The Citgo station up on the corner gives a 5-cent (and sometimes higher) discount per gallon if you make your purchase with “cash money,” as the dour bearded gent behind the register first explained to us some months ago.
Instead of having the clerk reset the price from inside, Citgo issues cash-money customers a plastic “cash card” with a magnetic strip that you insert into the credit card slot at the pump to get your discount. When we asked why that was necessary, the bearded gent said something we didn’t understand and then shrugged, as if it were a matter best left to Allah. We were told that the cards were reusable, though, so we’ve been replenishing our original when we stop in to drop some cash money on the Citgo. For some reason ours is decorated with an especially colorful picture of a striped bass that appears to be swallowing some smaller form of aquatic life. Below the fine print on the back is this suggestion: “Protect this card and treat it as you would cash.”
Apparently other, less virtuous customers don’t bother reusing the cards, and they certainly aren’t treating them as they would cash. Today as we were filling our tank we looked down and noticed that the ground around the pumps seemed to be covered with discarded cash cards. We counted 17 of them, then stopped. We were beginning to feel like the Indian chief in that 1970s public-service commercial, the one who stared out at the mountains of garbage covering his native land as a single tear ran down his cheek.