The little sanctity that existed at the gas station vanished.
Way back when, there was no need to even get out of one's car while filling up. Then stations began to realize they were paying people to do jobs customers could do themselves and, va-voom, self-service.
Still, the gas station was a place of civility. You saw someone you knew, you'd say hello and chat a bit. Aside from that, little conversation was held because, well, what is appropriate to say to a stranger when you're holding a rigid rubber hose in your hand?
The boys who pulled in behind me today seemed not be concerned with such trivialities.
Hearing the music that played over the loudspeaker - Bad Company's "Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy", I believe - they immediately burst into song.
I might not have minded so much had Paul Rodgers himself had sung it.
But these guys were awful. If that weren't enough, they seemed to want the entire block to know they were awful.
I'm generally the quiet type, someone who lays low among people I don't really know. And while I didn't grow up in Philadelphia, I grew up an hour north in eastern central Pennsylvania. Still close enough to pick up the very un-Midwestern sensibilities of Philly and New York, which was two hours away.
With each passing missed note, I came closer to telling them in no uncertain terms that they sucked, and the sound of the nearby jackhammer was more pleasing to my ear than their tone-deaf bleatings - a la Eddie Murphy singing on the street in "Coming to America."
But then I thought of the normal civility exhibited at gas stations. There's a chance my missive might, well, miss and create even more dischord. In trying to restore order, more idiocy may have ensued. Sometimes, when you push back against something, it doesn't respond; instead, it pushes back harder - like on a hill, for example.
Not wanting to waste any more time in my day, I thankfully finished filling, hopped in the car and tuned my XM to a channel with real music, sung by moderately-trained (or at least moderately-talented) musicians.
Service station civility took a hit on this day. I can only pray that the budding Nelson brothers will try to pull that stunt in Boston, New York or Philly, not some suburban place in DC where the biggest guy at the place didn't have the sack to tell them to shut the hell up.