One of my favorite things to do when I’m on the road (as I have been quite a lot lately), is to observe my fellow travelers at the rest areas/service plazas and wonder what kinds of thoughts are going through their minds as they make their way to wherever their destinations might be.
It’s usually a pretty interesting and harmless way to pass the time out there, but there are occasions when I encounter some who simply make me wonder what makes them tick, or if they’re even thinking at all!
For instance, on my way back from taking my mom back to Ohio the other day, I was pulled up to the gas pump and watching the numbers spin seemingly on forever. At the same time, another large vehicle pulled up on the opposite side.
The driver’s door quickly opened, and out stepped a younger guy from that generation who wear their baseball caps backwards and have bad facial hair and in need of a visit to a barber and seem to always be in a hurry.
Point in case: Yanking the nozzle and hose from the pump and unscrewing the gas cap, he had also managed to somehow insert his credit card into the slot in one effortless motion. I was impressed–in a weird sort of way.
However, as soon as the gas was being dispensed, this frizzy-haired guy pulled out a pack of cigarettes and just as dexterously as he’d maneuvered the gas cap, hose, and credit card a moment before, he slid one from the pack and flicked his Bic lighter and lit up. I was no longer impressed!
I watched him take a long and satisfying drag from his cigarette, as he stood no more than two feet away from the whirring gas pump, staring at the standard posted sign that admonished one and all that there was no smoking allowed. Then I imagined that night’s news with photos and on-the-scene video of what remained of the service plaza that had exploded earlier in the day on the Indiana Turnpike. Yikes!
My immediate thought was how I could get out of there quickly enough to avoid being blown to kingdom come, but, of course, my gas tank was pretty well near the empty mark, so there was still a ways to go before I could beat a hasty exit from this happy traveler.
Silently willing my gas pump to somehow speed up, I couldn’t believe that someone could be so careless and inconsiderate by smoking right then and there, totally ignoring the very common—and obvious—warning signage that smoking was prohibited! As I’ve felt on so many other occasions, some people just aren’t bright!
Fortunately, nothing tragic happened and I was out and away a short time after my initial discomfort from the not-too-bright guy puffing away and thinking he looked cool and hip with his cap on wrong and his unkempt goatee.
Looking back in my rearview mirror as I sped away to the ramp back onto the turnpike, I caught a glimpse of him continuing to stare vacuously at the pump, smoking away his road-weary blues. I hope he made it to wherever he was going, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t.