Last Monday, a week ago, in fact, I got to work early. Early, and fuming.
I'd taken the scooter to work that day. Regular (leave me my timid fantasies, dears) readers of the blog may remember the aforementioned as a rather elderly Kinetic Honda, scene to King stories. I'd remembered that there was no petrol in the scooter, so I left extra early to fill some at the petrol pump near home.
And there, at half-past eight in the morning, I was ignominiously cheated. Well, an attempt was made. I still, at first pass, ended up paying Rs. 102 for something approaching one-third a litre of petrol. Of course it was partly my fault for not instantly screaming about the failure of the attendant to show me the zero mark. But I was in a hurry, I hadn't been paying attention, and I was wary of creating a scene. (this is how these people always end up getting away with this kind of behaviour in the first place.)
So I stood there, like a silly little cuckoo, and (horrors) decided that, despite my immediate feeling that I had been made gull of (oh, and believe me, it was immediate. the attendant had been pouring the petrol into the tank for no more than a few seconds, and the tank looked startlingly empty, and i thought "fuck, i've been cheated"), I would wait to make sure that I was before I began yelling. (i am rather wary of open-foot-insert-mouth. it makes for too much embarrassment.)
So I drove along for a while, and watched the tank indicator. It didn't move past the quarter mark. And then I knew. To confirm, and to gain some more courage, I drove home to check with the father. The father confirmed my fears, but, to my horror, seemed to think I would let the matter slide.
Do you want some more money to fill petrol, he said. Go somewhere else and do it, he added. Shock! Aghastness! Other similar feelings!
I refused to stand for such tame acceptance, so I scorned his kindly attempts at consolation, picked up my jacket from the house (one of T's little life lessons: never pass up an opportunity to pick up things you have forgotten.) and drove back to the petrol pump.
There, I proceeded to throw a right royal tantrum (which I enjoyed very much), and gave the attendants a piece of my mind - demanding to know whether they thought I was an idiot, whether they thought they could fool me just because I was a woman, showing them the petrol level in the tank and asking them in what planet that looked like two litres, threatening to call the cops...
It was a short, but powerful, performance. I wish I could have seen it from the outside.
"Put one and a half litres of petrol in this tank right now, or I'm calling the cops!", I screamed, hair on end and spit flying everywhere.
After five sentences, one of the attendants filled the tank with thirty rupees worth of petrol. I drove away feeling distinctly that I had been cheated again
I'm going back there this evening to get a litre's worth., I told myself.
The end of the tale is rather tame in comparison, though. Anticlimactic, even. I returned to vent the rest of her anger, and found that the morning attendants were off duty.
I then went in and complained, in an exceedingly boring and dignified manner, to the supervisor. He then put a litre of petrol in my vehicle, gave me a bill for the morning's two litres into the bargain, and sent me on my way.
Either I'm very persuasive, or this thing happens often enough that a litre makes no earthly difference.
Posted 22nd March 2007