Tag Archives: Gas station

Lost and Found Superhero

If I were to design a superhero, I wouldn’t create a Man of Steel or Woman in spandex. No power bracelets or magic rings. My superhero wouldn’t need a gas-guzzling super-car that always breaks the speed limit but never is issued even a warning.

Instead, I’d invent a superhero who finds things.

No computers or radar allowed. I want a superhero with an inborn, omniscient talent for zipping up black holes before they suck in all left socks, kids’ Spam Museum permission slips, and pens that write.

My superhero need not leap tall buildings in a single bound. I just want her to find fat-free mayo on sale. Minty breath mints. And Seductive Salmon.

Not an amorous fish. I want the lipstick. The moment I deem one my favorite, cosmetic gurus shriek, “Rachael Phillips likes it! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” My marketing kiss of death sends Seductive Salmon posthaste to a black hole.

Where our keys also reside. They disappear, especially when I was due somewhere 20 minutes ago. I find the keys to our first apartment and those to old cars we maintained when our children still (theoretically) lived at home. But current car keys? They vanished upon our signing the purchase agreement. I eventually find them — often in the freezer, beside my frosted-over cell phone. Still, both continually play truant.

As do gas stations. When driving to catch a predawn flight, I inevitably discover my gas gauge points below E. At this signal, all stations at all freeway exits disguise themselves as bait shops.

Please do not tell me to trust a GPS. Once, when I traveled with writers so hungry we gnawed our books, one of those cruel, lady-voiced demons sent us to five different boarded-up restaurants.

I might consider a super-GPS that could locate tax receipts. Correction: the right tax receipts. I readily unearth one that records I ate a Belly Burger in Yazoo City, Mississippi, in 1999. But has anyone seen my 2020 W-2?

I also should program my superhero to lose things for me.

For example, my champion would swallow hated lyrics and toxic tunes that imprint themselves on my mental hard drive.

However, my superhero wouldn’t swallow pizza, strawberry-rhubarb pie, or moose tracks sundaes. That’s my job. Hers: banish the calories.

She’d deliver me from public restroom stalls with empty toilet paper spools and broken locks. My superhero would absorb the fines for library books I checked out during the first Bush administration. She’d scare away dandelions and crabgrass.

Oh, Lost and Found Superhero, please be real! I’ll give you a big, gas-guzzling superhero car.

But you will have to find the keys.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you need a Lost and Found Superhero?

The GPS and Me

For years, drivers depended on many sources to guide them safely to destinations. They obtained free gas station maps, flappy guides destined never to fold into neat little rectangles again. Drivers asked guys at the pumps for directions, trusting honest faces and hard-working, dirty-nailed hands to point them the right direction. Or they stopped total strangers who had lived so long in a town, they forgot the names of the streets.

By default, they endured backseat drivers who dispensed a continual stream of advice.

Today’s drivers aren’t content with these tried-and-true resources that cost them nothing but their sanity. Instead, they pay for a Global Positioning System, or GPS — and regard it as God’s Positioning System.

Once, I traveled with a friend who depends on Lavinia, her GPS, for road directions, restaurant locations and tax advice. Like most of her species, Lavinia spoke with a civilized British accent. However, she appeared bipolar. Although 26 lanes of semitrailers blocked our path to an off-ramp, she repeated “Exit!” until we climbed over them.

She often insisted we turn onto airport runways. Occasionally, we encountered a road that in Lavinia’s mind did not exist, resulting in a panicked chorus of “recalculating … recalculating … recalculating!” accompanied by fits of screaming. Not unlike me the week before Christmas.

I offered Lavinia my estrogen, but she refused.

If only she possessed a more pleasant personality. I, like other directionally challenged people, might prefer a Mr. Rogers GPS.

MR. ROGERS: It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood! I like you just the way you are.

ME: Thanks, Mr. Rogers. Can you help me find the BMV?

MR. ROGERS: That’s a tough one. But you can do anything, if you set your mind to it. Let’s turn right. Can you show me your right hand?”

ME: (raising both) I’m not sure.

MR. ROGERS: Can you count the number of smashed cars?

ME: No, but I can count the cars with flashing lights: one, two, three. …

MR. ROGERS: You’re so special.

Like other low-techies, I wonder if current generations soon won’t be able to find their bathrooms without a GPS. Do we ever stop to think global positioning systems find their locations per satellites — which line up their calculations with millions-of-light-years-away quasars and giant black holes?

Sorry, Lavinia. I know you have the best intentions in the universe.

But I can find black holes all by myself.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Would you rather ask directions or depend on a GPS?

What Kind of Store?

Have you noticed lately that businesses are teaming up to lower costs?

Image by RobynsWorld from Pixabay.

If you’ve driven interstates, you’ve probably taken breaks at truck stops that combine gas stations, convenience stores, and fast-food restaurants. Highly visible, their diversity serves tired travelers who want to find only one exit — and parking spot.

Other restaurants also have joined forces. For a while, I could sky my cholesterol at either a building’s fried chicken half or taco section.

Recently, though, that trend has waned. Perhaps, employees were exchanging secret recipes. Or maybe, desiring job security, they started to mug customers, dragging them to their side.

Businesses offering contrasting services seem to post success rates. Scorning the logic of bookstore-coffee shop and doctor’s office-pharmacy combinations, they often appear in small towns. I’ve patronized a computer-tractor sales store, which New Yorkers might find … unusual. Also, a car repair garage that sold used furniture. I’ve drunk lattes brewed at a hardware store.

Occasionally, even we small-town types blink at business combos. Hubby, wanting his coat cleaned, found himself staring at a store window’s sandy beach scene. The tanning salon also served as a dry cleaner’s drop-off.

Image by MustangJoe from Pixabay.

When my mother visited our small town, I had to explain why I’d driven her to the laundromat to buy a Greyhound ticket.

Having pastored in an isolated Oregon town (population 37), Mom shouldn’t have found that strange. The solitary business there served as combination restaurant, bar, gas station, post office and bank. My parents probably were the only missionaries their supporters knew who cashed checks at the Dry Gulch Saloon.

Our son and his family have followed a similar unique path, attending Sunday morning services where a boxing club, GED classes, pickleball courts and a girls’ Roller Derby team are housed. I never before had praised God in sight of a boxing ring, but Jesus, with His grassroots approach, might not have found that odd.

I wonder why certain combination stores haven’t yet appeared. Take, for example, a car repair garage-nail salon. Supplied with massage chairs and earphones to soften clanky garage noises, female customers would never ask, “Is my car ready yet?”

Instead, they’d pay for an engine rebuild. (Anything to avoid fixing supper.)

A combination electronics store-spa would please both genders. With men free to stare at screens and evaluate gadgets and women free to relax without doing either, store owners would make big profits.

Some parents suggest a combination birthday palace-psychological clinic, with discount therapy coupons for moms and dads.

However, we don’t want to see some business combinations, such as a tax accountant-bond service outfit. A fast-food-bait store. An airport with its own funeral home.

Saving money on overhead is great. I’m all about cooperation and mutual support.

Sometimes, though, wouldn’t going it alone be better?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What odd business combinations have you seen?