Not such a petrol head 

How is it that some jobs, which are so minor, seem to grow and grow on the impost index until it becomes a real physical effort to do them?

Buying petrol is not hard, by any standards. You drive into a petrol station. Very occasionally there are some cars already using the bays and you need to wait, but more often than not I can swing my car into a bay, hop out of the car, fill the tank up with petrol and be on my way in around five minutes.

So how has this simple, clean transaction which requires little effort on my part and even less need to interact with other humans to complete, has become such a monumental pain in the butt to complete?

When we first arrived in Perth, it was in your best interests to buy your petrol during the week. The reason was because petrol stations closed at midday on Saturday and did not open again until Monday. In every area, there would be a number of ‘roster’ stations that would be open, and finding them was almost guaranteed to drain your tank of the little petrol you had in it.

Perhaps it is because I have gone for long periods of time without a car, and actually although having a car is handy from time to time when it is pouring with rain (about twice a year), a car is a trap. You jump into it to drive to a shopping center with a supermarket because you can, instead of walking down the road to the small shop, which admittedly is less well stocked, but at which you will spend are less money because there are fewer products.

I lived in Brighton for ten years without a car. I used one only twice: once when I had a Sunday job cleaning a load of pubs and had a company vehicle to get around the pubs with the cleaning gear in the time required, and the second time when I borrowed someone’s car to drive to a house somewhere off grid where my parents were holidaying. I could not have got there without the car, but then I could not find a spot to park the car when I got back to Brighton either. It took me 45 minutes of circling the streets before I was able to find a bay, effectively doubling the length of my journey home.

I did live in the town centre, so public transport was easy, but unless the weather was really bad, I would generally walk to work and back. The only thing I found that I did not like about this was being asked every five minutes for spare change/a cigarette/if I wanted to buy a Big Issue. At one point I even considered getting a T Shirt screen printed with the word NO: Wham style in large letters, but it seemed a touch mean.

For some reason, my journey to and from work, which has changed at least three times since I have been with my current employer, never seems to take me past a petrol station which is on the same side of the road as the one on which I am driving – possibly because in my endless quest to avoid routine, I never travel the same route home as I do going out in the morning.

This weekend my petrol gauge indicated that my car had just over half a tank. The needle was teasingly pointed at 12 minutes past, between a the quarter and half tank full lines. Foolishly, I thought I could make it. But we all know what happens as soon as the needle drops below half a tank. Gravity seems to grip it and it plummets towards empty at an alarming speed.

So tonight after I had dropped the dogs home, I bit the bullet and drove the car the two or so kilometres to the petrol station, which is open 24 hours, and swung it into an empty bay and filled up my thirsty beast.

I was home within ten minutes. The car was full of petrol and it had been an easy job to do, but all I could think was, ‘Thank  God I do not have to do that again for another ten days.’


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