“Believe It Or Not”

It was just another Saturday afternoon in 1981 working at my Dad’s ARCO gas station, sun blazing down and the smell of spilled gasoline all over my blue jeans. The shore crowd were racing down Route 73 picking up cheap jersey gas and maybe heading to Roger Wilco for smokes and beer. As a 15 year old, I was not the manager most people expected, mostly stocking the cigarettes, candies and magazines and running the lottery machines for patrons feeling lucky. The dream team crew was working with me that day, Steve, Chuck, and, star of the basketball team, Kevin Larson. Most of the guys who worked with me were jerks; guys who might last a few weeks before finding a better job, but Kevin had stuck with it for three years, and he was a real hard worker and all around sweet guy. The other guys left and Kevin and I were there til close. Around 8:30, a few loud high school boys pulled into the station, already three sheets to the wind. They strode into the store and started horsing around. I insisted they pay for their items and leave. Suddenly, the oldest looking one said, “What? You want me to pay for this? (as he swallowed the last gulp of his Mountain Dew) It’s empty! I got gipped. Anyway, I don’t gotta give you nothing, fag.” I turned bright red. I was used to name calling and even being teased about being gay, but at work? This guy was gonna get me in big trouble, if he stole something. Just then, Kevin strode in and told the kid, in a strong voice, “pay for the stuff and get out, or you will answer to me.” Since Kevin was 6’ 2” and could beat the crap out of all three of these dudes, they promptly paid up, apologized and sped away in their car. I started to cry. In an instant, Kevin changed from defender to consoler. “Don’t worry about them….they’re jerks. You’re a heck of great guy, and don’t you forget it. Keep your eyes on the prize….” First time I ever swooned. Thanks, Kevin, for being my knight in shining armor ☺