A lot nicer looking than the guy I dealt withIf I were ever to give a graduation speech, I’d be remiss to not include in my general advise to the graduates the practical advise to always fill up their gas in the daytime.  Gas stations are a magnet for scammers and garden variety crazy.  Gas stations at night are where the undead go bum a cigarette and scare the bejesus out of the living.

ME: You know cigarettes kill.

UNDEAD: Yeah but they don’t re-kill…You got a dollar?

ME: Sorry, just using my card and could you not kill me please.


Like anyone giving advise it would help if I myself remembered to follow it.  Too often I find myself driving back from a gig on empty or tired and I’m forced to stop at a gas station.  My latest zombie encounter happened at a Petrol Station in Irvine, CA of all places.  Irvine looks and feels like a place where all pain, dirt and anything on the margins has been extracted and what’s left is a sterile place where people can live perfect lives as long as they never leave.  Like a west coast Stepford, idyllic yet ominous though you can’t completely figure out why.

Even in Irvine though, nighttime fuel pumping isn’t a good idea.  I stopped for gas and sure enough like every gas station they’re seemed to be people hanging out without a purpose.  I wasn’t thrown by this but then as I walked toward the cashier a guy approached me.  He sported tattoos that covered 73% of his face. (that’s just a guest-ti-mate though)  As if a face tattoo wasn’t daunting enough, he walked with a hitch in his get-up that suggested he was on a mission. I’m thinking his mission didn’t involve saving the planet or helping kids.  I felt him getting closer so I slowed down.  No need wasting my energy walking fast if it was about to go down.  I got to the door before him and turned ready for whatever.  I didn’t think a guy with a face tattoo would be an easy win but then again neither am I.  I opened the door and faced him.  It’s like I was saying “you can go ahead of me into the store and we can be cool.  Or we can see if your crazy can match my inner Brooklyn”


It was the showdown that wasn’t.  He didn’t walk into the door I had opened for him but he didn’t spark anything either.  He mumbled….

FACE TATTOO GUY: No, I’m trying to find some food stamps.

And he kept walking passed the gas station store and into the abyss.  It was hard not to catch up to him and ask him where he was going to find food stamps at 12:30 at night.  Was he asking me if I had food stamps?   Was there a food stamp scavenger hunt going on in Irvine?  Maybe Irvine doesn’t believe in welfare unless it’s combined with a fun late night game.  In any event I was relieved that I didn’t have to go toe to toe with a tattooed face.  God only knows his pain threshold!   I got myself a bag of pretzels and even more reason to fill up in the daytime.