From the Archive
This Manipulation of God's Religion
Quranic Terminology: Those with Reasoning Mind
About our Pilgrimage Journey to Mecca - PART III
"Wherever You May Be, Death Will Catch up with You, Even if You Were in Fortified Towers..." (Quran 4:78)
Pieces of Advice Addressed to the Palestinians for the Last Time: Regarding What Should Be Done
Fighting the War of Ideas with Islamic Fundamentalists on Their Own Turf – The Only Way for the United States to Win
The Al-Aqsa Rock in Jerusalem Is the Golden Pagan Idol for the Muhammadans
The Divine Omniscience and the Figurative Style within the Quranic Description of the Dominant Lord God's Qualities and Deeds
World Security Begins in Cairo, Egypt
Stealing from the State?!
Answering Al-Qa’da Rascals’ Incitement to Murder Me
PART VII: How the Mortal Prophet and Human Being, Muhammad, Was Ridiculed by Disbelievers
We Are Still on the Shore of the Quranic Knowledge
The Enormity of Hunger Revolts
"...We Do Not Desire the Ignorants." (Holy Quran 28:55)
The Genuine Farthest Mosque Is in the Land of Egypt
Conclusion du livre intitulé ''Une vision coraniste du massacre des deux mosquées en Nouvelle-Zélande"
Ruling without God's Revelation
Unbelievers in the Quranic Context Signifies a Description
The People of Remembrance
Surviving Work

It is Sunday night. I work as an overnight gas station cashier at a Sunoco in Everett, Massachusetts. It is the end of the winter, and everybody is going out to enjoy the beginning of spring, especially after a terrible winter, but I’m going to work. It usually takes me ten minutes to walk from the bus stop to the gas station in the darkness of the night. Car lights are passing me by with loud music and laughs interrupting the darkness from time to time. I think of myself two years ago, how I dreamed of coming the US. Now I’m here, but I’m an overnight gas station cashier. If I were still in Egypt, I would be that person driving the car. Welcome to America.

For a week now, every night, while I’m walking from the bus stop to the gas station, I ask my self: Will this be the night I get robbed again? I start imagining how it would feel to be shot, and how the customers would find my body behind the counter. When I first got hired, I had not been told about the possibility of getting robbed. Lucky me, I watch movies. So when that guy came in last week shouting for the money with a long black, ugly gun in his hand, I told him to help himself, which he did of course. I wasn’t really scared then. I enjoyed calling 911 and talking to the police. The next day, however, I was too scared to go to work. 
Once I arrive at the gas station, my coworker runs out thanking me for coming ten minutes early, “Thank you, buddy. Today is the big night with the girl I have been dating.” Ok. He is also going out. I count the change in the safe, make sure it has three hundred dollars in coins. I count the money in the drawer. Man, he is keeping two hundred dollars in the register. The company’s policy is to keep only seventy-five dollars in the register, so that when we get robbed, the company will only lose seventy-five dollars. It doesn’t matter to them if the guy robbing us goes mad and kills us. No matter what, there shouldn’t be more than the seventy-five dollars in the register. I deposit the extra money in the safe, and start thinking about what to say to the robber when he asks about the rest of the money.
The gas station has a big store. It has three main shelves and a huge cooler. As I stand behind the counter, the coffee machines, the hotdog machine, and fountain machine are on the left. In the middle, there are three long grocery shelves, and all the way at the back is the cooler. Behind me are the cigarette shelves and the medical vendors’ corner. On the counter, there are the lighter stands, which for some reason I take good care of. I usually count the lighters and arrange them by color. I hate it when people come and pick a lighter all the way from the back just because of its color. Why don’t they just pick what is front of them?

