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There are many types of people who purchase gasoline, but three types are easy to spot. All three have an obvious physical appearance which sets them apart from other gas purchasers. Each also has a distinctive pumping technique and freely vocalizes his opinion. Finally, each type has a particular way of annoying every other patron at the same location.

The first type of gas purchaser is Leisure Lou. He can be identified immediately by his appearance. He drives a station wagon with wooden side panels and a bumper sticker that tells the world that he is retired. His Hawaiian print shirt captures everyone's attention. He wears Bermuda shorts and black socks with sandals. On his head sits a fly fisherman's hat which is his obvious display of a continuous state of leisure. His pumping technique also sets him apart from the normal crowd. When he parks his car, he stops at the first pump, preventing the use of the pump in front of him. He always pays for his gas in advance, so that the attendant can preset the pump and he will not have to worry about stopping the pump himself. He activates the pump before opening the access door and unscrewing the tank lid. He tucks the hose under his elbow and spills gas on his hip while opening the tank. As Leisure Lou leans against the side of his car, he pumps his gas absent-mindedly, confident that the pump will stop before gas pours onto the ground. Once the pump stops, he replaces the hose and screws on the tank lid but forgets to close the access door. Leisure Lou even vocalizes his not-a-care-in-the-world attitude. He whistles some melodic tune from The Sound of Music while pumping his gas. When inside the convenience store, he tells everyone how wonderful retirement is. But Leisure Lou can be a tremendous annoyance. He blocks the use of two pumps while he performs a number of time-consuming tasks. First he browses through the store with no intention of making a purchase. Then he washes his car's windshield. Next he visits the restroom to wash his hands and look at the stain on his hip. Last, he walks his dog around the small patches of grass that serve as landscaping. Leisure Lou is a man who cannot be ignored.

The second type of gasoline purchaser is Strictly-Business Betty. Her physical appearance is also very distinctive. She drives an economical, imported car that has a lock on the access door so that she can safely hide a spare key inside. She wears closed-toe pumps instead of a flirty sandal. Her skirt and blazer are of a classical line with no frills. Strictly-Business Betty's pumping technique is equally distinctive. She unscrews the lid to her tank before removing the hose from the pump. She pumps her gas until the tank is nearly full and then slows the volume to prevent the gas from spewing from the tank. Next she turns off the pump and gives the handle a final squeeze to empty the hose. Finally, she replaces the hose, seals the tank, and closes the access door as if following instructions. Now Strictly-Business Betty's most tell-tale characterisic is voiced. She announces to the cashier that she must have a legible receipt for her expense-account report. Then she preaches about the economic virtues of owning an import. Finally she distinquishes herself in a way that annoys everyone. She spends more than her fair share of time at the cashier's counter but pays no attention to the amount of purchase because she plans to pay with a credit card. But when the cashier announces the price, Strictly-Business Betty has to double check the accuracy of the computer. Then she borrows a calculator to check the gas mileage that she has received from her last tank. In the end, no one has missed Strictly-Business Betty's presence, but the other customers hope they miss her the next time she purchases gas.

The last type of gas purchaser is Lawnmower Larry. He can generally be recognized by his physical appearance. He drives a pickup truck that has a dented fender with a red and yellow gas can in the bed. He wears a sweat-stained shirt and jeans that sag to his hips. Glaring over the waistband of his jeans is his underwear. He has on a baseball cap to protect his face from the sun,and stuffed in his pocket is a red shop rag. He has a streak of grease across his brow where he has obviously wiped his sweat off with a dirty hand. Also unique is Lawnmower Larry's pumping technique. He pays his two dollars in advance but always overpumps the gas by one cent or two. He has no change and borrows the needed pennies from the courtesy jar on the cashier's counter. Lawnmower Larry can be distinguished from the other patrons by his conversation. He complains about the difficulty he has had trying to get that blankety-blank lawnmower started. Also, now that the mower is running, it is too hot to mow. Lawnmower Larry's annoyances are only two, but they distinctly identify him. First, he leaves sweat on the counter where he has leaned. Second, he always returns later in the day for more gas and repeats his earlier routine. While sympathetic to his plight, the normal patrons do not miss Lawnmower Larry when he has gone.

In conclusion, these three types of patrons can add more frustration to the life of the average patron than the price of gasoline. While somewhat humorous, these three could test the patience of a saint. Most people can identify with one or two characteristics of each type, but these are extreme characters. If any patron misses Leisure Lou, Strictly-Business Betty, or Lawnmower Larry, he should consider himself lucky.

--Jade Whelihan

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