Tag Archives: dumb people

Space Aliens

These space aliens have probably never in their whole lives been to a gas station before today.

I swear some of the people who come to the fuel center where I work must be space aliens. I constantly want to ask people if they’ve never in their whole lives been to a gas station before today. I’m not talking about 15 year old kids, either. I’m talking about grown-ass adults of middle age or older.

Many confused space aliens, (aka my customers) have no idea what pump they’ve parked at when they come to the kiosk to pay. It seems to me it’s basic gas station procedure to be able to tell the cashier what pump to authorize. I know some percentage of my customers are illiterate or don’t speak English as their first language, which accounts for some of the confusion. However, these situations don’t account for all the people who come up to my window (or make it part of the way there) then have to turn around and look for the number of their pump so they can tell it to me. Space aliens, I tell you!

How much money do you folks want to spend on gas? No idea? I figured as much.

Another thing people who seem to have never been to a gas station do is come up to my window with no idea how much money they plan to spend. Folks constantly come up, open their wallets, and start counting their money. Once they determine the amount of their funds, then they decide how much gas to buy. Don’t they realize they’re going to have to give me money in order to make their purchase? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to count the money and decide how much to spend before approaching the kiosk? Apparently space aliens don’t think that way.

Space aliens often don’t understand how our loyalty rewards work either. Folks are often mad at me when I check their reward balance and tell them they’re not getting any discount today. I shop here all the time! one man/extraterrestrial said in anger before he stomped away. I tried to explain he had to earn 100 points (which typically means spending $100, although there are ways—bringing reusable shopping bags to pack groceries in, completing surveys, buying girt cards—to bump up one’s points) to receive a reward of 10 cents off the regular price per gallon of fuel. He was gone before I could help him reach an understanding. 

Let’s go to a gas station and study human behavior.

Often customers don’t know they have to lift the pump’s nozzle before they can select the fuel grade. This is somewhat understandable because at the other gas station chain in town, prepay customers tell the cashier what grade of gasoline they want. However, even there, if one is paying at the pump, one lifts the nozzle, then hits the button for the fuel grade desired. If the procedure isn’t obvious (and believe me, it must not be) the screen on the pump gives step-by-step instructions for pumping fuel. Perhaps space aliens should up their game on reading comprehension of American English before they try to pump gas in the USA.

The strangest that-person-must-be-an-alien encounter I had at the fuel center involved an (apparent) elderly man who didn’t understand beef jerky.

There’s a big merchandiser in the middle of the fuel center. It looks like a cooler; maybe once it was a cooler, but now it holds nonperishable items. One side is all snacks: chips, nuts, cookies, crackers, popcorn, energy bars, and cereal in single serving cups. The other side holds automotive supplies (fuel injector cleaner, motor oil, windshield washer fluid, etc.); a few big bags of chips; and an array of beef jerky.

I’d been outside when the man/alien pulled in. I’d told him good morning, and he attempted to chit chat with me. (He was probably trying to study human behavior). It was early in the morning—I’d opened the fuel center at 5:45—so I wasn’t very talkative.  Sure, I was polite, but I kept the interaction to a minimum. I was tired and wanted to expend as little energy as possible.

I didn’t get away with my silence for long.

Your cooler’s not working, I heard the man/alien say. He was standing by the merchandiser that looks like a cooler but isn’t a cooler. He must have opened the door and not felt the gust of chilled air he expected.

It’s not a cooler, sir, I told him.

But there’s meat in there! he said frantically.

It’s jerky, sir, I told him.

How did he look in there and see meat but not realize it was jerky? The meat in the cooler/not a cooler was in bags hanging from hooks not in trays lying flat like in a grocery store meat department. Also, if he had really looked at the meat, he would have seen it was brown and dry, not red and moist like raw meat. If those clues didn’t lead him to understand this meat was not perishable, perhaps the word “jerky” on the packaging would have offered him the information he needed. Besides, what gas station sells raw meat as snack food?

 It’s meat! he insisted. He wasn’t wrong, but he was confused.

Jerky doesn’t have to be refrigerated, sir, I explained.

How does he not know that? I wondered. How could anyone over the age of 25 not know that jerky doesn’t need to be refrigerated?

The only answer I could come up with? Space alien!

I took all the photos in this post at the Alien Fresh Jerky store in Baker, CA.

Not Very Bright


When I work in the parking lot, I’m confronted with plenty of people who don’t seem very bright. Sometimes I think people could figure out the answers to their own questions if they just thought about the situation a little harder. I try to stay patient and upbeat and helpful, but honestly, I’m losing faith in the intelligence of humanity.

This season, the question I’m getting again and again (and we’re only a few weeks into the season) is some variation of Why are so many trees dead? (sometimes phrased as Why are so many trees brown? or Why have so many trees been cut down?) It’s as if people haven’t heard California has been suffering from a multi-year drought. Sure, someone from Des Moines or Frankfurt may not know anything about the weather woes of California, but percentages tell me that some of the people who are asking these questions live in the Golden State.

One day a man asked me why so many trees were dead, and I said, Drought. California’s been suffering from a drought for several years.

My co-worker looked at the man and said, Do you live in California?

The man shrugged and said, I live in Orange County, as if the drought had nothing to do with him.

I guess as long as water’s flowing from the tap, the drought isn’t real to some people.

Last weekend, one of the other people on the payroll of the company I work for was lamenting the drought. He said, In six years, there’s not even going to be a mountain because all of the trees will be dead.

I think the mountain will still be here, even if the trees are dead, I told him.

Later in the day, a grown man wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle t-shirt asked why so many trees were dead.

I said, The drought.

He asked (in what seemed to be complete seriousness), Does the drought pick out trees to kill? as if the drought were a sentient being with love for some trees and a vendetta for others.

I was pretty much flabbergasted and at a loss for words. How to even begin to answer such a question? Other visitors were vying for my attention (money to collect! restrooms to point out!), and I ended up telling the guy that some trees were stronger and better able to withstand the drought. You know, survival of the fittest and all of that, I told him. I’m not sure if that tidbit of information helped him.

The last perplexing question I received that day (from yet another grown man) came after he asked me if the trail he was about to visit were the only place sequoias grow. I explained about the range where the tree reproduce naturally (on the Western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountains) and then he said, Why are the sequoias extinct?

I blinked my eyes once, twice, three times and said, But they’re not extinct. There’s one growing right there, as I pointed to the tall, tall tree towering over the others.

It turned out he thought the trees were dying out because they only grow in a limited area. (Maybe he doesn’t know what extinct means? Maybe he meant endangered?)

I explained that no one know why sequoias only grow in a limited area, that this is one of the  great mysteries of the trees.

I pray to the universe to grant me patience.

I took this photo of a dead ponderosa pine. It has a pink ribbon around its trunk and is slated to be felled.

I took this photo of a dead ponderosa pine. It has a pink ribbon around its trunk and is slated to be felled.