“Mr. Blue Sky”

The line to fill up your tank stretched about a half mile down Route 73 as my brother waved a 72 Chevy Impala up to the entrance of Dad’s ARCO station. Even at 11 years old my brother had developed the skills to interact with customers on the strict odds and evens gas rationing laws. It was 1979 and the US was in the midst of a full on energy crisis due to oil price increases. If your car’s license plate ended in an odd number you could get gas on odd numbered days like March 17th and vice versa. This made for a helluva lot of angry people trying to fill up and much panic buying. Somebody had to police the lines of cars and me and my brother accepted the challenge. “Uhhh, sorry, ma’am, today is June 9th and your license plate ends in 4, I’m sorry, you’ll have to come back tomorrow.”
“Listen, kid, I’m on e and I just need 5 dollar’s worth to do my food shopping”, said the middle age house wife with huge Ray-Ban sunglasses on. “I’m sorry, ma’am, no can do.” “This is a total bunch of crap! I only need 5 dollars, c’mon! I’m not taking this from a little kid!” My brother kept his cool, lowered his voice and calmly said to the woman, “if you’d like I could call the police let you explain it to them? Would you like that?” And with that comment, the woman peeled out of the gas station. Still, life at the ARCO wasn’t always difficult. Dad had rigged a rather loud stereo system outside for all to hear the booming easy listening muzak of songs like “Lollipops and Roses”, music so cheery and fake sounding that it caste an odd irony over the heated surroundings. But, as soon as Dad left the building to run an errand, we changed that radio station to MAGIC 103 or some other Top 40 station. The music motivated us all to work harder and even have some fun. Just as The Ohio Players “Love Rollercoaster” finished playing, E.L.O.’s “Mr Blue Sky” started up. We danced around the gas pumps, cleaned peoples windows with squeegies, and even managed to make some tips. It was the worst of times, it was the best of times!