Gas Can

Chapter 13  (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)

Cornet Supervisor Who Cried 'Wolf'

Boss Thought I Was $tealing from Him
(Previous Page)

Troublesome Gas Gauge


Joe Peterson's company car had a defective gas gauge, which would stop registering when it hit 1/4 of a tank. Joe was fully aware of this, but would still run out of gas periodically.

If I was with him when it happened, it would be my job to go fetch a can of gas at the nearest station. In fact, I got so that I was very vigilant at keeping my eye on the gauge. As soon as it dropped below the half way mark I would tell Joe it was time to gas up.

A new store was being opened in Lemon Grove (near San Diego) and a couple of cars full of trainees were being driven by Joe and another supervisor to the site. I was in Joe's car, which was in front of the other supervisor's car, as we headed south.

The #5 Freeway was only partially completed in those days, and it was still Hwy. 101 that ran 20 miles through Camp Pendleton, as it connected San Clemente in Orange County to Oceanside in San Diego County. Even though the 20-mile stretch through the US Marine Base has since become an 8-lane Freeway, it is still a 'no-man's-land' that has neither gas stations nor eateries along the route.

Stuck in the Middle of Nowhere

Anyway, we had gotten about 10 miles south of San Clemente, when suddenly Joe's car sputtered and came to a stop. Joe and I knew immediately what had happened, but the others wanted to know why we had stopped.

"You forgot to watch the gas gauge," Joe admonished me, as he opened his door to get out of the car.

"Guess I did," I acknowledged. "I was busy talking to the guys here. Sorry."

"Well," Joe said, as he stood alongside the car, "Paul will be here in a few minutes—and he can arrange to get us some gas."

Sure enough, a few minutes later Paul Gann's car could be seen coming over the horizon as it headed our way.

Naturally, he pulled over and stopped to see what the problem was.

Joe walked around to the other supervisor's open window and said, "It's my gas gauge, Paul. It doesn't work right. It says we have a quarter of a tank of gas—but it's actually empty."

Mr. Gann looked over at our car, mentally surveyed the situation, and then turned back to face Joe.

(Pardon my language here, but these were his exact words, as he turned the key to his ignition and drove off in a cloud of dust):

"Right. Well, piss on you, Joe."

For the first time since I'd known him, Joe Peterson was speechless.

Of course we all angrily told Joe that his "crying wolf" had to catch up with some day—and it finally did.

Good Samaritan

Anyway, about ten minutes later Mr. Gann returned, saying that he waited just beyond the next hill—and that when we didn't come—he finally concluded that Joe might have been telling the truth (for once in his life).

Well, by the time he drove to a gas station and back with some gas, and waited while Joe pulled into a station in Oceanside to finish tanking up, we arrived in Lemon Grove nearly an hour late.

I really don't know if Joe ever pulled any more practical jokes after that or not. As fate would have, I wouldn't be with the company a whole lot longer.

In Trouble with My Boss

Joe Cornet Jr. fired me one day—but not because of the incident I'm about to relate.

Expensive Carelessness

I have always been careless about keeping track of my money. It's just that I've always had more important things on my mind than knowing whether I had deposited my last paycheck or if I have any cash in my wallet.

One day I went looking for my most recent paycheck, and couldn't find it. I felt embarrassed about telling my boss that I'd lost it, and asking if I could have a replacement—but I was flat broke (as was not uncommon for me). So I bit the bullet and went and pleaded my case to Joe Cornet Jr.

Understanding Boss

"Okay," he said, "but if somebody finds it and cashes it, you'll be flat out of luck."

"Of course," I agreed, "and if I find it, I'll bring it in to you immediately. I've already gone to the bank to put a 'stop-payment' on it."

"Well, those 'stop-payments' don't always work, you know. Just keep looking and let me know when you find it."

"Yes, sir!" I agreed, as I happily accepted the replacement check.

Well, it must have been four or five months later when I was rummaging through the pockets of the clothes in my closet. I don't remember now what I was looking for—but, to my amazement, I found an uncashed paycheck in one of my coat pockets.

And, yes, I had completely forgotten about my soliciting a replacement for a lost paycheck a few months earlier. So I assumed this was just a check I had somehow overlooked (which is very easy for me to do)—and went out and deposited it.

