Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Donde Los Banos de El Diablo Redux

I seem to have a special radar for finding gross and disgusting restroom while on the road. We refer to them as "The Bathrooms of the Devil." Some people are just lucky that way, I guess. On the Tucson trip not only did I find two of them but I also gassed up at The Bates Filling Station and Crack-Mart.

We were on day two of our drive, and had just left Phoenix when I decided to re-fuel. Being the Uber-Cheap bastard that I am I refused to stop in Phoenix (and the traffic was horrible) so I made the executive decision to stop outside of Phoenix in a town called Casa Grande. The highway signs noted that there were two exits for Casa Grande (which is Spanish for "Crappy Little Town with a Big Sounding Name") I declined to get off on the first exit, holding out for exit number two. My fuel gauge indicated that I was at ¼ tank, and since the brilliant folks in the Regan administration made a deal with the Big Three all those years ago my Jeep Wrangler gets about 14 MPG. Not so good for a car described as a "Hummer Escape Pod." Now, if you have never been through Arizona (or Nevada or Utah) you need to know that there are long stretches of highway with absolutely nothing; not even a Starbucks, if you can believe that. So after passing exit number one I came upon what I thought was exit number two, which was the exit for the Tanger Outlet stores. Now, I figured that there would have to be a gas station there, and since it was the next exit past exit number one, I also figured it was the second exit.

We got off the highway, and low and behold! No gas stations! So we continued to drive on the frontage road back towards Phoenix, furtively searching for a Circle K or QT.

Nope. Nothing. Just a whole lot of dark.

We did pass a small motel, which The Kid said reminded her of The Bates Motel from Psycho.
We drove a little further until finally, like an oasis in the desert, we saw a little two-pump filling station and "store".

Eyeballing my gas gauge I decided that something was better then nothing so we stopped.

A compact car was parked in front of the door, filled with less then upstanding looking individuals. The driver was inside, robbing the place I assumed. The gas station’s pumps did not accept credit cards, so I was forced to make contact with a live person, so I locked the doors and told The Kid to dial 911 if I didn’t return in five minutes. I went inside and waited behind a disheveled Crack head/getaway driver to pay my $40.00 cash. Finally, after what seemed like ages, Ms Crack head paid for her beers and whatever else she was purchasing for the rest of her gang, and I was able to give the clerk my money so she could set the gas pump to pre-paid.
The clerk told me to pull up to the front pump because it was faster. Now, apparently they are in a different time zone in "Crappy Little Town with a Big Sounding Name" because the pump took ten minutes to dispense 12 gallons of gas. So I was left to wonder "Faster then what? Siphoning gas out of someone’s tank with a garden hose?"

The entire time the Crack-mobile was still parked in front of the door (waiting for us to leave so they could rob it? Enjoying their adult beverages before they continued their journey? Neither of those prospects were too good) And The Kid was getting the distinct feeling that if we did not escape soon our next family portrait would be on a milk carton. Finally the meter read "$40.00", she unlocked my door, we fired up the Jeep and made a fast getaway.

The next exit up the road was really the second one. Well lit, Shell, Mobile, Love’s, all the comforts and pleasure of a well traveled truck stop.

And the moral of the story? I am an idiot.

But you already knew that.

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