Monday, 12 September 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

It was my birthday last week – and that’s my excuse for not blogging for a wee while – and YES, it took me all week to celebrate.

Anywho, on the afternoon of my birthday I was sat sitting in my car in a queue for fuel. The petrol station was VERY busy.

As busy as a one legged man in an arse kicking contest.

And if you know me, you’ll know that I hate waiting in queues.

Eventually, after much huffing and drumming of fingers on the steering wheel, there was just one car between me and some diesel satisfaction. A young woman climbed out of her car and filled up. (Haven’t you noticed that everyone in front of you fills their tank, while in the other queues they are only topping up with about ten pounds worth? What’s that all about?)

At last, she moved as if to pull the nozzle out of her car. Nothing happened. She pulled again. The nozzle didn’t move. The girl blew hair out of her eyes, shifted her grip and pulled some more. Nothing.

C’mon, missus – I mumbled.

Her handbag was over her shoulder. She adjusted it – pulled some more. No movement. She shook it about. Nothing.

She looked over at me and made a small grimace of apology.

I smiled back and muttered – awfurfucksake.

She adjusted her handbag again, pushed her fringe away from her eyeline, took a deep breath and PULLED. Nada, zip, zilch. She pulled, pulled and PULLED. With the same result.

I caught myself about to swear again and gave myself a lecture. What was I getting annoyed about? She wasn’t doing this deliberately. I didn’t have to be anywhere in a hurry –  and the poor woman was getting really flustered. I’m always telling the wee fella “its nice to be nice”. Time to live up to the lecture, Mikey-boy.

Then I wondered if I should offer to help. Maybe she was a rampant feminist and would knee me in the danglies and tell me to go do myself. Maybe she would dislodge it just as I walked up and I would end up looking like an eejit. Or maybe I would end up struggling just as much as she was.

While I indulged in my pointless internal debate she was still tugging at it, so I got out of the car and walked towards her.

Want me to try, I asked?

Oh yes please, she answered.

The nozzle was fully inserted into the – don’t know what to call it – fuel-hole? I went through the same pantomime she had been performing with the inevitable result. It was well and truly stuck.

It’s really stuck, innit? I said helpfully. I pulled some more. It’s a really tight fit – I continued – your hole is awfy tight.

Realising what I had just said, I coughed and fought down a blush.

I gave the nozzle a wee jiggle (I give good jiggle) and I could see that the curved pipe inside her fuel-(ahem) hole had a row of ridges on the underside and one of these was getting caught in a lip inside her - , no, I’m not going there.

I twisted the nozzle and jiggled some more (see above) and the handle moved out of her car as smoothly as  if it had been coated in lube. (I’m at a bad age, let me go with this.)

Men and their hoses, eh?

Back in my car, feeling pleased with myself I waited for the woman to pay and move her car so I could drive mine into position. After paying and before she sat in her own car, she approached mine. I rolled down the window. She handed me a bar of chocolate – a yorkie bar – that’s for being a big strong man, she said grinning her thanks.

Ten minutes later and I was still smiling at this turn of events as I parked in a car park in town. I had birthday money melting in my wallet and I HAD to spend it. The car park is one of those where you pay at the machine; it prints a voucher and you display it prominently in your car. As I walked to the machine a young man moved towards me.

He asked me -you about to buy a ticket?


Here ye go – he handed me his. I just bought this a minute ago and then I got a text saying I needed to be somewhere, you might as well have it – he smiled.

Well, you have this - I offered the man the pound coin I was about to slip into the machine.

Nah, you’re alright mate, he said and walked away with a wave.

See. Perform an act of kindness and it come right back atcha.


  1. A well known but little used law, ain't it? Now picture me trying to get the gas pump nozzle out of the, er, gas-receiving thingie and I'm looking at the guy behind me, begging subtly for help and hoping his first thought is something chivalrous but in reality he's giving me the finger verbally and thinking about moving to another pump. Well the law doesn't say you have to do it happily does it?

  2. Pay it forward, isn't that what they call it or was that just a film?

  3. "Fuel hole" made me spit tea. (I must be in the same age group).

    Smiling at people works a treat as well.

  4. Can't wait to read your novel, if these little observations of yours are any indication of what to expect. :)

    And Happy Belated Birthday.

  5. Ricky- it was a book and then a film and I believe that there are a lot of people who follow this maxim.

    Barb - age group? That would be "Forever 21"?

    LG - thank you - the novel is crime, but my sense of humour creeps in from time to time. I can't help it.

  6. Pay it forward in action, Michael! I was so hoping you'd get out of your car to help that poor woman - well done for following your chivalrous instincts.

  7. hey Rosemary - I'm now wondering what I would have done if it was a man who had been struggling. Would I have been so willing to help - or continued cursing them? Dunno.

  8. God, Michael, you're so smooth. And what a pity they don't need Carry On scriptwriters any more. Great post, Big Man.

  9. Bill - smooth is my middle name. Not. And I would have been SO good on a Carry On movie. Oh, matron!