Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Ayuh, you can't get there from here!

Back in the late 60's I had a summer job pumping gas at 'Clark's Tank and Tummy" in Sanbornville, New Hampsha. Located at the intersection of Rte 109 and Rte 16 about 100 miles north of Boston. Now Sanbornville had no real draw for most folks. Just a convenient stop on the trip to Conway. Refill the tank and drain the unwanted and uncomfortable fluids that had built up for the last 75 miles. At this time, gas cost maybe 25 cents a gallon, and with the price the same pretty much everywhere, the only thing we had to sell was service. So, i was expected to clean the windows, offer to check the oil, water, and air. My days were busy but not very challenging. A high point would be an old 2 cycle Saab pulling in and me having to remember to ask for the oil to put in before the gas. It was a constant battle to stay engaged in the day and not lose my focus. To that end, I often played mind games with the unlucky tourist who happened to ask the right question in the wrong way.

One hot afternoon, a flashy new Caddy with Conn. plates pulled in from the north bound lane off 16. I ran out to their car anticipating a fill at the very least. Instead, the old man driving said, "No gas kid, just some directions".

This kinda put me off, cuz, well, it just did. I was no kid, I was 16 fer chrissakes. The guy was abrupt and I could tell he was not pleased. I said, "Uh, yes sir, where you headed?

He looks at me and he hesitates like he is not sure how to form the words. But he finally mutters, " We seem to have missed the turn off for Boston. "

I could not believe my luck. I had recently been hoping to act out some recently learned Yankee humor on some deserving tourist who was just asking for it. I knd of scrunched down so I could look in and get close. Next to him was an older lady way over done with the latest in suburban hair and pink highlights. Lipstick, Nails, Jeez even her shoes were pink. And she did not look happy. So I said, "Boston Huh?'" In the best yokel speak I could muster. " Hmm, seems you's off track a tad".

He says, "I don't need a lecture, just get me going in the right direction"

Well, this just reinforced my desire to really play this guy hard, so I broke the news to him bluntly. I said, " Well sir, Boston's bout 100 miles from here as the Crow flies"

His wife/girlfriend interrupts, "See, I told you we passed it"

I could hardly keep a straight face, but somehow I managed it and continued like I hadn't heard her. "Heading back the way you came might work, and it might not." He looks at me like I was crazy, but before he has a chance to digest what I said, I looked up rte 16 and said, "Well you could head up 16 bout 10 miles and take a left, uh, no, that won't work."

I stood up straighter and turned towards Rte 109 going towards Maine. I looked intent like I was contemplating this option and started, " Head down 109 , no, no, that will just get you more confused. That way takes you into Maine and the roads in Maine are terrible and go no where anyway."

I then turned the other way, and said, " I have it now, just head out this road here. Bout 2 miles, there's a white barn on the right. Take the next left, the next right and then straight for 20 miles until you get to 25. Damn! That won't work either"

By this time, I could tell the guy was really getting peeved. "Do you have any idea of how to get back to Boston," he asks.

I looked him in the eye and said, "Well sir, it sure seems you are in a pickle I guess. You can't get there from here". And I walked back into the station leaving him and his wife to figure out how they went right by a city of 500,000 and drove another 3 hours before they decided to find out where they were.

He peeled out headed north. About 15 minutes later, I spotted him driving south. That was the last I saw of him.

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