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“That’s how I get a general sense of what a place is like,” he said. He was a father who had coached his daughter’s softball team, and whenever he stopped to get coffee, he’d point out something wrong with the gas station: litter in the lot, how the Redbox kiosk blocked the doors. His unwavering “this is how it should be done” view reminded me of my dad, and I eventually regretted cursing him earlier in the summer.
That afternoon, I pinned open the men’s room door with the garbage can and swept the trash toward the hallway.
The kind of mega-station where you stop for gas and end up buying a Philly cheesesteak, chips and a large Pepsi because a sign on the pump reminded you: It was almost three on a hot summer afternoon.
All sixteen pumps were being used, Baum had traffic, and we were understaffed.
Then there are the people who can’t even meet your eyes. Giesey drew the blueprint, and Baum was chosen as the site because, as part of the Lincoln Highway, it was already known as Auto Row, home to car dealerships and the Ford factory.
The assistant manager said he’d watch my line while I cleaned, but that was wishful thinking.Big-time.” When I heard that, I pictured a combination of things I had already cleaned up: an overflowing toilet, soiled underwear, and used needles. This “big-time” mess didn’t warrant a change in routine.I pulled a mop bucket filled with hot, soapy water into the men’s room and looked around. That guy had said “big-time.” Paper towels dotted the tile floor, a pile of toilet paper sat next to the toilet in the lone stall, the ground was wet around the urinal, and there were tar marks from dirty shoes. As I swept, I cursed the man with the whitish-blonde mustache. The assistant manager said he had complained before.Because that’s usually what accompanies the look, a cry of: Then people within earshot make the look, too. His blue, checkered dress shirt was tucked into khakis, and he sported a thin, whitish-blonde mustache that matched the ring of hair around his head. “You need to clean that bathroom.” He raised his eyebrows and his forehead wrinkled. “Go on, hurry up.” Cleaning the bathroom quickly was imperative, but it was more complicated than the importance of sanitation.Expecting a scene, my muscles tightened as I rang up a customer. The gas station is located along Baum Boulevard, one of the East End’s main thoroughfares, and it’s one of those Exxon-Mc Donald’s-7-Eleven hybrids – café seating, sixteen fuel pumps, and 23 parking spaces.
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I got to know Chuck one afternoon a few weeks later. “The water pressure’s so strong it shoots onto the ground, then people come in here, see it’s all wet and think someone peed all over the place.