The guy in front of me was worked up.
In fact, he seemed frantic as he vigorously paced back and forth outside his beaten-up silver sports car, talking into his cellphone with a mad look of panic.
The man couldn’t sit in his car like most of us waiting outside Shell for a promotional opportunity to buy premium fuel for 10 cents a litre in Cloverdale on Tuesday morning.
With a feverish pace, he walked along the long lineup of vehicles off 64th Avenue, talking to the cops and young women in neon vests there to direct traffic.
I couldn’t hear what he was saying to them but I could tell he was raising his voice by the way he was wildly gesturing.
He finally headed back to his car. Along the way, he talked to other drivers if he saw they had their windows rolled down.
“I just almost got arrested,” I overheard him say, offering juicy details of a few fights and other near-arrests farther up the line.
He stopped half-way through his sentence when he saw a black Mercedes SUV cut in front of his own empty car, which was parked in line a few feet away.
“What are you doing lady!?” he screamed. “Get in line like the rest of us!”
The lady ignored him, inching her SUV forward, claiming her spot in line. In the process, she completely blocked the rest of the road off to traffic.
A large truck then pulled up, unable to get by the large mess of cars. The truck driver got out of his truck and approached the SUV.
“I need to get by lady,” the truck driver said, as traffic behind him started piling up.
She ignored him, not wanting to lose her spot in line.
More windows rolled down. More voices yelled. More cars appeared. More horns honked.
I sat there and just watched.
I looked up in the sky, wondering if there was an asteroid heading for Earth that I had yet to see.
No such asteroid.
I looked out to the intersection on 64th Avenue, almost expecting to see a flag girl in a neon vest being rushed by a herd of zombies.
No such herd.
It seemed almost as if the world was coming to an end and people were desperately scrambling to prepare.
But this wasn’t the end of the world. People just wanted cheap gas – no, they needed cheap gas.
It was as if their very lives – and the lives of their families depended on getting cheap gas.
I was stressed and it seemed like my chances of scoring cheap fuel were declining with every manic moment that went by.
I drove away – to another gas station, one far away from the hysteria and absurdity I had just witnessed.
I pulled up to the fuel dispenser, one of only three vehicles in sight.
I paid $80 for my fuel – and as I pulled away, I felt strangely comforted.
Things were back to normal.
And I had a topic for a column.
Beau Simpson is editor of the Now. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.