The price of obsessive-compulsive disorder

A dollar and sixty cents.

You may remember that taking advantage of a hotel promotion during World Tour ’07 earned me a $100 gift card from Shell. (Actually, I had my choice of several brands, but pretty much any direction I go around town, there’s a Shell station, usually in the form of a Circle K store.) I’d used it twice, to the tune of $71, meaning I had $29 left, and I vowed to use up exactly that much.

Now of course I could have waited a few days for the gauge to drop below 3/8 of a tank, shoved in the card, picked up my ten gallons or so (Shell V-Power was $2.859 at the station of choice today), let the card run out, and then swipe my check card or something else to finish the fill. But no: my mission was to complete the transaction as close as possible to $29.00.

So I started the pump, seized the squeegee, and after not enough time passed, the telltale Very Loud Click informed me that the pump had shut off — at $26.95. The Oklahoma wind managed to mask a couple of Anglo-Saxonisms as I started squeezing the handle for driblets.

At the $27.40 point, I was just this side of soaking my shoes, which runs very much contrary to New Balance’s shoe-care recommendations. Declaring failure, I replaced the nozzle, strode to the counter, and reported my sad story to the cashier. “Here,” I said, handing him the card and the receipt indicating $1.60 left. “Give it to someone deserving, or use it yourself.” The poor fellow had never seen such a thing before, and as I turned back toward the door, the folks behind me gave me the strangest look I’d ever gotten in a C-store that didn’t involve a zipper malfunction. At the time, though, I just wanted to wash my hands of the whole affair.

It dawned on me later that if I still had my old lawn mower, I could have fed it more than half a gallon of the low-test stuff. But no matter. What’s done is done. Next tankful will be paid for in a more conventional manner.

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