The scene: A gas station at the intersection of two main streets in a suburban NJ town. Two gas pumps. Station looks like it was built in 50’s and probably was. Two gas pumps.
The time: Summer, midafternoon.

Middle-aged brunette woman pulls up to pump in middle-aged gray Honda Civic. She mooches around in purse and assembles 10 dollars.
Young darker skinned man approaches.

Woman: Ten regular.
Attendant: [Something]
Woman: Yes.
[Intermission while gas tank is filled]
Attendant approaches car for payment. Woman notices [and we notice] that pump says $15.00
Woman hands attendant a 5 dollar bill and and five ones.
Attendant counts money
Attendant [angrily] Only ten here. [points at pump]Fifteen-give me five more.
Woman: I only asked for ten.
Attendant: No, fifteen.
Woman: I only asked for ten.
Attendant: No fifteen, I ask two times.
Woman: I only asked for 10. That’s all the money I have on me.
Attendant: You ask for fifteen. {turns to other attendant] She ask for fifteen. Right. [Other attendant nods head.]
Woman: This is bullshit. I’m only giving you ten.
Attendant: Give me credit card.
Woman: No!!
Attendant: Give me five more or I call police.
Woman: Go ahead. Call the police.
Attendant: I call police.
[Imagine side-by-side monologues of attendant and woman]
[Attendant goes into repair bay and talks to man working on car. Attendant holds up cell phone, man makes call to police]
[Another intermission]
[Police car pulls up. Thirty something male police officer with tattoo on arm gets out of car, approaches attendant and has conversation we can’t hear]
[Woman approaches police officer]
Officer: What’s going on
Woman: “”” [we’ve heard this story before.]
Officer: We get lots of complaints, it’s a problem. These guys don’t speak English well. You have to be real specific with them. I say I want “15” so they don’t give me “50.”
Woman: I only asked for $10.
Officer: You can use the gas right?
Woman: [mooching around in purse again] I only asked for $10. I have 3 more dollars. That’s it.
Officer: Will you be coming back here?
Woman: [points to plates]. I live in New York.
Officer: You may not be happy with this resolution but it resolves the situation. I’ll tell him that you only have 3 $, you won’t be coming back and that’s it. He’s beat out of 2.
Woman: You know I’ve been in situations like this before, and yes sometimes it’s a miscommunication. But this is also a way of ripping off the customer, and that’s what I think is going on here. I just want to say that.
Officer: We get calls all the time.
Woman: I grew up here
Officer: I did too
Woman: And I remember this place was owned by the same person. It’s not the same
Officer: Maybe not
Woman: Anyway thanks
[Woman hands officer three dollars. He approaches attendant who has been glaring]
Officer: This is all she has. And she’s not coming back. Look you have to be really specific
[Woman drives away as second police car pulls up]
THE END

Discussion Question:

1. Did this ever happen to you? Did you feel angry and ashamed of yourself at the same time?

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