Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Last Full Service Gas Station

I've been buying gas here probably for over 25 years. It's on the corner next to the little strip of shops where Claudia had her antique shop. It used to be a Mobil station, and it's still the kind of place where you can get an oil change or a tail light bulb replaced. If it's a major repair he'll tell you whether or not he thinks he can do it. What's unique is that it's still the kind of place where they'll pump the gas for you.

You never know exactly what brand you're buying. Like many of us customers he "shops price" too and buys from the cheapest supplier. He also has a large selection of strange cigarette brands mostly from Colombia, like a lot of the shops do around North Miami. Instead of several dollars a pack they range from maybe $1.30 to $2.00.

I usually buy gas when I take Mary grocery shopping since it's conveniently located between the Publix supermarket and the Walgreens drugstore. One day a couple of years ago when I was alone he asked where "the old lady was" with a touch of concern in his voice. "Is she OK"? I assured him that she was fine and I'd spoken to her that morning. Then he wanted to know if she was my mother or perhaps my aunt. I explained that no, we weren't related in any way, but that I'd known her for over twenty-five years, and her eyesight was failing so she could no longer drive. Since she had no relatives down here (and she never had any children) I took her shopping and to the doctor. I told him that taking cabs was more than she could afford and waiting for a bus in the Florida sun (or rain) was no fun.

The next time I stopped there with Mary she wanted three packs of cigarettes and she handed him him a five dollar bill expecting a few cents change. Instead he handed her five packs. A buck a pack including 7% tax! He and his daughter and father always ask how "the old lady" is doing. When she's not with me he asks if she needs cigarettes and gives them to me for the same low price. On more than one occasion he's remarked how nice it is of me to take her shopping when we're not even related. He's pretty nice himself!

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