Tric Kearney: I'm like my phone - ancient, slow and running out of memory

Tric Kearney recounts an embarrassing moment in a petrol station on the M50

They say people often resemble their pet dogs. Well, I think I’m beginning to resemble my phone, ancient, slow and running out of memory. I suspect there are two men in a service station on the Cork to Dublin road who might agree. However, in my defence, I was sleep deprived. Thank you, Netflix.

My journey had not started well as I’d sat for an hour on the M50, which was closed both ways, due to an incident. Glad to be on the move, and hoping whatever it was that had delayed us was not life-threatening, I thought I’d fill up with petrol rather than risk running out.

Pulling into the station, I groaned. All pumps were busy except the ‘pay at pump’ one, which was of no advantage to me as I needed to stock up on sweets for the journey.

Flicking open my petrol tank, I stared at the pump. This wasn’t the straightforward one I use regularly in Cork. My tired brain struggled to understand what it was telling me to do.

Lights flashing on it instructed that I, ‘Put in card’, but the picture of which way to put it in was most confusing. I took my chances and was alarmed when it swallowed it whole. Moments later it asked me for my number so I assumed all was well. Finger at the ready I paused, my mind blank. What was my number? Thankfully, ignoring all advice, I’d stored it on my phone — don’t tell anyone.

How much petrol do you want, was the next question. I pressed €50 by mistake and tried to cancel it but the machine was not in a forgiving mood. ‘Start filling’ it insisted, without a please or thank you.

I removed the green hose before quickly realising it was the one for the more expensive petrol. Not fully believing it is any better than the cheap one I replaced it and reached for the other one.

Unfortunately, this machine had no time for indecisive people and in a fury, it refused to give me petrol of any sort.

Stomping into the shop, my weary brain not able for this hassle, I asked the young man behind the counter for help. He was about the age of my own children and it was clear to see he wasn’t impressed with the ‘oul one’ who couldn’t work the machine.

“Give it a minute and try again,” he said politely.

“Thank you, but it’s also swallowed my card. Will it give it back?”

I could tell by his mouth opening and closing that this information had put him in a bit of a spin. “I’ll get someone to check it out,” he said.

Man Number Two arrived, possibly days older than number one. He couldn’t have been more helpful although alarm bells rang for me when he sighed deeply and suggested I get myself a cup of tea.

Five minutes later he returned to the shop to consult a rather large folder.

“At least you’ll be an expert by the time you’re finished,” I smiled, biting into a croissant which flaked all over my top.

“I just can’t understand it,” he said, flicking through pages. “There’s no sign of your card in the machine.”

Man Number One and I shared a look of alarm.

“You sure it didn’t come out,” he whispered across the counter.

“Absolutely positive,” I replied showing him my empty wallet in which, clearly visible, sat my missing Visa card.

“Oh no! I’m so sorry. I don’t remember taking it out of the machine,” I spluttered as Man Number One roared with laughter. Man Number Two remained speechless.

Beating a hasty retreat, I drove off without petrol. A few miles down the road I suddenly remembered — I’d not paid for the croissant.


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