It is 11:15, time to clean the hotdog and coffee machines. Oh man, the register is beeping because someone is trying to pump gas without using a credit card. Can’t he see the sign to pay first at night? I run back to the register. Oh, it is Jeff. I wave my hand and I open the pump. Although Jeff is sixty-three years old, he has an athletic body of a thirty-five year old man. His face looks like he is seventy years old, it consists of wrinkles over wrinkles. You can hardly point out his mouth or his nose. He is a construction worker. On my morning shifts, I see him starting his day at 9:00 am and he doesn’t finish until now. We usually talk for more than fifteen minutes every night. He lives by himself, and I think that right now I’m the only friend he has. He opens the door violently, trying to show how strong he is still. “Hey buddy, how are you tonight? Are you still afraid of that white trash? I dare him to come here now; I will beat the shit out of him.” He says. “Although I trust your power and everything buddy, I would rather keep everything as is. We start chatting as usual. His son just called today for the first time in two years, and guess why? He needs money. Yeah, you are right, but did he just remember that now? He won’t get one single penny except when I’m dead.”

It is 1:00 am. Drunken people will start coming now. Here comes the funny part of the shift. A couple in their early twenties is parking their car outside. The man holds the store’s door for his girlfriend, who is trying to pick up something that fell from her purse. I smell the alcohol coming from both clients. “Hi,” I say with a smile on my face. Nobody answers, but I keep my smile. The man says, “I need condoms.”
“What! Excuse me, sir. This is a gas station, not a pharmacy.”
“What do you mean? what about those lifestyle packs over there?” He points behind me to medical vendors’ corner.
“Yes, this is lifestyle. It is not condoms, sir.”
 “Hey, I’m not that drunk. Give me the damn purple pack. Don’t even think about screwing me with the price. I know how much this shit costs.”
I hand him the pack, reading what is written on its side, “Pleasure pack, add some pleasure to your life! Contains ultra sensitive, ultra thin, dual pleasure and lasting pleasure cond… CONDOMS.” For three months, I have been selling condoms without even knowing. I’m selling condoms! How could I do such a thing? Ahmed, the assistant manager, should have warned me when I first got here. I should be even checking people’s Ids before selling them, just like tobacco products. I take all the different color packages and start reading and learning the differences, which was a good way to pass the time.

It is 3:00 am. It is time to sweep the store. Mike should be here at any minute. He is nineteen years old. Six months ago he received a call from his ex girlfriend that they have a baby. Poor Mike had to move from West Virginia to Boston just to be able to see his kid frequently. He dropped out of college and started working two jobs in order to support his child. He tried to get back with his ex girlfriend, but she refused. She didn’t appreciate the sacrifices he made to be with their child. I admire Mike a lot. I usually give him free cappuccino. He comes in, grabs a cup and starts filling it with his favorite French-Vanilla. Although he knows that I will give him the coffee for free, every time he comes, pretends that he is looking for money until I tell him, “It is ok. Don’t worry about it.”

I finish sweeping at 3:30. I should wait for half an hour, then I will close the store, hang a paper on the door from Inside saying, “Sorry, we are closed till 5 am for cleaning. If you need gas, you have to use your credit card.” The company policy is not to let any client in until the floor is dry. At four, I shut off the cooler and open all its doors, so that it will not be very cold when I get inside it to stock the drinks after mopping the floor. I lock the door, hang the sign, and start mopping. Suddenly, I hear very loud and strong knocking on the door. A crazy, drunk young guy is trying to open the door by force. I wave at him explaining that we are closed, but this does not help at all. Through the glass, I still hear his voice saying, “Open the fucking door; I need to put gas in my fucking car.” I point at the sign, he looks at it, tries to grab it, most likely to cut it into pieces, but he realizes that it is on the other side of the door. He keeps knocking on the door, I run to the phone, threatening to call the police. Then, his girlfriend comes out of the car, pulls him inside it, and they leave.

