Upon driving home, this fair afternoon, I found myself in the position of requiring petrol for my automobile. As is my wont, I pulled into the BP that’s the first station between work and my place, drove to an open pump, stuck the nozzle in the car, pushed “Fill” and waited while listening to Alice Cooper telling someone that her lips were venomous poison. And so, of course, I was thinking about other Batman villains that Alice could have written songs about when I looked up to see the attendant staring at me from inside the station, and moving his lips.

I pulled the headphones out, in time to hear him say “..is on prepay, sir.” with the air of someone who’d said this several times already.

I went into the station and said “I just want to fill up.” and he said “It’s on prepay.” to which I said “Okay. I still want to fill up.” and that led to this conversation:

“Fill up? You need to go to Pump 5.”


“Pump 5.”

“… why?”

“Because you’re on Pump 1. It’s on prepay. They all are, except 5.”

“… why?”


“Why are they all on prepay except one? Do you only have cameras on that one, in case of a drive-off without paying? I mean .. why not have them all on prepay, or none. Or the ability to override them, if someone wants to fill up.”

“There’s cameras on all of them.”

“So … okay, never mind. I’ll just pay you $80, and fill up, and you can refund me the balance.”

“Can’t do that.”


At this point, I went back to my car and started it up. The attendant waved at me cheerfully, and pointed at pump five. I waved back equally cheerfully, and drove off to the Shell station down the road.

I pulled up to an open pump at the Shell, pressed “Fill” and filled my tank. Then I went inside to pay, and as I did so, I had the following conversation:

“Was that the only pump I could fill up at?”


“Which pumps could I have filled up at?”

“…. All… of them?” he said, with the raised eyebrows and inflection that suggests that you seem to be suggesting a problem that only exists in the mind of a nutter.

And, of course, that’s exactly what I’d done.