Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Remembrances: A Dream Killed by Progress

As a boy, I wanted to be a gas station attendant when I grew up. I liked the snappy beige uniform with your name embroidered in red over the breast pocket where the tire pressure gauge resided.  I loved the gas company logo on the opposite pocket, and I coveted that military-style black-brimmed cap.  

I wanted to be asked to “fill’er up,” or to “put in a dollar’s worth” and listen to the pump’s hum as I scraped smashed bugs off the windshield with my squeegee blade.

I envisioned how I would expertly brandish a cloth-cradled dipstick before the trusting eyes of the proud owner of a shiny late model Packard, Studebaker or Hudson, to prove conclusively that his oil was a quart low and then smoothly punch the gleaming spout through the top of the can before deftly pouring its contents into the hot, clicking engine.

I wanted to keep the change. I wanted to jingle the coins in my right pants pocket, while gazing down the highway, awaiting the arrival of the next customer, first seen climbing through the shimmering heat to roll over the rise, sunlight flashing from the chrome.

But sadly, by the time I was grown and ready to launch a career, the sign above the pump read “Self-Service Only” and my dream was nothing but the relic of a longed-for past, where simple aspirations were enough upon which to build an honest life.