I want to tell about the guys I work with at the gas station, for they have helped make it a fun (or funny) place to work. First of all there’s the boss, Herbie, a short stocky man from Boston, with a strong accent. It’s his station, so maybe that’s why he gets so “enthusiastic” about it. He helps us, if he’s there during a busy rush, and he is a rush to watch. He runs around yelling at the customers, “All the way UP, pull all the way to the front pump!!” “Whatta ya want?!? The Supa?! (super unleaded) It’ll reach.” When I first saw him doing this, I thought, “I can’t work up that much enthusiasm over pumping gas.” But later I saw that we only act like that when Herb’s around or when we get pissed off at the customers. Anyways Herbie’s not around much. He’s got two guys that are more or less supervisors, Joel and Paul. They make the schedules and do the hiring. Joel works days and he reminds me of a television character. He’s probably in his mid-30s, a little fat, talks with a New York (?) accent and walks with a bowed head and a determined pace. He’s generally pretty serious but he talks more on-the-level with you than Herb does. Paul works mostly second shift and is maybe my age. He’s pretty quiet and serious about the job, but has a good sense of humor.
Now we get into the rest of the guys, the real characters. Konnie, the guy who usually opens in the morning, is a retired guy and says he works there for something to do. He got bored with walking the dog all day and wanted to be with some people. He’s a good guy. And funny, too. He’s got a voice like a combination of Lou Costello and Curly of the Three Stooges. He wears a Shell baseball-style hat that hides his balding head. He’s real easy to talk to and tells stories about the old days, his elaborate sandwiches, people that come into the station, and about anything in general. The regular customers like him and call him by name. He kinda reminds me of my Dad, how he gets along with us younger guys. And then there’s Bob Roundin. Bob is what I would call the male version of a California “valley-girl.” He’s real “energetic” about everything and anything, which has given him many nicknames, such as Rapid-Roundin, Rappin’ Robert. He’s been known to chase cars down the street to dry them off or close their gas-cap door. If someone comes in with a certain kind of car, he’ll talk for 5 or 10 minutes about how some relative of his had a car JUST like it, only it was a different color, year, and/or style. And when he’s telling a story his body sorta emphasizes it by doing a weird Steve-Martin-type dance. And the words he comes up with! Like when I sold him a picture of his car I’d drawn. “That’s STOKIN’, dude!!” or “Hey, that’s killer!!” The guys and I can’t usually remember most of his words, in writing. Even the way he asks people if they want a car wash, usually gets this weird look from the customer, like, “What’s with this guy?!” When I first saw him I thought he’d be fun to talk to and work with but now I’m glad he works mostly days.
The guys I usually work with are Brot, Robert “Bix” Bixle, and Durward. Bix is another slightly crazed guy, or maybe uninhibited is the word. He’s a little older than me, shorter, with hair that doesn’t stay where he puts it. He’s trying to move up in the company by working at an auto-detailing place called Car-Craft, also owned by Herbie. But he’s working more and more at Shell, due to the lack of employees, especially the last 2 weeks I’ll be there because Konnie’s on vacation. He’s in the Bay Area because he wants to get a band going here with the more open music field. He says that more bands play their own music here. Bix is fun to work with. He uncontrollably whistles and hollers at pretty women. Twice now he’s surprised me by pointing out the 1st and 2nd girls he’d had sex with since coming into town. I don’t know if he’s kidding me or not. It’s also funny how he mocks the way Herb yells at the incoming cars, “Move ’em up!!” He recently bought a ‘68 Rover from Herb and had a lot of trouble with it, but he loves it.
Durward is a tall, thin guy with very long thick hair and a beard. He looks like a hippie or a vagabond or a burn-out but he’s really a responsible worker. He works construction week days and at the station on weekends. He just moved here 6 months ago from Colorado, when a friend of his, one drunken night, asked if he wanted to drive out to California, and they did. He’s pretty quiet and drives me crazy with the music he turns on when he works nights. “Long versions” of funky black music. Nasty. Durward surprised me by telling me that he’s only one quarter away from having a degree in Journalism, or an English major. He’s a writer and said he was currently reading “Lord of the Rings” for the 3rd time. This sparked some interest in me, but I found it difficult to talk to him about any of this. He said he lived in his car for a while when he first got out here, and he’s showed me that there are a lot of transients living in Sausalito. An interesting contrast with all the rich folks that live there. But now, to stay away from the ridiculous rules and costs of renting an apartment, he’s renting a room from Brot’s family. Brot is the guy I probably work with the most. Brot is short for Brotten, he said. He is 20 years old and reminds me of your typical high school kid. Aside from the fact that he says he’s working to support his mom and sister. He says he screwed up by failing school last year, so now he’s got to take 12th grade over again, plus work full time. He was heavy into cocaine last year, I guess. Brot and I have a pretty good time working the late shift on the week days ’til 12:00 and weekends ’til 1:00 a.m.
Anyhow, that’s them. I just wanted to describe the crazy crew that works at Sausalito Shell.