A Fire, a Fuel Stop, and Two Sisters

Family stories are such fun to tell. With those stories, you have to know the people or you had to have been there. Unless you fit in at least one of these categories, they’re usually not funny to the average Joe.

Like the time two of my sisters went on vacation together. They came through southern Virginia on their way home to see us. Dave and I hadn’t been married more than a year or two, and he didn’t know these gals as well as he does now. That evening, he was just shaking his head at their escapades. We are still laughing about this episode.

If one of my sisters can do something illegal and get away with it, it’s the older one. She’ll drive the wrong way on a one-way street (not on purpose, of course), but nobody ever sees her. Speed limit? What’s that? Tickets? Very few. If she is stopped, she manages to weasel her way out of it in a totally innocent fashion.  She always knows someone who knows someone, and she gets off Scott-free.

They told us about the evening in the hotel when the fire alarm went off. One of them wanted to throw her suitcase out the window from the fifth story. Luckily, youngest sister stopped her before her wallet-stashed-with-money-hidden-in-the-suitcase disappeared into the night. Too excited to get dressed, they threw housecoats on and took the steps to the lobby, where they found other guests fully clothed and totally calm since there really was no fire. The alarm was the result of a child pulling on the bar.

Their last stop before they turned down the road to the Union community was at the gas station in Halifax – back in the days before Self Service came into play, back when an attendant washed your windshield and checked your oil while pumping gas for you.

They pulled into the station and failed to notice that this was a “self-serve” island. Never fear.

Older sister rolled down her window and called to the gentleman coming out of the store, “Can you fill it up, please?”

They noticed he seemed a little startled, but he proceeded to pump their gas.

Older sister stuck her head out the window again, “Do you wash windshields?”  (Where she was from, attendants always wash windshields while they are pumping your gas, and she couldn’t figure out why she had to even ask him to do this for her. After all, it should be part of the service.)

service station window squeegie

As a true gentleman, he proceeded to the front of her car and washed the windshield for her.

Then he got into his pickup truck on the other side of the island and drove away.

That was when they realized they had pulled into a self-serve island and been served by another customer.

Who knows what stories he told when he got home that evening?!

Was he shaking his head in bewilderment or in laughter at these obvious northerners who lacked a southern drawl?

Did he notice their out-of-state license plate or recognize their Yankee accent? Did he think they were lazy or foolhardy, or did he realize that they had no idea they’d pulled into a self-service island?

He could have said, “Serve yourself,”  but he didn’t. He could have said, “That ain’t my job,” but he didn’t. He could have shrugged his shoulders, hopped into his pickup and rolled away. He didn’t.

Truly a southern gentleman, he filled their request without complaint, reprimand, or disdain.

That, my friends, is service at its very best.

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