Pump n’ Jump

Alex leaned in closer and whispered with a smile. “And between you and me, there’s nothing like cracking open a fresh urinal cake first thing in the morning. It makes my stomach tingle.”

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Gordon Sharpe sipped on his freshly poured cup of coffee and looked up at the cluster of smiling faces staring back at him. He couldn’t understand what they could be so happy about. They were all clad in perfectly pressed bright yellow shirts and black pants. Some had their arms folded and were leaning against each other back-to-back. Some were facing each other with expressive, wide-open mouths, seemingly a reaction to the great joy they were experiencing. And then others were even leaping in the air and high fiving each other. Below the gleeful bunch were the words: Join Our Team!

Gordon took another sip of his coffee and shook his head in disbelief. He then sensed a person behind him, and sure enough, someone tapped him on the shoulder. Gordon turned.

“Hi! Welcome to Pump n’ Jump Convenience Stores. My name is Alex.”

“Hello,” Gordon said at the grinning stranger dressed in a yellow shirt and black pants. He glanced at the nametag and sure enough, it read: Alex, and below that it read: Team Member since 2020. He looked up at his perfect, almost Russian robotic face and perfectly groomed hair. Gordon turned to look at the sign again, and his eye zoomed in on a certain individual, and that certain individual was Alex himself. “Is that you?” Gordon asked, pointing.

“It sure is! I saw you looking over our recruitment poster and thought I’d come over. Are you thinking of joining our team?”

“Oh, no. I already have a job. I’m an architect.”

“Oooo… An architect. Very impressive. But let me ask you this… What’s your name?”


“Let me ask you this, Gordon. Do you feel like a valued member of a team where you work?”

“Actually, yes I do.”

“But what about career development and personal growth. Is it limitless? Because here at Pump n’ Jump, it is.”

“I mean… Sure, I guess.”

“Oh, come on now, Gordon. I sensed some hesitation in your voice… So, let me just lay it out on the line for you. I’ve worked at Pump n’ Jump for about two years now and it is hands down the best decision I have ever made in my life.”

Gordon was shocked. “Really?”

“Absolutely. I have never worked in such a team-oriented environment. I know I can count on my co-workers to enthusiastically join me in providing an exceptional experience for every one of our guests. And I have caring and nurturing supervisors who are happily committed to my success in the workplace. I’m not just some cog in a machine, Gordon. At Pump n’ Jump I’m part of a daily experience that elevates convenience store satisfaction to another level.”

Gordon turned back around to look at the recruitment poster again. “You all look so happy.”

“That’s because we are happy.”

“And you all have such beautiful, white teeth.”

“Pump n’ Jump offers its associates an excellent dental plan.”

“Are you pulling my leg, Alex?”

“Absolutely not, sir. I’m a proud ambassador of the Pump n’ Jump brand. I would never pull anyone’s leg.”

“But, what about pay? I’m sure it’s awful.”

“Pump n’ Jump offers competitive wages… But it doesn’t end there, Gordon. There’s a wide range of benefits available to both full-time and part-time workers — flexible scheduling, direct deposit, tuition reimbursement, one week of paid vacation after five years of service, uniform allowance, meal discounts… Oh, man. I could just go on and on. But the benefits don’t end once I walk out that door at the end of my shift.”

“They don’t?”

“No. Let me ask you this, Gordon. When you get home at the end of the day from your current job, do you feel like you accomplished something really important?”

“I mean… Sometimes. Sure.”

“Well,” Alex began with great seriousness. “I certainly do. When I get home and I know I did my very best to exceed our guests’ expectations, I glow inside. When I look back on the day and recall a customer’s wonderful smile, and I know that I was the reason for why they were smiling… I mean, man, it doesn’t get much better than that, Gordon.”

“You certainly make it sound tempting,” Gordon said. “But would I have to clean the restrooms? I think I would find that unpleasant.”

