Here is another true story about life in Alpine, CA
In case you wonder why I collect blonde clerk stories...
One Saturday afternoon, as we were about to grill a nice steak, we ran out of propane.
I took off the tank and went to the Shell station where Crystal, a little blonde kid of about 18 or maybe 16, was waiting on the counter. It has automated pumps which did not require her human interaction with the customers except maybe to hand out the key to the bathroom.
But I had other plans for Crystal. I walked in and asked if she would fill up my propane tank.
"Did you bring your little thingee?" she asked.
"Yup, I got my little thingee out in the truck," I said. (She wasn't going to trip me up with that one.)
"Well, you need to wait until my manager gets back. He's at lunch." she said in delay tactic #2.
"I'm really afraid of those thingees."
"When did he go to lunch?" I asked.
"Before it was lunch time," she said.
"And now is it still lunch time?" I said, using my best blonde logic.
"No, and here he comes," she said.
Turns out that her manager, Ricardo, wasn't much older than Crystal and was about as useless. He did manage to get a guy from the adjoining car wash and he filled my 5-gallon tank.
The sign said that propane was $3.98 a gallon.
When I went back to the counter, Crystal said Ricardo was the only one who could ring up Propane.
I didn't ask why.
I knew why.
Well, I thought I knew why...
"That will be $54.20," Ricardo said.
I may not be the brightest star in the sky, but I'm pretty sure that 5 gallons times $4 can only be about $20.
"It can't be much more than $20," I said.
"Well there's tax," he said.
"Where's the car wash guy?" I asked and had him go find the guy. Gumisendo confirmed that, indeed, $4 X 5 gallons was $20 and went back to work.
I finally got back in my truck to leave and found out that Old Alpine Days was going on and included a parade that closed the Main Street for a half hour. I stood there in the Shell driveway watching the horses defecate on the street and looked down at the person next to me. It was Crystal. There was a Shell Station full of people behind her because they were also stuck. But there was no clerk, she was out watching the parade.
"Crystal," I said. "Where's Ricardo."
"Oh, he went on his break," she said.
I finally waited out the parade and went home. My lovely wife, who has a propensity for stating the obvious, was waiting by the grill the steak in hand.
"How long can it possibly take to fill one little propane tank?" she asked. Obviously...
it was a rhetorical question.
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