(Continued in Next Column)

Told to Report to My Boss

A few days later, when I arrived for work, I was told that Mr. Cornet Jr. wanted to see me in his office.

Pat (Mr. Cornet Jr.'s secretary whom I was dating at the time) gave me a worried look as she told me to go on in.

As I entered his office, Mr. Cornet Jr. leaned back in his chair and gave me a scrutinizing look.

"Do you like your job here?" he asked.

"Yes, sir!" I replied. "Very much!"

"Do we treat you well?"

"Yes, sir," I said again, now beginning to wonder what was going on.

"Have I ever treated you unfairly?" he asked, in almost a hurt tone of voice.

"No, sir. Never," I replied, now beginning to get worried that something was seriously wrong.

Puzzling Question

"Then how could you do this to me?" he asked.

I was speechless, as I tried to think of anything I had done that might have displeased him.

"Excuse me?" was all I could say.

Then he handed me a cancelled check and asked if the signature on the back was mine.

I looked at the signature and agreed that it was definitely mine. "But I don't understand," I finally said, as I handed the check back to him.

"Didn't you come to me a while back and tell me you'd lost your paycheck? And didn't I give you another one right on the spot?"

Suddenly it was all becoming clear. I gulped and asked, "Are you saying this is the lost check—and that I went ahead and cashed it anyway?"

He handed the check back to me and said, "The evidence speaks for itself."

"Omigosh," I said. "I see now what happened."

"I'm listening," he said.

Well, I went on to explain the whole thing to him and how it was just an honest mistake, albeit a very stupid one.

"You expect me to believe that?" he asked, almost casually.

"Well, sir, it's true," was all I could say.

He just sat and looked at me without revealing whether he believed me or not.

So I said, "If I really wanted to steal from you, Mr. Cornet, wouldn't this be a pretty stupid way to do it? I mean—saying you lost a check and then cashing it is something one would obviously get caught at."

I went on to say that I'm really not that dumb and if I wanted to steal from the company, there are lots easier ways of doing it.

This made him sit up in his chair and lean across the desk.

"What easier ways?" he demanded.

I began to think this was not the right thing to have said, but now had to continue.

"Well, everybody knows you can short-change a register or smuggle merchandise out of the store."

"What do you know about short-changing?" he asked, as he got to his feet. "Have you ever done it?"

(This is a scam by which someone charges a customer the full price of an item, but rings up a lower amount and puts the difference in his/her pocket. It works best, I've been told, with customers who are unlikely to ask for a receipt.)

"No sir, I have not! But I've heard it talked about."

Had to Get This Resolved!

Now I decided it was time to settle this once and for all.

"Look, Mr. Cornet," I said, "I made a mistake, and you will correct it by docking my pay. However, if you truly believe I was trying to steal from you, then there is no reason for my being here any longer. I'll just leave now and say it was nice working for you. So I need to know whether you believe me or not."

Mr. Cornet sat back down and gave me a long look.

"Well, it was an awfully dumb thing to do," he said.

"Yes, sir," I agreed. "It certainly was. And I do apologize for the inconvenience and consternation it has caused you."

"Hmmmm," he finally said. "Okay. Get out of here—but don't let it ever happen again."

"No, sir!" I promised. "Never again! I will be more careful with my paychecks in the future." Patricia.jpg

I gave Pat a reassuring smile as I left the office. She smiled back and threw me a kiss.

However, I eventually did get fired. But that's a whole other story.

(Next Page)

Don Edrington's Home Page     Shy Guy from Hollywood High     Brief Bio   All Stories

Ch.1 Alameda - Los Angeles 1939-40   Ch.2 Echo Park 1943   Ch.3 Virgil Jr Hi 1944   Ch.4 Le Conte Jr Hi 1945-46   Ch.5 Gower Gulch 1946
Ch.6 Hollywood Hi 1946-47   Ch.7 Drop Out 1948   Ch 8 Norma Jean Salina 1948   Ch 9 Fort Ord 1949   Ch.10 Fort Belvoir 1950
Ch.11 Korea 1951   Ch.12 Back to Civilian Life1952   Ch.13 Cornet Stores 1953   Ch.14 Puerto Rico 1955   Ch 15 Signs by George 1956
Ch 16 Mexico 1958   Ch.17 Fullerton 1960   Ch.18 Fallbrook 1973   Ch.19 Costa Mesa 2000

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