April 26, 2018

LIFE’S TROPHIES, by Brendon Marks


A trophy is an everlasting symbol of one’s conquest over an opponent. The practice started centuries ago when some inedible part of the vanquished foe was lopped off and nailed to the wall over the fireplace. During times when you had no house guests these trophies prove very utilitarian for such activities as drying your socks on damp winter evenings. Trophy collecting has endured in spite of the efforts of several camera manufacturers to replace the activity with “moments frozen in time”. The concept has been modified slightly to allow for those instances where the loser may be reluctant to give up an inedible body part. Bowling leagues would be understandably unpopular if losing meant that you would also leave a slightly smaller footprint due to the loss of yet another toe.

A symbolic trophy is much more civilized. The competitive nature of Man demands that the symbol be awarded and displayed, simply winning is not enough. We’re all familiar with various trophies and what they represent, but Ol’ Roop has a unique example. He got it down near the crossroads a few years ago.

His given name is Rupert. We all said, “Give it back,” and called him “Roop” instead. Roop was an impatient guy. Then his favorite gas station converted to ‘pre-pay’ he grumbled for a month. He considered it a waste of time to make two trips into the station: one to pay and the other to get his change. The old way seemed adequate, he would take what gas he wanted, and then he would pay for it, just like any other retail transaction. Why must it be so complicated? There had to be a better way.

Another annoyance was pump mix-ups. He would pull into the station, note the pump number, and stand in line. When he finally reached the cashier he would discover that someone in line ahead of him already was using that pump, and he would have to make another selection. Or he would pay his money and return to find someone else pumping his gas into their car.

Roop’s solution was simple: He would choose his pump carefully, then place the nozzle in the tank filler pipe before going inside so that everyone knew which pump was ‘his’. He never had another mix-up.

One day it occurred to him to take this idea one step farther. Roop inserted the nozzle in the filler pipe, turned the pump on, and carefully locked the nozzle in the open position. When the clerk reset the pump, it immediately started filling the tank before Roop even left the building.

Knowing that the nozzle would shut off automatically when the tank was full, Roop stood by the gas station door watching the nozzle. When it shut off, he went back inside to collect his change.

Proud of the fact that he had circumvented yet another obstacle in an ever-increasingly-complicated society, he jumped into his truck and drove away, ripping the hose right out of the pump. He had neglected to remove the nozzle from the filler pipe.

Apparently the pump manufacturer had anticipated this possibility, and safety features prevented a catastrophe, but Roop was no longer welcome at his favorite gas station.

A short time later at an event in Roop’s honor, his friends presented him with a special gift: A gas nozzle mounted like a trophy on a sheet of plywood.

It still hangs in a place of honor–in his garage. Good friends never let you forget.

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