she has any fuel. We have to ask, all the time. Mind you, if someone is carrying a 50l rucksack, there’s a bit of a clue that they might not need petrol… So, she asked this woman if she had fuel. She laughed. Nichola asked again, and the woman laughed again said, “We haven’t seen a fuel station for miles!” At that, Nichola pointed out the window. She has a driver’s licence?
We’ve been keeping coffee cup lids behind the counter, to prevent grubby hands all over them. A woman complained and said that she was going to spill her coffee. In fairness, she was using a crutch. I made a point of saying, “So sorry, Madam. In 3 months of lockdown we’ve not had any issues. Had I realised you were needing some help, I would have been delighted to carry your coffee for you!” Only to make a point to her husband who was walking beside her.
There’s a 6” x 6” sign on the coffee machine advising customers that the lids are at the counter.
“Where are the lids?” A woman asks.
I pointed to the sign and told her they were behind the counter. She proceeded to grope the sign, as if a lid was going to magically appear.
Jonny the shepherd is a regular. He was off on holiday. He bought his groceries and a week later, I was walking towards the Filling Station. I did a double-take. It was Jonny, he’d shaved his hair off. My automatic comment was, “Jonny, I didn’t know you had such big ears!” Luckily he laughed.. Then, he came into the Filling Station and bought…. A BRUSH and a COMB! I fell about laughing and in fairness, so did he. They were for is dog! Jonny did have the tendancy to pop things into his shopping bag before they were scanned. This had happened quite a bit. So, it fell out my mouth, “FFS, Jonny, this isn’t ALDI you know! I’m not that quick!”
So, how did Ed and I keep sane? We slapped the panniers on the bikes and went shopping on a Sunday to Oban. Via Lochgilphead. Our fridge has never looked so healthy. A wee stop for a pee and a coffee in Lochgilphead was required and became a bit of a routine. Until the Police had a word.
“Where are you off to?”
I pointed at Smoggy’s panniers, “Shopping to Oban.”
“Are you local?”
“Well, sort of. Tyndrum.” Says Ed
“This isn’t the direct route.”
According the Ed’s road map it is the direct route… Oh, well, the next week we went via Glencoe!
Just to finish off. I wish people would notice this… just saying.
Excellent read Fiona.