I don’t think any one remembers a gas station. Or at least I don’t. No one makes eye contact, people hide in the snack isles looking for their favorite potato chips, multitudes line up for cigarettes, and we avert our gazes to the gas pump screen, rub our phones, or riffle through our wallets.
Everything about a gas station is about waiting: for the tank to fill up, for the cashier to take your order—a break before hitting the road again. It’s like some sort of purgatory: no one wants to stay, someone can’t leave, and there’s usually nothing interesting to speak of. But everyone ends up there at some point or another in some transitional period of living, or maybe in ecstasy or despair, but the gas station doesn’t care either way: it just sort of exists like a landmark or a mountain, patiently stocking its shelves and trading gas for time like an ascetic monk. It doesn’t make anyone’s day, but it doesn’t really ruin anyone’s life either.
I wonder if they’re the last commonwealth—more so than say, national parks, which, lets remind ourselves, are not always wealthy enough for the common, or common enough for the wealthy. But a gas station in the middle of nowhere is very nearly the same as a gas station in a bustling suburban area, and that is almost as similar as an abandoned gas station that still tricks people into its parking lot. Gas stations are perhaps the last places on Earth that everyone, at one time or another, takes a part of, and freely participates in without extravagant emotions or feeling. It’s just another chore, sometimes a minor inconvenience, but no one can blame the gas station, it’s just sitting there waiting. We all bring our baggage there, and cart it away with us. We only make a small impact on it by either taking or leaving some small something’s behind. No one remembers the inside of a gas satiation, unless of course they work there, and even then I’m not entirely sure one can love it and hold it fondly in their heart like some sort of divinity. At least I can’t. It just feels like miles and miles of space.