He was scurrying back and forth, forth and back, from one gas pump to another. Four, five, six, then seven, then eight, eight cars wanted refueling, oil checking, tire pressure, window washing and one young man, Albert, was doing the scurrying between them.
His co-worker, Rick, inside, behind the register, picking his teeth, with his finger up his… wasn’t helping. He liked to watch. Got a kick out of it. Usually, there were two gas station attendants, but today the other one was an hour late due to a dentist appointment.
So Albert was trying to cover the noontime rush all by himself. He wasn’t doing too bad considering, but there was one man who wasn’t getting the attention he felt he deserved. He stood leaning against his car arms folded wearing a scowl.
There was a very attractive young woman in a car nearby him and she also looked unhappy having to wait.
The scowling man decided it was time to say something,” Hey! Do you think we can get some service over here?”
The young woman smiled at him her appreciation for his assertive taking the situation in hand approach. Albert looked at this man. He decided he had a look of an important man. A man with power, of some sort. Albert got the feeling he was about to make a career decision. Not a good one.
He addressed the scowling suit and tie, “Sure you can have some service just as soon as I finish servicing the cars on the other side then I’ll be able to get to you and give you some service.”
Not too smart of an ass, but enough to answer the question and fire one back at the suit and tie.
The important man didn’t say anything more to him but did go talk with the young woman, sharing some information about what he planned to do to this smart-mouthed little gas station attendant.
Within 48 hours Albert was looking for a new job. The man he talked back to was one of the head managers for Wardwoods department store which owned the downtown store’s gas station. This manager worked at the newer store on the North Shore. He’d come to town for a meeting and stopped for gas.
Albert was not happy with this outcome. He was also young enough not to know any better than to plan his revenge. It would have to be something worthy of a head manager of a large department store, something with a flair for the dramatic, something that would be remembered for a long time to come.
He boarded a bus heading for the North Shore with an idea, a crazy idea.
Royal Park mall, where the newer store was located, was near the beach and upscale neighborhoods. It was very stylish. Albert walked through the center mall passageway by all the smaller shops until he reached the largest, Wardwoods department store. He entered. The merchandise inside ranged from reasonably priced to more expensive designer brands. It was a well-stocked store with a reputation for excellent products.
He walked down the aisle in the men’s clothes section and saw what looked like the man at the gas station. The same man who fired him, whose name he learned of during the exit interview at personnel: Douglas Manners. Mr. Manners was leaning up against a circular coat rack chewing the fat with one of the assistant managers. He happened to glance over and saw Albert looking at him. Recognizing the smart-mouthed lad, Mr. Manners thought perhaps he’d come to apologize, beg for his job back.
Albert turned around and headed into the mall, walking a short distance he saw what he wanted: a bakery. Inside, he inquired what pies were on special. Only lemon meringue answered the baker—thick, sticky, gelatinous, and with some heft to it—perfect!
After purchasing, he returned to his prey: Mr. Manners, who’d moved his position. No longer leaning up against the coat rack, he was down the aisle a little, just standing there all by himself. Albert went up to a cosmetic counter, where a rather unaware-looking sales girl smiled at him.
Inquiring, as he pointed to Mr. Manners, “Is that Douglas Manners the head manager of this store?”
“Why yes,” she replied.
The pie box was placed on her countertop and opened. The pie was removed and deftly placed in his right hand. Her smile vanished and eyes widened. He walked over, not fast, but not slow either, to Manners who was still just standing there.
It’s funny, like in a dream when you try to do something aggressive, like running or punching and your body doesn’t seem to respond, as though you are powerless to move. Albert raised the pie to attack his victim, but he also felt the moment of aggression wasn’t easy.
The act of pushing a pie into Mr. Manner’s face was difficult since Albert was not a violent person. So the act was done with a softer more gentle motion. Adding to the reluctance of this moment was Mr. Manners himself, who upon realizing what was about to happen, turned his head slightly away from the oncoming pie. Consequently, the lemon meringue made its biggest debut not on the front of his head, the face, but on the side—right in his ear.
Manners sort of crumpled. Like he had been wounded, he slumped. After which Albert didn’t hang around to sign autographs but walked quickly away, then skipped a little, then ran right out of the store, across the street and jumped on a bus returning downtown.
It had been done. The thing he had wanted to do was done. Crazy, nutty, sophomoric, and immature, but still Albert felt a score had been settled. What he didn’t know: the score-settling was far from over.
A few days later, talking to a friend on the phone, he relayed the pie escapade.
His friend burst out laughing and said: “That was you?!”
“What do you mean?” Albert said.
“I mean there is an article about it in this morning’s Daily Providence, the headline reads: Wardwoods Man Takes It On-Ear.” said his friend.
“Really?!” Albert was amazed.
He ran out to look in the newspaper—sure enough there it was on the front page in the lower center column. The article described the gas station attendant as having a reputation for a big mouth, giving lip to customers, being fired for low job performance, and as a troublemaker.
Albert’s x-boss at the gas station was reading the newspaper clipping with his wife next to him.
He looked up and said “This isn’t true. You didn’t have a reputation for giving customers lip, you weren’t a troublemaker, and you certainly didn’t have low job performance. What are you going to do about this?”
“Nothing,” said Albert, “Since they haven’t used my name, I guess I’ll just let it go.”
The wife shook the clipping in her hand, “Imagine that, if they will print this pack of lies what else will they print?”
Her husband replied “Isn’t that what they say, don’t believe everything you read in the papers. Now I believe I can’t believe.”
Albert thanked them for their concern. He walked down the boulevard thinking what a nice little job it’d been while he took the radio broadcasting course. Now with graduation as a deejay, his plans were to begin a new career. He certainly had the mouth for it.