Witnesspals Writings
2003-02-04 23:31:08 (UTC)

Fill Her Up: My First College Essay

“I’m not obsessive.” I could have said
that calmly last week. After last Thursday, though, my
whole outlook changed. I can still say it now, but there’s
an obvious twinge of defense in my throat that wasn’t there
before. Now it sounds more like a question than a

Last Thursday was proceeding as does any other
Thursday. I escape out of my afternoon College Algebra
class and rush to my car. Since I have no Friday classes,
this weekly dash to my Camry symbolizes three days of
freedom. I start up my car and begin my trek back to
historical Ste. Genevieve, or as I like to call it, home.
On my usual route home, I head toward Jackson to grab a few
gallons of the cheapest gasoline on the planet. I swiftly
pulled up to the first open pump at the high trafficked
Rhodes, completely oblivious as to what was about to
happen. In mere moments, I would be forced to make one of
the hardest decisions of my life.

I took the nozzle from the pump and inserted
into my dry gas tank. I noticed that the price of gas had
gone up, but I thought nothing about it. Everything seemed
normal. I look into my wallet and pulled out a crisp
twenty dollar bill. I counted to make sure that the other
three twenties were in there before I closed my wallet and
placed it firmly into my back pocket. I stared mindlessly
as the numbers on the tank whirred by. But as I monitored
the tank, something caught my eye. I had already run up
twelve dollars in gasoline, but I had barely eclipsed the
nine gallon mark. “This is going to run me up real close
to twenty bucks” I thought to myself precariously. My
attention switched back to the pump as more numbers clicked
by whimsically. My mind wandered as I looked around at all
the other customers. I wondered where they were going and
where they had came from. I looked back to my pump in
anticipation that my tank was nearly full. 18.60 and
rising. This was the most I had ever put in my tank. I
felt a sudden sense of faint anxiety, but I was unaware why.

I had always come and filled my tank up, paid
with a twenty and put the change in the ashtray of my car.
This time, though, it wasn’t that simple. “This is silly,”
I thought to myself. “Why am I getting nervous over the
price of my gas? I have eighty dollars.” But as the
digits skimmed past 19.30 I grew restless. I already knew
that I hated breaking twenties. I always try to pay with
exact change, and only break a large bill when I have to.
I didn’t think it bothered me to this extent, though. My
palms instantly became sweaty, and I grew fainter. The
price raced past 19.50. What was I going to do? I could
just top it off at twenty and drive with an incomplete
tank. I had never tried that, but just the concept made me
queasy. I could just pull another twenty out of my wallet,
only to be replaced with fives and countless ones, not to
mention a pocketful of silver. That option seemed equally
as terminal.

I clinched the pump handle as the price neared
19.90. As the last few cents counted down, my mind raced.
I thought of stopping the pump. The thought surged through
down to my fingertips as I gripped the handle. The two
options battled for what seemed like forever, before I
finally made up my mind. I closed my eyes, and for a brief
second, I blacked out. Either I blacked out or I
involuntarily shut off my brain for just long enough to
make my decision. No thought, no pressure, and no stress
passed through my brain. When I came to, I looked at the
pump. It read 20.76.

I stared at the pump for what seemed like
hours, not knowing what to do. As I thought about what had
just happened, I realized something. I am an obsessive
freak. I chuckled, took a deep breath, and went inside to
pay the clerk. “20.76” he said. I grudgingly handed him
two twenty dollar bills. He flashed a quick smile at me
and asked “Out of forty?”