Lessons learned from hanging out at the gas station


I’m definitely a country girl at heart.

For example: during university, I used to hang out at the gas station.

Now this wasn’t a random gas station. My cousin worked there. And his wife worked next door. And the gas station was run by a woman with a BA in English.

While Acadia University is a great university, there are (unfortunately) no random coffee klatches of intellectuals discussing at lunch. Otherwise, I would have hunkered down to absorb the conversation or open my mouth and remove all doubt that I was not as bright as they were on the topic of existentialism.

Instead, the food at the university was expensive and ho-hum (thank God for the coffee though, or I might have slept through most of my degree), so I would head to “downtown” Wolfville for real food. This would consist of either Subway, Tim Horton’s, or the Pita House.

Normally, the Pita House won because the salad dressings there are made from scratch—and cloves upon cloves of garlic. Each pita contains REAL chicken, not the chewed-up-and-compressed-into-breast-like-shapes kind of chicken available at most fast food restaurants.

Pita in hand, I would head down to the Petro Can to hang out.

Because I grew up around toxic industrial smells, I didn’t mind eating my lunch amid the perfume of gasoline and motor oil.

And, of course, there was always lots to talk about. I think I was an eighty-year-old man in a previous life.

Speaking of which, has anyone got any Old Chum?

Needless to say, the country girl that I am, I relished spending time at the gas station, where I learned many life lessons that probably could not be taught at the university up the street:

  1. Even if a Visitor’s Information building sits across the street, people will come into the gas station for directions.
  2. People will buy overpriced pop and chips because it’s convenient to get these things when you buy gas.
  3. Taxi drivers will use the windshield cleaner stations to wash their cabs.
  4. They will also stink up the washroom.
  5. Motorists will drive 10 minutes to save $0.03 a litre on gas, ignoring the fact they will burn more than that getting there.
  6. University students who hang out at the gas station will buy expensive chocolate bars after eating their lunch from the Pita House.
  7. Some people know NOTHING about cars. But pretend they do. Like me.
  8. If you don’t wear underwear underneath your skirt, don’t spread your legs while your gas jockey is cleaning your windshield.
  9. Even professors buy gas.
  10. Customers will sit at the pumps even though the CLOSED sign is out, the lights are turned off, and no one comes out to pump their gas.

Sometimes in life, you learn things wherever you go.

Maybe I could have saved myself $8,500 a year in tuition by just hanging out at the gas station.

Since then, the old Petro Can has disappeared from “downtown” Wolfville. The old building needed to be exorcised of all the old gas and toxins replaced so it was levelled.

Now you DO have to drive 10 minutes to pay $0.03 less for gas.

This picture dates from 1940.
Back in the day, I think Wolfville had 2 or 3 gas stations; now it has none.
The paparazzi nabbed me going to the Petro Can one day. You can see Old Blue in the background. My cousin looks like he’s working hard.
I bought a lot of gas here. Well, as much as you can buy for a Ford Tempo.
Expensive chocolate bars. Mmmm. Chocolate.
I miss the smells of toxins at lunch.
Sometimes not much was happening in ol’ Wolfville.
No sign of the scabby cabbies!
I can barely remember gas being this “cheap” …
An awesome cousin checking the tire pressure on Old Blue. I wonder if this was the time I was driving around with a tire at 10 psi …

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Deb says:

    I think you’ve covered it all Julie…thx for the reading….

  2. David Best says:

    Great post, Julie! I really enjoyed reading it. You’re a great writer! Keep it up!
    By the way, that car, “old blue”- was that Kevin’s? If it was, it was mine first, and her name was Ruby -I’ll let you guess why…

    1. Julie says:

      Hi Dave! Thanks for reading! Actually, Ruby became bright yellow shortly before Mom got Old Blue—which I inherited when she bought a car called Ruby, not your car 😉 And Ruby was a pretty wine colour. The old Tempos were pretty good cars though mine leaked before I had to retire it. I now drive a car called Scarlett which happens to be a little two door, but a Pontiac 🙂

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