Monday, April 24, 2006

Guns and Gas

I stood there at the pump, grumbling because the cheap and good grades were completely out, leaving me with only the expensive Premium gas to put in the truck. At $3.08 a gallon, even my Ranger gets expensive.

It's a decent price to pay for a study in opposites, though, which is exactly what I got.

On my side of the pump stood me, a bald and chunky Yuppie dressed in Austin casual, which means a buttondown from Goodwill, shorts, and flip-flops. My little Ford Ranger mini-truck sat there patiently, fake 4x4 styling and trim package tricking it out. I was going to be headed for my suburban office to sit around creating web graphics promoting jewelry. The cab of my vehicle was filled with Jim Croce and Indigo Girls CD's, a "Moose in the House" game for my sister's kids, and packages containing HeroMachine programs destined for everywhere between Germany and Canada so other nerds like me could make pictures of their role playing game characters. A Snickers ice-cream-bar wrapper fluttered out of my open door and limestone dust rose from the floorboard as I got out.

On the other side of the pump I could see a huge Ford 350 extended cab dualie, with the 4x4 Offroad package and rodeo styling. The other guy was a young, lean, weathered, dark-skinned man I assumed was Mexican from the way he was shouting into his cell phone in Spanish. He had on a cowboy hat, boots, and tight jeans, along with a classic long-sleeved checkered shirt. It looked tailored. Through the open door of his truck I could see leather seats and a briefcase. The cab was absolutely immaculate, not a speck of dust or out of place piece of paper.

And hanging there from the blinker column was a tooled leather holster containing a Colt .45 pistol.

I stared for a second, not sure I was really seeing what I was pretty sure I was seeing. It's not terribly unusual, Texas has a concealed-handgun license program and of course guns are part of the state character. But being that close to it somehow seemed different ... For all I knew he was cussing the other guy on the phone out and was going to get enraged at the high gas prices, proceeding to shoot the place up.

I just shook my head and kept pumping, careful to avoid looking at him or his car or to appear like I was listening in on his conversation. Guns tend to make you feel real, real polite.

I related the story to my boss, who pointed out that in Oregon (where he used to live) it is illegal both to pump your own gas and to carry a concealed weapon. It's perfectly legal to possess a gun, but you have to carry it out in the open. Here it's completely the opposite, you have to conceal your gun and someone else pumps your gas.

I don't know what all that means, exactly, but one thing's for sure -- I didn't spend much time thinking about how I was getting robbed by Mobile over the price of gas with a Colt 45 hanging five feet from me. Maybe all gas stations should do that, hire guys to walk around with one hand on a holster. It would sure keep the grumbling down.

I think next year I'm just going to ride a bicycle to work.


The Cow Whisperer said...

My cousin brought her new boyfriend over to meet us on Saturday. I answered the door with a Springfield .45 in my belt, a Ruger .357 on my hip, and a Browning .40 caliber in a shoulder holster.

He said "Well, I won't forget meeting YOU."

Jeff Hebert said...

That's hilarious, Russell! That reminds me of the story a coworker tells. He's a classic Jew from New York, down to the accent, round glasses and curly hair. He and a girlfriend were taking a driving trip through Texas, just to see what it is like. They got to a park in the middle of the desert where they were going to camp. They knocked on the door of the traler and the owner opened it up wearing a terrycloth bathrobe, cowboy boots, and two guns on a belt strapped over the top.

"This is where I am going to live," David said he decided in that moment.

You can't get that kind of free entertainment anywhere else, folks.