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Post-gas station altercation, I muse that fartlek is a funny word no matter how accustomed to it you’ve grown.


I know, I know, it’s supposed to translate to mean “speedplay,” but I suspect that the Swedes – or is it the Germans? I can never seem to keep it straight – are having one over on the running community. Fartlek has to be the biggest language prank outside of those sneaky Chinese symbol tattoos that are supposed to say “strength” and “harmony” but are actually a variation on “gullible moron.”

Next time, bring a literate Mandarin-speaking friend with you to the tattoo parlor.

Aside from it’s fartlek status, today’s run was fairly banal, so I’ll instead relay the slight altercation I was involved in directly before it.

Prior to my run, I find myself at the AirVac corner of a gas station in search of a remedy for the low tire on my car. As I am preparing to use the whatzitmagadget that pumps the air in, a woman in some gleaming, shiny, flashy vehicle pulls up to within a millimeter of my bumper.

Employing all the serenity of a New York City cabbie at a red light – they start beeping at you to GO a good five seconds before the light even turns green, or maybe that’s just me because they see my Connecticut plates and correctly assume that I lack city savvy – fancy car lady rolls down her window, releasing a cloud of cigarette smoke so prominent that I momentarily fear it will billow over and ignite all the gasoline, and screams (yes, screams):

“Are you VACUUMING your car? Because I have a VERY low tire and I need to put air in it.”

Gee, aren’t we impatient, I think to myself. But I give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she’s late for something. Maybe she’s heading to the interview that will make or break her career. Break, I must regretfully but honestly predict, given that the tobacco cloud will nestle stubbornly into the fibers of her clothing, which, given her demeanor, is the least of her concerns.

“No, I’m not using the vacuum. I need to put air in my tire too,” I reply. I offer to move my car so that she can go first. She glares. I offer to go first, take only about a minute to juice up my one low tire, and give her a complimentary go at the remaining air time on the machine provided by my coins. (I find out later from my mom that apparently, in some states, it’s illegal to charge for air at gas stations even though the coin slots are still there. I could’ve saved my quarters for candy machines and toll booths. Pity).

Anyway, lady huffs at me, grumbles, checks her watch, and gives me the evil eye. I give her the benefit of the doubt again. Maybe her sister is in labor at the hospital and she really can’t wait the 94 seconds it will take for me to complete this entire process.

“Would you like for me to move my car?” I suggest again, Mother Theresa-like. “It’s not a problem.”

It is a problem. I’m late for something too. My darn run. LADY.

She scowls, exhales obnoxiously, and replies, still yelling: “No, I guess I’ll just have to DRIVE with it like this.” Then she reaches over across the car to her passenger window, next to which I am standing, and flicks her cigarette ash at me.


Again, I give her the benefit of the-




I’m already in my trainers, so I leap over the hood and ninja-kick her low tire, Nigel de Jong style. 

“Tire pressure looks good to me, jerk!” I shout.

Then I take advantage of the clear line to her face afforded by her lowered window and sock her in the jaw.

Mayhem ensues.

Coincidentally, I’m typing this post from jail.


It was worth it. Time to Shawshank this operation.

Fine, that last violent part with the tire-kicking and face-punching didn’t happen, but if all were within the law, it would have.

Instead, I plied the lady with what I thought was a bland, confused smile which morphed into a passive-aggressive sneer as she drove away. Then I pumped air into my tire, bid the gas station farewell, and zipped off to my running route.

I prefer wordplay to speedplay, so does anybody know any good fartlek jokes? Or appropriate responses to having cigarette ash purposefully flung at me?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 07/23/2010 08:48

    oh the nerve of that woman! i hate it when people thing that their time is more valuable than mine. you were too nice to her though. i’m jealous of that haha

  2. 07/23/2010 09:31

    I’ve been known to suffer a slight inferiority complex in NY with my Jersey plates. I don’t think I’ve ever admitted that to anyone. Wow. Anyway, when I moved out of my parents’ house they gave me a portable air compressor to fill up my tires. Not that I do it with any frequency, you know, but it’s there should I want to avoid situations like yours.

    • 07/23/2010 13:56

      An inferiority complex? No way. I’ve always imagined that NYC drivers see Jersey people as brethren in the realm of Exciting City Driving. Meanwhile, in the boring corner of tri-state drivers, you’ve got Connecticut. The silver lining of all of this is that we don’t have Massachusetts plates.

  3. 07/23/2010 09:47

    UGH. I hate rude people. I usually hold my tongue, but it makes me feel all wretched inside. Have you ever noticed a lot of the time, smokers are assholes? Seems like they’re always the ones who intentionally gas it just to scare me when I’m running on the road. Oh well, the bright side is she didn’t get to fill her stupid tire and she’ll probably die a slow and painful death. 😉

    • 07/23/2010 14:02

      Fo real. On that note, if I’d been blessed with a meaner streak and quicker wit, I might’ve parted with, “No worries lady, with any luck, the flat tire might do you in before the cigarettes.”

  4. 07/23/2010 21:23

    wow. that lady sounds like a miserable person. and you are a better person than me for not socking her in the jaw. because i SO would have. 😉

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