[from July 1990]
Remmy pulled into the gas station and jumped out of his pickup. He went to the rear of the truck, checked his reflection in the camper shell window, smiled at himself, and slid the gas nozzle into the tank.
He left the pump on automatic and wandered over to a soda machine sitting next to the cashier’s booth. He calmly, coolly slid a few coins into the coin slot and pressed his selection. Nothing happened. He pulled on the coin return handle. Still nothing. He hit the machine a couple of times with the heel of his hand. Nothing. Finally, he backed up a step or two, checked to see no one was looking and kicked the soda machine.
“Ouch,” he said, hopping on one foot. While he hopped, the soda machine began to smoke, hiss and belch. This was something new. Probably not good, he thought, but something, at least.
The gas station attendant looked up from under the hood of a car at the sound of the soda machine’s convulsions. He was holding someone’s dipstick in his hand. He slowly wiped the dipstick off with a rag, pointed it at Remmy, and shouted something. But Remmy never heard him because that’s when the soda machine exploded.
The force of the blast, plus the fact that he was balancing on one foot, knocked Remmy to the ground. The station attendant dropped the dipstick and started toward Remmy. Remmy saw him coming, picked himself up off the ground and made a dash for his truck.
With the station attendant hot on his trail, Remmy leaped onto his truck’s hood, slid down the other side, opened the door and jumped into the cab — all in the space of about two seconds. His tires were squealing as he pulled out into the street.
A moment later, Remmy heard a clattering noise coming from the side of his truck. It was the gas hose. He’d forgotten to pull it out. He sneaked a peek out the rear view mirror to get a better look at the havoc he had wrought. What he saw through the dirty windows of the camper shell was a blackened soda machine tipped over on its face and, in the foreground, the gas hose writhing on the ground like a wounded snake, bleeding gasoline in every direction.
And Remmy felt bad about this. Guilt consumed him. The ruined soda machine; the inadvertently stolen tank of gas; the bleeding gas hose. It was almost too much to bear. But what could he do? He thought about going back and paying for the damages, but didn’t. He wasn’t feeling that guilty. Financial considerations were always the best defense against guilt.
Wait, what was that he just said? Financial considerations were the best defense against guilt! Of course! It was so simple! And yet, somehow, so profound. Remmy repeated it over and over to himself, “Financial considerations … financial considerations …” He wrote it down so he wouldn’t forget.
Remmy was never the same again. He later formed his own religion.