By Jim Sollecito
As we inevitably inch closer to our sell-by date, we might reflect with nostalgia on life the way it was. For me, root beer- and banana-flavored popsicles come to mind. More on that later.
I recall my dad driving our ’57 Chevy to Muserlian’s Texaco station. As Charlie himself greeted us at his own filling station, he stuck the “regular” pump handle in our tank, locked the trigger on and expertly cleaned our front windshield. Of course, he offered to check the oil and made some friendly conversation as he worked. Rounding it up to the nearest dollar as he finished pumping, a purchase of eight gallons or more earned us a cheerfully bestowed drinking glass. I still have those memories and even a commemorative tumbler or two.
Now we can’t change the world — that’s understood. But I sure as heck do not enjoy fueling up at any gas station anymore. Fun fact: a service station operator used to make 5 cents per gallon on fuel purchases and maybe something on a Snickers bar. Currently, the profit is 40-50 cents per gallon. So, the intended business model is for us to fill our large tank, grab a six pack of cold drink, some uninspired pre-packaged food to go, get back in our vehicle and be on our way. This was shared with me by the owner of a very large chain of stations. Now it’s all about self-service, not full-service. And serving the owner’s bank account, of course.
I can manage the self-service part, but my dream was never to have a cheery conversation with talking gas pumps. Moreover, I don’t need Maria Menounos obnoxiously serving up self-help tips while I attempt to fuel up, dodging other vehicles as they zip in and out. Maria reminds me to eat healthy while the video screen is pushing products with enough preservatives to keep a mummy in good shape.
I’ve tried to be more accepting of change. However, instead, I’ve cultivated a state of avoidance. If something or someone does not put a smile on my face, then I simply don’t go there. I avoid live concerts, movie theaters, large crowds, lousy restaurants, rush hour traffic, people that still smoke, gin mills and a host of other places. Days are more important and time is more precious than before.
I do remember back in the day on a hot summer afternoon my mom would open the freezer and bring out popsicles for us five kids. I can still taste that memory. So now at 3 every day in our garden center, we have Popsicle time. We stop our tasks, and have an all-fruit frozen treat; share what’s on our minds. This is followed by The Tossing of the Sticks. Whoever gets theirs into the recycle bin from the greatest distance is proclaimed the day’s champion. Then back to work we go, with a smile.
If you find your day lacks enough uplifting moments, stop by at 3 and join us for a Popsicle. Yes, things do change. But at our place, we still aim for a moment of fun and positive memories.
Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in New York State. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 315-468-1142 or email@example.com.