Tuesday, December 05, 2006
It was a dark and stormy night … NOT. Actually, it was a crisp cold, sunny Saturday afternoon. It was after football season and before baseball season. With no lawn to mow nor garden to plow and nothing to watch on television, I was sitting at the kitchen table making idle conversation with my wife. I decided to clean out my wallet. My credit cards, membership cards, gas cards, were soon spread out on the table while I decided which should go back to the wallet and which would do just as much good in my bureau drawer. (Now the following will give you a clue how long ago it was.) My wife looked at the table and said, “Why is your ESSO card different than mine?” She got out her card and we studied them for an embarrassing long while before we noticed the obvious difference. Hers had someone else's name on it.
We lived in a fairly small town and so I took a chance and looked in the phone book. Sure enough, he was listed. I called, but he wasn’t home so I explained to his wife that apparently the cards had been switched at a gas station. (In N.J. you weren’t allowed to pump gas for yourself. You stayed in the car and an attendant took your card, pumped the gas, and then gave you back the card. If two or more were getting gas at the same time, cards could easily get switched.) She said she would have her husband call when he got home. But he didn’t call; he arrived at the front door soon after, all flustered. He had my wife’s card and we switched. But he wasn’t through. He had his Esso bills for the last two months with him and nothing would do but that we figure out who owed who, how much.
The next month he was back again with his bill and we settled up again. The third time he came it was to say that there were no charges on his bill that weren’t his. He wanted to see our bill to be sure that none of his charges were on it. There weren’t. I was by then a little annoyed that he had made such a big deal out of a few dollars. Gas was cheap then. I made a not-too-friendly comment about being glad we had settled the mix-up without having gotten Esso involved in it. He practically gushed about how happy he was. He turned to leave, then returned and standing very close, in a hushed voice, he said, ”You see, I am a manager in the credit department of ESSO”.
PS For those reading this outside the US. The brand name "Esso" was changed to "Exxon" in 1972.