You arrive at the pump island station in your truck or SUV and notice a strange red light on the terminal. You pull up and ask the attendant, “What’s going on here?”
He answers, “There’s no gas left in the state. We’re out of order thanks to those pesky Drunks.”
“What do you mean there’s no gas? I paid for what I thought was full! Why doesn’t another car come up and fill it up?”
He replies, “We’re out of order thanks to those pesky Drunks who are sabotaging the station. They’re not paying for their gas, so they’re causing as much trouble as they can.””How much gas is in my tank?” you ask.
“It says here, ‘Good to go’. Why don’t you give it a try and see?”
You turn the key, but the engine won’t start. You ask again, “Why doesn’t this thing start? Is there something wrong with it?”
He replies, “It must be due to those Drunks who stopped by earlier and drained all the gas out of it. Unfortunately, some of our machines were damaged in the process.”
“What do you mean the Drunks damaged your gas station?” you ask, confused.
“Yes, they came in here and purposefully broke a few of our most vital machines. Now we have to repair them, and it’ll take us a while to get all of them back in action. In the meantime, there’s no gas coming out of this station.”
“What do you mean broke a few of your machines? Who are these Drunks you’re talking about?”
He answers, “It’s a long story. These Drunks are notorious for causing trouble at gas stations. They even sabotaged one earlier this year. It was a mess, and we had to call the police because the guy was threatening to hurt someone. We’ve had some pretty serious incidents with these Drunks around here. They’re usually up to no good, and they always seem to enjoy causing trouble. We don’t know what they’re up to this time, but we have a feeling it’ll be pretty crazy.”
Is This Legal?
You ask, “Is this legal? I mean, can the gas company just stop delivering fuel to random stations? I mean, if I’m paying for my gas and this isn’t even my station, can they just stop delivering it?”
He answers, “It’s against the law to withhold fuel from a paying customer, but I suppose it’s legal if they’re causing trouble at other stations. We deliver fuel to over ten thousand stations across the country. We have to maintain a presence at every one of them or else we risk being in violation of the law. It’s a cumbersome process, but one that has to be followed. Otherwise, companies like us could be banned from operating in certain areas.”
You reply, “Banned from operating? I thought you guys were supposed to be the good guys, helping people out.”
He laughs and points out that it’s not just fuel that gets shut off when there’s no gas, it’s the entire station. The pumps are locked up, the bathrooms are locked up, and even the snack bar is closed when there’s no gas. It’s like they want to make sure everyone in the area is cut off from receiving any services. In some cases, they’ve done it for weeks at a time due to some sort of sabotage or criminal activity.
You ask, “Has this ever happened to you before?”
“Many times. It’s almost a routine occurrence. It’s like they know exactly what they’re doing and how to keep us from fixing the problem. It’s ridiculous how they can get away with this, but we have to follow all the prescribed steps or else we could face heavy penalties.””What if they run out of gas and don’t have any more to give? Will they kick everyone out of the cars and leave them there?” you ask.
He answers, “Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. It depends on a lot of factors. They might call the cops and have them evicted, or they might send out a maintenance person to fix the problem. We really don’t know what will happen in these situations because it’s not something we’ve ever had to deal with before.”
You reply, “How do you deal with this? I mean, what if there are no cops around or if the cops aren’t helping out? Do you guys just call an electrician to turn on the gas or what? “
He answers, “It’s not that simple. It takes a while to turn on the gas once the electrician gets here, and by that time, the Drunks might have broken down the bathroom or the snack bar or threatened someone with a weapon. This is why we need the police around here when they show up, and it’s also why we try to keep a good relationship with the community. We don’t want to see our gas stations turned into gun fights either.””It’s just not fair to the rest of us who are trying to get gas around here when all these other stations are getting their fuel delivered. It doesn’t make any sense.””You’re absolutely right. It isn’t fair to you or the other customers either. We all depend on gas to get to work, and we need it for our vehicles. I imagine that everyone feels the same way. This is why we need to do everything we can to keep our gas stations operational. Some of the customers around here are getting a little tired of all the trouble. The majority of them have been great and helped us out whenever they could, but there are some who want us to just pull the station down, and we’re beginning to wonder if maybe they’re right.””We’ve been trying to have more police around here, but it’s not easy. It takes a lot of legwork to get the word out there and make sure they know we’re a friendly station in need of help. We don’t want to be seen as the bad guys, and we don’t want our legal status to be questioned either. It’s not that we’re trying to hide anything from the police, but we don’t want to make waves either. This is a tough one to balance.””What do you guys do when you run out of gas and need someone to come and help?” you ask.
He replies, “The most common thing is for the customers to call the cops and have them come and evict the Drunks. Sometimes that works, and sometimes the Drunks break into the bathrooms and steal all the toilet paper. It’s really not something we look forward to dealing with, but it happens more often than you’d think. If you want gas, go to another station, but if you’re in this sort of predicament, it might be smarter to wait until the cops show up. At least then you’ll be among friends.”
You ask, “What happens if the cops don’t show up when you run out of gas?”
“Then we’re in a bit of a pickle. We have to break into the bathroom or the snack bar or find some other way to get it delivered. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy because we don’t always have someone around who knows how to work the pumps or the bathrooms, and it’s dangerous to break into those rooms when you don’t know what’s inside. There are a lot of hidden cameras around, and it’s not that we’re looking for trouble or trying to catch anyone, but it’s tough to know what could happen if you’re caught inside. Also, when you’re inside those rooms, it’s easier for the Drunks to come in and shoot you up. It’s not something we want to do, but we have no choice when they resist arrest or try to attack us.”
Are The Drunks Always This Crazy?
You ask, “Are these Drunks always this crazy? I mean, do they ever just go home and act normal?”
He answers, “No. It’s not that simple. It’s not like they wake up one day and decide they want to be weird. For the most part, they operate this way because they enjoy causing trouble. They do it to get a reaction. It’s all about THEM and what they want.”
You reply, “Is there anything I can do to help? I mean, are there any signs I can look out for or anything like that? I’d hate to see you guys get hurt.”