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HUMOROUS FICTION

Make That An Ounce Of Gas

Peter Piston was driving to work when he realized that he was almost out of gas.

It was payday and, since he lived from paycheck to paycheck, he was also out of cash. His credit cards were also burned, partly thanks to price of gasoline, which was now at about $4 a gallon.

He had no choice but to pull into the gas station where he usually filled up and ask for a favor.

Just as he drove up alongside the pump, his gas-hungry SUV sputtered to a stop. He was totally empty.

He got out of his car and, for the first time, he actually went inside the establishment, instead of just pumping and running.

“Hi, there,” he said to the man behind the counter, who happened to be the usual hardworking immigrant from India or Pakistan. “How are you today?”

“Fine, thank you,” the man in blue replied, and held out his hand. “How much?”

“Actually, I’d like to fill ‘er up.”

“Cash or charge?”

“Either one,” Piston said, “but I need to ask you a favor.”

“What is that?”

“Can I have the gasoline now and pay you tomorrow?” Then to justify the request for charity and establish his trustworthiness, he added, “I buy gas here all the time.”

“Oh,” the attendant replied, “What do you mean?”

“Well, today is payday. When I put my check in the bank, it will clear overnight. So I’ll have plenty of money tomorrow.”

“No money now?”

“Not right now.”

He held out his hand again. “Credit card?”

“Can’t right now,” Peter admitted.

“I’m sorry,” the attendant told him, taking a payment from another gasoline purchaser, and telling the lucky driver, “Thank you.” Then, without looking up, he went on, “No money today, no gasoline today.”

“But I need it to get to work,” Piston told him, “so I can get my paycheck.”

“Sorry, I cannot let you pump gas free. I would lose my job.”

“What if I don’t fill it up? My job isn’t that far from here.”

“Sorry, I can’t help you,” the hard worker said, taking another sixty from a second really lucky driver.

“It’s not like I’m asking for a whole tank of gas,” Peter pressed. “How about just a gallon?”

“You have to pay,” the attendant told him.

“Oh, come on,” Peter cajoled. “How about spotting me a quart?”

“What’s a quart?”

Piston pointed to the dairy case. “Like a quart of milk.”

“The pump only pumps gallons,” the cashier told him.

“But it’s simple math,” Peter informed him. “Let’s say a gallon costs $4. There are four quarts in a gallon. So all I need is a dollar’s worth.”

“I can’t do that. I’m not the owner.”

“Oh,” Peter sighed. “But you must be able to let me have some. How about a pint?” he pointed to the dairy case again. “Like the half and half.”

“Sorry, mister,” the man replied. “I told you, no money, no gas. Try down the street.”

“I can’t. I ran out of gas when I pulled in here.”

“You’re out of gas?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Then you have to push your car out of the way. You’re blocking the pumps.”

Just then Peter realized how to get his way. “I’m not going to push that SUV. It’s way too big.”

“You have to. You can’t stay there.”

“I’ll tell you what. Let me have just one tiny ounce of gasoline, and I’ll drive it out of the way.”

“How much is an ounce?”

Peter was at a loss. There was nothing in the dairy case that was just one ounce. “One second,” he said, and hurried to the soft-drink case. He returned with a can of Diet Pepsi. “See this can? There are twelve ounces in it.” Then pointing to what seemed to him to be about one-twelfth of the can, he said, “About this much.”

The Indian or Pakistani man eyed the can. Peter was confident he could do the math. After all, weren’t people from India and Pakistan generally adept at math and science.

“I’ll tell you what,” the man said, reaching into his pocket. “I will put one dollar of my own in the cash register. Tomorrow you promise to pay me two dollars.”

“You got it,” Peter replied. “Thanks.”

Thinking that 100% interest for a one-day loan was pretty high, Peter was too grateful to argue. So out he went to pump, not just an ounce, but an entire quart of gasoline, now priced with interest, he calculated, at $2, or $8 a gallon.

By Tom Attea

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