I finish mopping at 4:20. I wait ten minutes until the floor is dry, then I start stocking the cooler. At 4:45, I finish and unlock the door. It is very quiet outside now. I get out by the Windshield Washer stand. There is not a single customer outside by any of the nine pumps. The streets are empty. I just sit outside, enjoying the fresh air, which is mixed with the smell of the gas. I see the big red gas price sign. WOW it is $1.99 per gallon. Who could imagine that gas would be that expensive?

I get back inside. It is also very quiet. I sit on the counter, and start talking to myself. I scream, yell, laugh, and cry. In the beginning it was very hard for me to be alone. Now, I just know how to deal with it. I keep talking to myself until I get a headache and stop. Suddenly, the sound of the refrigerator stops. I never remember hearing this sound until it stops.<
It is now 5 am. I start making coffee for the morning clients, bring out hotdogs and breakfast sandwiches from the cooler. A middle aged white lady opens the door, comes in with her boyfriend, a black boy in his early twenties. She comes straight to the counter. “A pack of Marlboro light box please,” she says with a smile on her face.

“Sure.” I turn around to get the Marlboro, looking outside at the pumps. I see the lady’s image reflected in the glass. She is taking a lighter and putting it in her purse. Then she looks at her boyfriend, smiling. I start boiling. You will never steal my lighter. I turn back, give them their cigarettes, and ring up both the cigarettes and the lighter.

“This is too much for a pack of a cigarette, don’t you think?”

“This is for cigarette and the four inch red lighter in you purse, ma’am.”

“What lighter?”

“Ma’am, when you came in here, there were 10 yellow lighters, 8 blue ones, and 15 red ones. If you count them now, you will find one missing. If you look in your purse you will find it there.”

Her boyfriend then interferes: “It is ok, honey. I will take care of it.”

“It is ok honey, I will take care of it, as if you are paying for it yourself. I gave you the money you have. What do…”

“Ma’am, you can discuss this later. Now, will you pay for the lighter, or put it back exactly where you found it?

“Here you go, I’m only paying to stop this mess, but I don’t know which lighter you are talking about.” I don’t say anything. I give her the change and watch her leave. They get in the car, she is driving, and the guy is too ashamed to look me in the eye.

I can hardly keep my eyes open now. It is 6 am. In thirty minutes, I will break the shift. Time goes very slowly, more slowly than a turtle in a race. The store seems smaller and smaller. The sun is rising so slowly as if someone is pulling it down as hard as he can. The same guy is trying to close my eyes by force, but I resist. My eyes get heavier and heavier, but I manage to keep them open, watch the sun win the fight and rise high in the sky.

Finally it is 6:30, but I still have to wait until the people outside finish fueling before I break the shift. Once I hear the printing sound announcing the sale has been made, I run in the back room to print out the gas report, and I go back to the register. I press the button End Shift once. A message pops. Are you sure you want to end the shift? Hell yeah I’m sure. I press the button again and exchange the two drawers. The shift report starts printing. Once the report is printed, I count the money I have deposited earlier, compare the total of the deposited money and the credit card report with the total sales number. The shift comes out over $1 .
It is 6.55. Where is Hussein? He should be early. I was ten minutes early. He should do the same thing. I expect to be treated the same way I treat others. Besides, the bus will come at 7:12. So it is just about time to leave. Come on, Hussein, please come. There are only three minutes left. Is this his car? It should be, No it isn’t. Hussein you have got to be kidding me man. It is 6:58. You still have to park your car, walk all the way to the store, which will probably take you three minutes. That means I will leave here around 7.01. It is ok. Just come now please. Oh there he is. He is parking all the way in the back of the lot, getting of the car and walking. I start singing like every day for him, “Here comes the bride. All dressed in white.” Although it is 7.02 now and he is opening the door, I’m so happy to be done that I would even hug him for coming. “Asslamou Aliekum Hussein, what’s up?
“Nothing, is ev…”

“Everything is great, Hoseiny, everything is just great. See you tomorrow.”

The views and opinions of authors whose articles and comments are posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of IQC.