Friday, October 2, 2009

Working On The Turnpike Blues

When I was 17, I got a job at an Arco Gas Station, at The Mahoning Valley Service Plaza, on The Ohio Turnpike. I had a couple of buddies from high school that worked there and they seemed to like it. I figured it was better than bagging groceries. There also was a HoJo's restaurant next door, where I knew I could get hot coffee and a meal.

Looking back on it now, I miss those days. Work was never again that easy. Back in the early 70's, the gas station was full service. Checking the tire pressure, the oil level, fan belts, radiator hoses, air filters,etc. was part of the job. We were extremely busy during the Summer months, the height of the Vacation Season.

The beauty of checking all the stuff on a car was anything that you found that was in need of repair or replacement, you received a commission on. 10 cents on a quart of oil, 50 cents on belts and hoses, 5 bucks for a tire, and 10% of the price of any other item. I had commission checks over $500 a month! Not bad for a high schooler in the 70's! I became the station's best "Salesman" my first Summer there. This entitled me to a "Prime Hours Shift", Noon until Eight P.M., perfect for a kid to have a Night Life!

You meet people from every walk of life on The Turnpike. Oh, the stories I could tell! It's amazing how oblivious people are to where they are and what they are doing! A young guy pulled up to the pumps and I went to his car window to greet him. As I bent down to talk to him, I noticed a young lady with her head on his lap. Dare I say, she wasn't taking a nap, if you know what I mean! Wink, wink. She paid no attention to me and carried on with her "Busy Work".

I met celebrities, athletes, and Movers and Shakers from all over the world. I waited on a Cowboy one time in a White Cadillac Convertible, complete with Steer Horns mounted on the hood. I mentioned several things to him in need of attention. In his Classic Texas Drawl, he bellowed,"Boy, anything you find wrong, go ahead and fix it. I'll be at HoJo's catchin' a bite to eat." When finished, he pull out a roll of Bills big enough to choke a horse. He peeled out $1800 to cover the bill and a $20 tip for me! He never batted an eye. Geez, I needed more customers like him!

Everyone knows you don't buy anything on The Turnpike,unless you have no choice. Prices are usually twice of what you normally pay retail. I usually "Brown Bagged It" for my lunch. However, when HoJo's had their Salisbury Steak Sandwiches, I couldn't resist. An EXTREMELY heavy-set and unattractive waitress knew of my hankerin' for those sandwiches. She always brought two or three of them over to me at the service station at no charge. I guess she thought she could win this boy over through his stomach. She came close. Yazir! Dem was good eatin'!

My college schedule eventually interfered with my work schedule and I had to quit. It was probably just as well. within a couple of years, Arco was gone and the new gas station was self serve, only needing one cashier. Times were changing. We all had to get used to the idea of paying much more for gasoline and if you want your windshield washed...DO IT YOURSELF!!!

1 comment:

  1. I wonder how many people don't even remember having someone pump your gas for you? Just seeing "Arco" brought back memories.
    Another great post, Tom.