From the Archives – Originally posted 10/14/2010
On Friday I stopped at a different Mobil and had one of the more bizarre gas station experiences in my life.
Now, this one may not translate well, but I’m going to give it a shot anyway. I was driving down from Syracuse and went past Cortland and stopped at a Mobil station on I-81. I pulled up to one pump and on the other side there was a silver Mercedes.
After I had started pumping an elderly gentleman walked up behind me and shouted “FORTY-THREE SEVENTEEN.” At that exact moment I wasn’t sure if he was talking to me or not, but I could tell he was behind me and it seemed like he was speaking in my direction. As I tried to assess exactly what was happening he shouted again, “FORTY THREE SEVENTEEN,” and this time there was no mistaking that he was yelling at me.
I would normally be worried in a situation like this, but I knew from when I first pulled up that he was elderly and I was confident that if he touched me I could easily take him in a street fight. I didn’t really know what the rest of his crew looked like, or if they even existed, but if anyone got out of the Mercedes I was pretty sure I could take them too.
As all these thoughts are going through my mind he yells a third time, “FORTY THREE SEVENTEEN.” At this point I’m trying to recall if I ever told anyone my name was 43-17 because I have a lot of aliases, but before coming to a conclusion he shouts, “Oh, forty-three seventeen.”
He was now obviously refocused in another direction and talking to someone else, and I was pretty impressed with how dedicated he was to the number forty-three seventeen because it’s so completely random.
I was interested to see who he was talking to so I turned and he was now speaking to a very, very short girl in her gas station uniform. She then explained how he could pay inside and he was on his way into the shop. I then exchanged an uneasy laugh with the attendant before she leaned over and said, “Did he just mistake you for me? I think he’s drunk.”
I was about to agree, but I thought better of it and responded, “Drunk or old, who can tell.” We then decided that she should make the call and alert someone that he was drunk. I have no idea if she actually did call, but I’m assuming she did. Honestly, at this juncture it was pretty irrelevant if he was drunk or not, if you can’t tell the difference between a guy pumping gas into his own vehicle and a gas station employee that’s about a foot shorter and female – well, you probably shouldn’t be driving – unless you live in Texas.
Possibly the best part of this whole thing is when she explained that he told her he was trying to get to Camillus, NY and had been driving South for an hour. For anyone unfamiliar with New York state that means he pretty much started in Camillus and then drove South for an hour trying to find it.
At least he has a Mercedes.