Alex put a hand to his stomach and laughed out loud. “Oh, Gordon, that’s a good one. We truly value humor and fun comradery among team members here at Pump n’ Jump. And yes, there is some cleaning involved, but if you go at it in the spirit of providing every guest an exceptional experience, it brings you great satisfaction.” Alex leaned in closer and whispered with a smile. “And between you and me, there’s nothing like cracking open a fresh urinal cake first thing in the morning. It makes my stomach tingle.”

Gordon frowned and fidgeted at that strange confession. He looked around and for some reason the reality of the world didn’t seem as wonderful beyond the glowing aura of Alex. “I don’t know… Like I said, I already have a job.”

Alex smiled again. “Did you hear what you just said?”


“You already have a job… Working at Pump n’ Jump isn’t just a job, Gordon. It’s an adventure. Think about that.”

“Well, I guess it couldn’t hurt to fill out an application.”

Alex pumped a fist in the air. “Yes! That’s awesome! And I bet I can even get you a same-day interview with the manager. Let me get you a clipboard.”

Gordon turned and looked out the window at frowning people pumping gas in the dirty parking lot. He sighed and looked into his empty paper cup and saw his dreams for a better life dissipate at first, and then bloom brightly.

Alex soon returned in a joyful jaunt and handed him a clipboard with a pen and application attached. “Here you go, my man. Wow, I am really excited about this. I’m sure you would be a valuable addition to our team.”

Gordon flipped through the multi-page application. “Seems long and intrusive. Do I really have to fill this whole thing out?”

“I know it seems a little overwhelming right now, but trust me, it’s worth it. We don’t just settle for anybody here at Pump n’ Jump. We thoroughly investigate the background of prospective employees. That way we can ensure a safe and pleasant environment for our customers and associates.”

“Wait. I have to take a drug test, a physical and a psychological screening to work here?”

“It’s a process we all have to go through, Gordon. Knowing our associates are free from the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol ensures a safe environment for our associates and our customers. And knowing that our associates are happy, stable people who are mentally fit to perform the required work duties, well, that’s just a win-win for everybody. It’s all very important… I hope that’s not a problem, Gordon.”

“I don’t do drugs and I’m not a cuckoo puff if that’s what you’re implying.”

“Whew… Good to hear. Because here at Pump n’ Jump we get high by providing our guests with an exceptional experience in our stores every single day. Drugs and alcohol are for losers, and there’s no room for losers here at Pump n’ Jump.”

 Gordon sighed. “Okay. I understand. Is there somewhere I can sit down and fill this out?”

“Well, you’re welcome to go sit out in your car and do it… You know, give yourself some privacy while you ponder the important questions of life.”

“Right,” Gordon said. “I’ll be back when I’m finished.”

“Can’t wait!” Alex called out as Gordon Sharpe exited through the sliding glass doors that whooshed like a sweet whisper of everlasting torture.

Two weeks later, Gordon Sharpe stood behind the counter at his local Pump n’ Jump wearing a bright yellow shirt and uncomfortable black pants. His nametag read: Gordon and below that it read: Please be patient. I’m training. But he still hadn’t been fully trained on anything, especially on the cash register and how to properly program the gas pumps, and now he struggled horribly with the keys and the buttons and the procedures as the grumbling line in front of him grew longer and more impatient.

“Come on!” someone shouted. “Don’t you have more help!?”  

Gordon put a hand up in the air toward the customers. “I’m sorry. I’m new here.” He listened to the painful moans and sighs that followed.

A man stepped out of the line and came forward and gruffly threw a 20-dollar bill on the counter. “I don’t have time for this shit. That’s for my gas.”

Gordon stuttered and panicked. “But sir… What pump? I need to know what pump!” But it was too late. The angry man had walked off.  

The dirty woman who was next in line smelled like fresh roadkill roasting in the summer sun. “Give me two packs of Marlboro reds and I wanna get me some lottery tickets, too. What’s them there?” she asked, and she pointed to the smudgy plastic case.

