When I’m pumping my car full of that sweet-smelling black gold, I get tense when I’m two cents away from a nice, round number. Maybe I’ve got a twenty dollar bill in my pocket or maybe I’m throwing it on a credit card. Either way, I just can’t be that satisfied with a $20.01 pump. If I hit $20.03 or $20.04, it’s like I wasn’t even paying attention. Call me The Big Squeeze at that point, because I clearly don’t know what I’m doing.
But if the opposite happens, if I tap that handle ever so sweetly and let a little thimble of gasoline drip into my tank so the numbers curl up to twenty bucks even, then it’s time to high-five the passengers, call the papers, and get ready for a beautifully changeless transaction.
For a split-second you transform.
Gone is mom driving the kids home from ballet, gone is the pizza driver doing a quick fill before midnight, gone is the sweaty suit pumping a fast one before riding the expressway to the office downtown.
Gone, gone, they’re all just gone.
Passers-by will squint at those pumps and swear they noticed something. Kids staring out the back of the station wagon will turn to each other and drop their jaws. Later on, newspaper reporters will write down eye-witness accounts from old folks on the porch across the street. “It must have been my imagination,” they’ll say. “But I swear I saw someone dressed all in black.”
People, if you let go of the gas pump at just the right moment, they’re talking about you.
Because you are The Pump Ninja.