Chapter 9: Cereal

February 2, 2009

Yep, I work at a gas station.  A gas station…in Space!

Before I explain what I mean, I can’t help but get to thinking how it is I went from a Car-Hatin’ Subway Lover to a Gas Pumpin’ Jetta Owner.  I’ve written before about the day I vowed to my dad I would never own a car again.  I’ve learned from this and many other instances to “never say never”.

The next twenty four paragraphs will lead to the following phrase: I LOVE MY CAR.

When I was six years old, I left my bike outside in the driveway behind my mom’s car.  She was about to back up over it, and noticed just in time.  In a rush, she quickly jumped out of the car and dragged it towards the garage.  She stopped short, hearing a unique rattling sound.  A bit worried, she stopped and looked at the bike, worried she had possibly done some damage in her haste.  She didn’t see anything wrong.  She shook the bike a bit to see what was making the noise and found that it was coming from the front basket.  Slowly opening the lid, her eyes fell upon a carefully compartmentalized system of food storage.

You had your Cheerios.  You had your fruit loops.  You had animal crackers, jelly beans and oreos.  All in their respective sections of the “Veggie & Dip” Tupperware container that had been missing from the kitchen for some time now.

The thing about me is that I like to have food with me at all times.  I wonder if why I never backpacked Europe is because I thought I’d break my back with all the extra goods I’d be carrying due to my OCD nature when it comes to available snacks.  Maybe it’s part of my Irish blood; you’re not going to stray too far from the cave in weather like that.

When I moved to New York I had a sweet North Face backpack with the strap for extra support.  Yes I know, only fourth graders that are forced by their parents use this strap, but for me it was, like, the best invention ever.  “I can carry as much stuff as I want” I thought, fantasizing about showing up to Central Park with a Picnic for four, a whiffle ball set containing all four bases, and a blow up kiddie pool.  You see, it’s not necessarily just food.  That’s all the five-year old version of me was concerned with.  By 22 I wanted to have a minimum of four books with me at all times, a wide variety of writing utensils, notebooks, a TI-89 Calculator, and at least today’s and yesterday’s newspaper. 

There was one small wrinkle in the plan, so to speak.  If anyone has ever used that strap in the front for back support, and I urge you to let me know if you have so I won’t feel so alone in this, you’ll know that it makes your shirt look like an accordian from all the rippled creases it leaves.  Now I had auditions to go to, and food to serve.  I remember showing up to work and getting a talking-to from my manager:

“Jesse, this has to stop.  You need to go out and buy an iron.”

“I have an iron, I-“

“Then USE it!”

It’s hard to say what’s worse for the shirt’s appearance, wearing it with the strap on or trying to stuff it into a backpack doing it’s best to challenge North Face’s “Lifetime Guarantee” by grossly exceeding the volume capacity.

Thus began an epic struggle that was never really resolved.  If I didn’t have lots of stuff with me, I found it hard to relax.  “What if I want a Clif Bar?!  I’ll end up having to buy one at a Bodega for twice the price as I get at Trader Joe’s.”  The fiscal irresponsibility was too much to bear.  How could I go to a movie?  What if a car drove buy on a rainy day when I was standing right by a puddle, and someone in the car had a bucket of that Green Goo from the Nickelodian Show “Double Dare and I got “Slimed”, and then I had to walk home in the rain, and stepped in that puddle because the Goo was blocking my view, and everyone thought I was some sort of Alien or Warlock that started pussing Green Goo when it rained, and all because I didn’t have my trusty Green Goo Stain-Remover with me in my bag (let alone a towel).

So you see my dilemma: wrinkled clothing, absence of snacks, the Goo scenario.  The result was that I never felt comfortable being away from my apartment for long periods of time.  Especially when I moved to Jersey City, this became a major problem.  Jersey City was a PATH train away from everywhere I ever needed to go.

So when I moved to Los Angeles I thought that owning a car again could solve this issue for me.  Despite the fact that I swore off cars years before, I saw what was potentially a redeeming quality.  I was ready for a car again.  You can imagine my delight then, when my car started playing “hard to get”.

But thanks to my man Carlos down in Silver Lake, I now have a backpack that is not only twenty times bigger than my last one, but it is also a registered automobile in the state of California.  It can achieve speeds of almost 70 miles per hour and the trunk occasionally opens when you hit the “Open Trunk” button.

Now here’s the catch to this “backpack”: it’s still got a strap.  But this strap is much thicker and has been designed to not create the Accordian effect on whatever it is I’m wearing.  Unlike the other strap, it is not optional; California State Law requires it’s use.

Oh, but there’s more.  Green Goo!  I don’t mean there’s Green Goo in the car, I’m just using “Green Goo” as a nonsensical exclamation of excitement.  Green Goo!  This “vehicular” backpack has room to hang up whatever shirt it is I want to keep from getting wrinkled.

I love this country.

I will from this point on refer to the Vehicular Backpack as a “car”.  My car has room for four other passengers.  If I had to choose who I’d like to be traveling with me, it’d have to be Tony the Tiger, Cap’n Crunch, Count Chocula, and some dude in a giant Oreo costume, under the condition that he would have lots of Oreos with him. 

I could not have anticipated how happy the possibilities would make me.  What should I bring with me?!  I don’t know, I don’t know…maybe a filing cabinet?

So the point of my car is that I never have to feel the way I felt in New York.  I am determined to never hear myself utter the phrase “I should head home” now, unless it is because a pet and/or my roommate needs to be fed or let into the back yard to play.  I will be as free as a bird in this city, and will explore every inch of it.

When I got auto insurance I bought the cheapest plan.  “What if your car gets stolen” someone asked.  Eh, I’ll deal.  To be honest with you, the starter is so messed up that they probably won’t be able to jack it anyway.  Someone breaks into that bad boy, however, and they’ll be able to steal my entire life.  So you bet your ass I’ve got the lowest deductible possible for my renter’s insurance.

When I called for renter’s insurance they asked me how much I wanted to insure.  As I slowly searched for a number, the guy on the phone mentioned that the minimum was Fifteen Thousand Dollars.


Who has fifteen thousand dollars worth of stuff lying around?  Some kind of jerk, that’s who.  Anyway, the contents of my Vehicular Backpack are now insured for Fifteen Thousand Dollars.  So there’s never any hesitation, like “wait, maybe I shouldn’t bring my extra pair of jeans with me, I’m only insured for so much”.  I’m insured for way more than I will ever lose.

I love my backpack.  And now I must expand that statement: I LOVE MY CAR.

Well.  We got there, didn’t we?  “Twenty-Four Paragraphs” was a bit misleading.  Quite a few of those were just individual sentences.  But here we are, in “Jesse Loves Cars Land”, which brings us to the eco-friendly gas station where Jesse works.


(that was technically a paragraph)

Eco-Friendly Gas Station is not a paradox in this new special world of “Jesse Loves Cars Land”.  It makes perfect sense. 

So come visit me in Space.  We’ve got competitive prices on all grades…