“Which ones do you want?” Gordon wanted to know.

“Them three-dollar ones! Are they new?”

“I’m not really sure, mam. I don’t play the lottery.”

“Well, you work here, don’t ya? How the hell is it you don’t know?”

Just then, another woman came tumbling into the store in a fury. “I can’t get the number 4 gas pump to work. It doesn’t take my card. Why won’t it take my card!? I’m in a hurry.”

Then another woman hauling an unruly, screaming child behind her came up to the counter and wanted to know why there was human waste on the floor of the women’s restroom. “You don’t expect me to take my child in there, do you!?” she wailed. “She’s got to pee! Do you want her to pee on the floor!?”

And yet another came up and complained about a carton of expired milk in the dairy case. And yet another came up and wanted to know why there wasn’t any chocolate donuts in the donut case because he comes here every day and there are usually chocolate donuts. And still another complained about the horrible taste of the orange Fanta that came out of the fountain drink dispenser. Why! Why! Why!

Gordon had finally had enough, and he gritted his teeth and clamped his hands to his spinning and tormented head and triumphantly screamed out, “Fuck all of you!!”

Gordon sat uncomfortably in the small office that smelled like cheese and watched as Alex, recently promoted to assistant manager, filled out an official Pump n’ Jump form.

Alex sighed in disappointment after he signed it and pushed it across the desk for Gordon to have for his personal records. “That’s an official document explaining your termination of employment here at Pump n’ Jump… And to say we owe you nothing.”

Gordon picked it up and looked it over. “Why do I need this?” he asked.

“To remind you of how you failed us,” Alex said. “I hope that you frame it and hang it in a prominent place in your home so that you may gaze upon it daily, and hopefully it will impress upon you the gravity of your loss today.”

“My loss?”

“That’s right. You just threw away the adventure of a lifetime.”

He chuckled. “Are you fucking kidding me!?” Gordon said, and he crumpled up the paper and threw it at Alex’s face. “Everything you told me was a lie! There’s no teamwork here. There’s no adventure. I struggled every moment I was out there, and no one ever came to help me or guide me. Not once. I was never properly trained on anything! You need to take your smiling bullshit and shove it up your ass!”

Alex’s eyes grew wide in disbelief. “Well, it surely appears that I grossly misjudged you, Gordon. I really thought you would be a valuable ambassador for the Pump n’ Jump brand. I’m going to ask you to gather any personal belongings you have and leave the premises. I don’t want your departure to become any more inflamed than it already is… And I’ll need you to return your uniform, after it’s properly laundered, of course… And your name tag. You can leave that with me now.”

Gordon scoffed. “Gladly,” he said, and he unpinned the nametag from where it was attached upon his breast and threw it down on the desk. “You can shove that up your ass, too.”

“There’s no reason for you to be so hateful, Gordon,” Alex sneered. “Or use such revolting language. It’s disrespectful and goes against our core company values.”

“Oh, no? I gave up a promising career in architecture to come work at this shit hole. I have plenty of reasons to be pissed off.”

“You made the choice, so therefore you must accept the consequences.”

Gordon stood and aimed an angry finger at the young, smug assistant manager. “Fuck you!” And he turned and stormed out.

“Don’t expect any kind of a job reference from me!” Alex cried out after him through the open doorway. “You’ll never work for the Pump n’ Jump family ever again!”

Before Gordon left the store for the final time, he snatched the Join Our Team! recruitment poster from its place on the inside of the front window. He carried it outside to the parking lot, threw it on the ground, and stomped up and down on it like a madman until it was dirty and torn. Customers streaming in and out gazed at him in odd wonder.

Gordon stopped to take a breath and to try and calm himself. He looked up to the pure blue sky and laughed out loud. “This will go down as the best day of my life!” he said aloud. Then he looked around at all the eyes gazing back at him. He cheerfully scoffed and walked to his car. He got in, started the engine, and drove away for good, a rigid bird thrust up to the rear-view mirror.


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