Violence at the Gas-pump

a true story

The man held out the knife just as Dad left the gas station market.  His hands filled with a bag of pistachios and a sugar-free iced tea — one of those wonderfully bitter varieties that refuses to overwhelm the taste buds with fructose and lemon extract.  His hands fumbled with the car keys in his pocket, when the kid strode up behind him fingering a small pen-knife.

"Gimme all your cash, man."

"Gimme all your cash, man."

“Gimme all your cash, man!  Out with it now!”

Dad turned around while the woman beside him jumped hurriedly in her car.  Dad’s eyes flit to the small pen-knife, while he cracks open a shelled nut, popping one into his mouth.  The sound of electronic locks sound behind him.

“You gotta be kidding me,” Dad sighed.  The boy nervously turns the knife.

“Now, man.  All your cash.  Or else.”

“Son, ” Dad says staring hard at the boy.  “Hell no.  You try and do anything and I’ll shove that tiny blade so far up your ass that you’ll be shittin’ dimes into next year.”

The boy does not seem quite sure what to do at this point.  He puts away the knife and shuffles away.

“Jesus mister, you don’t have to be so violent.”


“What happened then, Dad?”  Katie asks in the kitchen few hours later.  Tears stream down her face from the laughter.  Sean is nearly rolling on the floor.

“I got in my car,” Dad shrugged, “and drove to campus to pick up the boys.”

Mom can only shake her head:  pride, worry, and astonishment mingle together among her smiles and laughter.

“It’s a shame though,” he sighed.  “If he would have only asked for a few bucks, I probably would have given it to him.  Looking at the size of that knife, I almost felt sorry for him . . .”

Dial a Doctor: The Finale

I have been asked if Nancy the doctor/nurse ever got in touch with Dad.  The answer remains shrouded in mystery as Dad eventually talked to someone at the hospital, but cannot remember whom.  Considering that she called twice at the house and Dad’s surgery has come and gone, I will assume that she has descended on other patients now.  Yet still, not satisfied with an incomplete story, I offer you the following suggestion of the events pertaining to the morning of April 26th:

“Mike, you have a telephone call on line one,” Dad’s secretary buzzed over the intercom. “A nurse or doctor from the hospital concerning Monday’s surgery. Hurry, she sounds impatient.”

Dad pealed his eyes from the conference table, where blueprints lay unfolded like a buccaneer’s treasure map. Terri sounded worried . . . no scared. Terri who dealt daily with men the size of Mack trucks. Terri who shrugged off the daily phone complaints and ravings of contractors, customers, and crazies. Bulldog Terri who office rumor speculated with rather inspired imagination had bitten an angry pit bull that dared to growl while crossing her path. Terri who . . . ah, but Dad had wasted enough time on analysis. The phone itself would solve this puzzle.

“Yes, how may I help you?” he spoke brusquely, a man of business whose time was counted not by dollars or cents but by percentages.

“Am I speaking to Mike, who on April 28, this Monday, will undergo surgery at the hospital?”

“Yes, I’m having a filter removed with Dr. Wein . . .”

“Sir, do you know that I called twice before now?” The voice sounded accusatory now, like a television cop or the school principal who finally catches Ferris Bueller skipping school.

“Uh, yes ma’am, I do,” Dad said, somewhat taken aback. “I talked to Karen at the hospital earlier and she told . . .”

“Sir, Karen is a cow. She should have directed you to me, to Nancy. But due to mass incompetence, we must have this conversation today. Merely hours before your operation.”

“Um, ma’am the operation is Monday. A day and half away . . .”

“Do not take any prescription drugs twelve hours before the operation . . .” Her voice drills into Dad’s ear with a list of instructions both dietary and practical. After some time, he tries – in vain – to halt her soliloquy.

“Yes, I heard all this from Karen, ma’am.”

“Karen does not have the proper information. Now do you know that as a diabetic, you should not . . .”

“Eat or drink anything twelve hours before the operation. Go to bed early and be ready to remain home from the rest of the day due to the local anesthesia. Yes, we’ve been over this before ma’am.”

“Also do not take aspirin either . . .”

“I do not take aspirin. My doctor has forbidden me to use it, something about the diabetes . . .”

“Good, but I had to mention it.” Again her words cut through Dad’s normally charming dialogue, like a goat crushing old tin cans. “Hospital policy and all. Heaven knows how many idiots breed in this world. My job ironically is to make them better, healthy, and whole so they can continue breeding. How asinine is that, I ask you?”

“Um . . . are we done here?”

“Yes,” she sighs, mumbling something which Dad cannot hear, but which sounded faintly like “stupid breeders.” He nonetheless decides on courtesy, issues a polite goodbye before returning to his prints. Nancy, true to form, desires no such chivalry.

“Well, hon, thank you for calling. Have a great . . .”


“ . . . day.”