Today I went to buy gas at the cheapest place I could find near the area I was traveling to. I found it online and had never been there before. The station had four pumps on a single long island with a lane on either side of it. When I pulled in there were cars rear-to-rear on one side and nose-to-rear on the other. The nose-to-rear side had a long line so I maneuvered within a car length of the nose of one car on the rear-to-rear side.
I left the car length there so as to give the gentleman a chance to pull forward and exit the driveway when finished.
Meanwhile, a large yoohall van pulled into that driveway and began to fill the space I was leaving empty so that the gentleman pumping could exit. I hand signaled the driver and met her eyes. She stopped and acknowledged that I was next in line at this pump. So she stayed parked in the driveway/exit and I waited for the gent ahead of me to finish.
Ok, he finished and the car that had been rear-to-rear with his had left so he decided to back out instead. As it happened, there is another car waiting as I have been but at the opposite end of the island. So as I start to creep forward I ask my passenger, "Was that guy there before the yoohall lady?" "Yes," he said, "he was waiting there when WE pulled in." So, instead of pulling forward to the second pump on the island, I stopped at the first, and the gent at the other end pulled in, so there we were nose-to-nose.
Meanwhile, the yoohall lady is, like, right on my ass, and when she sees that I'm not pulling forward to the second pump, she leans on the horn and starts yelling. I get out of the car, walk up to her open window and explain that the car I had allowed to pull in was here before her. She isn't happy but relents.
Now I realize that my car is too far from the island for the hose to reach because the place-where-you-put-the-gas on my car is on the "wrong" side. So as I start to pull forward and toward the island - then intending to back up toward the pump a foot closer - the yoohall lady has stayed right on my ass so when I reverse I bump into her, bumper to bumper, going about 1/16th MPH.
She's now yelling and honking, so I get out of the car, approach her car's open window to explain what I'm doing, and she is already fully ballistic, demanding my license, insurance, etcetera, and I start laughing, not derisively, it was truly ridiculous, and I said, "It's bumper to bumper, no damage, come on out and look." Now I see that she is past agreeing with me on anything, is building momentum, and, to put it plainly, it looked like we were about to be transported onto Jerry Springer's stage for a proper set-to.
It was in the balance. I could quickly ramp up my dudgeon to match hers, or I could walk away. I stayed there about two seconds.
As I walked away, she was still mid-ballistic, and the guy I had allowed to pull in apparently responded to the situation and backed out without having gassed-up. So I pulled forward to the second pump, ignored the yoohall lady who pulled in after me, took care of business and left.
Now, the gas station owners could improve the situation by painting some ENORMOUS arrows on the pavement pointing in opposite directions on each side of the island, but somehow I doubt they will. So this situation has likely played out before, and it will probably play out again, perhaps with less benign results. I won't be back to find out.
My main point is that it was in the balance for those couple of seconds. It's a crossroads from which all sorts of mayhem may ensue. I let someone in the wrong back me down. I did not choose this battle. But with a simple fateful twist things might have inflamed. And God only knows who'd get burned.