Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

ARCO Gas Station: Something Doesn’t Feel Right


Just before leaving Seattle for the airport, I filled my gas tank. I went to an ARCO station, opened my tank lid and went to swipe my card when I saw a sign saying everyone must pay inside.

Annoying. It’s so convenient when you can just swipe your card at the point of service. I go inside and the Ethiopian woman at the counter asks me how many gallons I want.

I said “I need to fill the tank; I don’t know how many gallons. Swipe my card and then I will come in and sign the charge receipt when we know how much it is.”

She said that’s not how it works, they need to charge me and then they will give me back change. My bad. At that point I should have walked. I should have gone to the next gas station. I didn’t.

So I guessed 15 gallons, and she charged me $60. My car didn’t even take nine gallons. When I went inside, she gave me back $26.81 in cash, not refunded to my credit card. That is just such a strange way to do business.

It bothered me. What bothered me more was that when I got home and looked at my receipt, I had been charged $61.00. It’s only a dollar more, but the cost of my gas ($33.19) and my change back (26.81) add up to $60. Why was I charged $61?

Here is my dirty suspicion – she thought for $1. no one will bother complaining. If you read my previous entry, you can see why – my life is busy in its own way, but other people’s lives are busy in their ways. Who is going to made a big deal over $1.00 overcharge?

I don’t have time to deal with it right now and I will hold on to the receipts to see if I want to spend my precious time later trying to make it right. Or will I just figure my time is more precious than arguing over $1. in which case the scam works every time?

If this was a $1. charge for something, I don’t see it anywhere on the receipts. Do you? Why would they charge me for the inconvenience of buying gas in such a convoluted way?

I will NEVER go to that gas station again.

Second thought: Maybe I should just think of it as a charitable contribution?

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Customer Service, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Rants, Scams, Seattle, Travel | 4 Comments

God Laughs; Life’s Craziness

One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 2, which advises us to humbly submit to the will of Almighty God or suffer the consequences of our own actions. I’ve heard God laughing all week, sometimes at me, sometimes with me.

Psalm 2

1 Why do the nations conspire,
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
3 ‘Let us burst their bonds asunder,
and cast their cords from us.’

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord has them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 ‘I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.’

7 I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, ‘You are my son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron,
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
with trembling 12kiss his feet,*
or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;
for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him.

I’m a planner. I figure out what I want, and then I figure out how to get it. When we decided we wanted to take a trip to Alaska, we booked – and paid – a year in advance to get the kind of room we wanted. We also planned to buy a new car, and started saving for that, being pay-cash kind of people.

Then, early in the year we discovered we were going to become grandparents to a granddaughter! She would arrive shortly after we get back from our Alaska trip.

This week, God laughed. The doctors told our son and his wife that she needed to go on bedrest, and that this baby will be coming early. All the grandparents have been helping with childcare through the summer, now we just ratcheted it up a notch.

Do you know why God gives children to YOUNG parents? LOL, a three year old has SO much energy! So much curiousity! We have such a good time with him and when at the end of the day, we return him to his parents – we need a nap!

We are also trying to pack and prepare for our trip, get the Qatari Cat prepared for the cat hotel, get the guest suite prepared for the people who will stay while we are gone, and oh yes, finish up the purchase of that new car.

I had thought the first week in August would be a snooze, isn’t it always? Those long, hot humid days hit Pensacola, often one of those violent and emotional thunderstorms that clears the air in the late afternoon, lazy day after lazy day, right?


Not this year. This year was fly to Seattle for my Mom’s 90th birthday celebration, fly back, take care of our grandson for a week, do whatever we can to help out our son and his wife while she is on bed rest, buy and sell two cars, do our normal volunteer work – oh, and we had scheduled two meetings at our house, so we had to be presentable, and have some delicious things available. I could hear God laughing.


In the midst of all this, we are healthy. We have a good roof over our heads. We have the means to get a new car and travel to Seattle for Mom’s birthday. We pre-paid much of the Alaska vacation. Our little grandson is happy, and strong, and articulate, and fun to be around. Our son and his wife are wonderful, loving parents, and hard workers, and are preparing for this sweet new arrival. God laughs, and we thank him for his abundant blessings, and his abundant patience with us thinking we have any control over the months that come. We pray for the safe and healthy arrival of this little granddaughter who may arrive while we are gone, for a safe delivery, and a speedy recovery for her mother, and for strength and courage for her father, our son, who is a valiant man. We welcome your prayers.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | Aging, Community, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Parenting, Relationships, Values | Leave a comment