Last week en route to the grocery store, I had a terrific story idea. In the parking lot, I scrawled some notes on the back of the closest available paper, a gas receipt, and shopped without fear of forgetting.
(Normally I have a pad/pen with me, btw. It was a casualty of transferring between bags.)
At home I transferred my notes into the computer and tossed out the paper. Why? Because I don’t do anything with the gas receipt after I get the gas. The machine asks me “receipt required? Yes/No” and I tell it yes. I take my receipt and throw it away.
About seven years ago, at the gas station in Angeltown, I pulled up to the pumps, ran my card through the slot, and fueled up. I replaced the pump, got back in the car, and pulled up to the street — and then the gas station attendant came up to me, panicked: Ma’am, you didn’t pay!
I pulled back in, and somehow he proved to my satisfaction that the card hadn’t read properly when I put it through, so I paid, and everything was fine.
But ever since then, whenever I get gas, I tell the machine I want a receipt, just so I can prove to myself that the machine registered my credit card.
Over the past seven years, how much paper have I wasted requesting receipts to insulate myself against the possibility of a card-read failure?
And here’s the other question: how many other ‘gas receipts’ do we all collect in our lives, useless wastes of time and effort and resources, just to ensure that we don’t get harmed by the mistakes of others?