Real Things that Have Happened to Me at Gas Stations

By Jeffrey Hermann

Once, at a Speedway, I got a flat tire right in front of the guy who fixes flat tires. I must have run over a nail or something just before. He saw it happen and opened the garage door and I rolled it right in.

Another time, very late at night, I found a hand-written note on top of a pump. It was a set of directions for someone to follow that would take them to the writer who, the note said, would be waiting. Use the side door, it said. It won’t be locked.

One afternoon, I was the only person at this BP. A man drove up really close to my car and honked and waved. He got out and stared at me and I stared back and he said, “Oh, sorry. I’m sorry. I swear you look exactly like my godfather.” Your godfather, I thought. He couldn’t look away. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to tell him something, that it was so good to see him. That it’d been too long. That seemed like what he wanted. He said again he was sorry and he was still looking at me as he pulled away, thinking of his real godfather I suppose.

A moment later, as I was finishing with the pump, another man pulled up close to my car on the other side and rolled down his window. I did the same, thinking about godfathers and god I guess and giving someone the job of godfather, someone who would step up and be the father, god forbid. And the man in the car with the window rolled down said, so softly, “I’m just asking for some help.” There we were. I opened my wallet. I had a five and I said I can give you this. He nodded but he didn’t move. He sat looking straight ahead, just sitting in his car. It was my job there at this BP to get out of my car and walk to his and give him the five dollars, so I did.

When my daughter was 13 she had her heart broken. I picked her up from school after a terrible day. We stopped at the Speedway and I bought us frozen Cokes from the machine inside. She stopped crying long enough to drink the whole thing from a big red straw.

Then, this one time, years before these other things, my prayers came true at an Exxon and my credit card let me go over my limit. I filled the tank, a blessed man and a bandit.

Jeffrey Hermann’s poetry and prose has appeared in Okay Donkey, Heavy Feather, UCity Review, trampset, and other publications. Though less publicized, he finds his work as a father and husband to be rewarding beyond measure.

Artwork by Lesley C. Weston (Direct digital charcoal and marker drawing)

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