Tales from the late shift – £3/hour and all the books you can read

Back in my college (that’s what we English do between the ages of 16 and 18) days I used to have a part time job. Like most students the part time job was suitably easy, requiring no real skill beyond the ability to stand upright and appear at work when required.

My part time job was working in the local petrol station at unsociable hours during the weekends. So in response to people asking me “what did you do in your student days” I can reply “I sat in a small room reading books, watching people put petrol in their cars”. I didn’t need to go out drinking, the petrol fumes were enough.

I have many tales of weirdness to share with you, so this might become a regular thing until I run out of vaguely amusing anecdotes to tell.

My shifts used to run from 5pm to 11pm, 3pm to 11pm or the horrendous Sunday Morning shift of 7am to 3pm (or was it 8am, I can’t remember. I just remember it being nasty). To pass the time I had a variety of duties, the main one being extracting cash from customers in return for our extortionately priced petrol. We charged 80p/litre back in 1997 which made people grumpy. For the most part they willingly handed over the cash, and few tried to get away without paying.

My other duties included staying awake, watching the local teenagers steal things, talking to taxi drivers and spending three hours mopping the floor. And reading. I did a lot of reading, I think I read most of the sci-fi section of my local library. For this I was paid £3 an hour and it paid for my brand new Internet connection and mobile phone.

Taxi driver came banging on my window one night just as I was closing, evidently in some distress so I opened the door. “Quick mate, need a bucket and some water… some f*cker’s just spewed in my cab!”. People used to wait until I’d just closed up before running across all flustered asking for green rizlas, 10 B&H and a money bag. I wish the local potheads could tell the time and planned their munchie runs a bit better. You know, it’s not like many people want to buy petrol at 10pm so coming then to talk bollcoks at me would be much better.

Same in the morning with the dimwitted types who’d arrive on the forecourt before me and try filling up their cars. Hello! The shop is closed! You will need to hang the pump up or the computer won’t switch it on. No, you don’t understand do you? OK, I’ll go into the shop, turn on some lights and then vanish for fifteen minutes for a crap and a cup of tea while I wake up. You just stand there like a lemon.

And don’t even think of trying to buy your morning fags with that £20 note as you’re my first customer and I have no change!

Where were you when Princess Di died? I was sat in the shop serving customers, it was a Sunday morning and quite sunny. We didn’t sell newspapers so I found out by customers telling me.

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