On Gas Station Convenience Stores

I always had a slight fascination with gas station convenience stores.

People don’t go to gas stations because they really want to. Sure, people aren’t being literally dragged to them, but if your car is running out of gas, you have to go to a gas station. Maybe you have a few to pick from. Maybe you don’t. It doesn’t matter, the end result is you, in a gas station, buying gas.

Nobody’s going to a gas station for sightseeing, either. Sure, if they’re by a tourist trap, tourists will be there, but they didn’t come to see their top of the line Slurpee machine. As far as the whole convenience store bit goes, people don’t go for low prices, great selection, or high-quality product, they go because it’s convenient. Unlike the “super” in supermarket, the name “convenience store” is accurate.

All this serves to make gas stations a sort of magical place. Think about it, if you were going to say, hide an underground bunker, a gas station is the perfect spot. I mean, people want to minimize time spent in a gas station, not maximize it. Nobody’s going to search for the thing. You could hide anything in a gas station, nobody would care.

That said, gas stations follow a strict pattern of uniformity. If I went into a gas station convenience store and saw a carton of fresh apples, I’d notice. If it was a mom and pop establishment, sure, but an AM-PM? That’d be quite the aberration. If one switched the mini donuts with baguettes, why, I’d be beside myself. Say “gas station convenience store” to a group of a hundred people and ninety-nine of them will have the exact same image in their head, bar a couple of quirks.

I mean, let’s try an example out. Glass door opens to a speckled white floor, receptionist counter on one side, the refrigerated section on the opposite side. Shelves line the walls, with an additional partition or two in the middle. Maybe a freezer by the counter holding individual frozen desserts. Klondikes, ice cream bars, some sort of horrible caramel-pecan lump of sugar. Maybe there’s a rack of candy bars there instead, same difference, they’re both equally likely to be out of date. If you’re unlucky, maybe there is some glass box on the counter holding corn dogs. Maybe you can hear someone filling up a drink. You can see a variety of packaged snack products reflecting the cold light. I always tend to think of convenience stores in a night-time setting, but maybe that’s just me. Outside the store, past a stack of firewood, the high lights glare down on people filling up their cars.

What you didn’t envision was the door behind the clerk’s counter. Maybe it blends in with the color of the wall. Silver knob, maybe a poster on the door advertising the lotto. Probably just a closet. You’d have no idea that if you opened it, it would lead to a secret underground bunker. Maybe you wonder about it, seeing as you just read about the possibility, but you quickly relinquish the thought as you return to your home and get some sleep.

Yeah, well, there’s probably not a bunker under your neighborhood gas station convenience store, and I’m not recommending people pester the clerk about it either. I mean, you think the owner would even tell them about it? They’ve probably never been in there either.

Of course, who’s to say the bunker is any business of yours at all? Maybe what you think of as a bunker is just somebody’s expanded storage container. Maybe it’s totally empty. I mean, who’d really build a bunker in this day and age? Sure, sure, nuclear threat’s still a thing, but I was always under the impression that people didn’t really care about that kind of thing anymore. In a world where mankind’s extinction seems more and more guaranteed, people are likely to worry about the method and the date less and less.

However, if we go on the hypothesis that the gas station does have a survival bunker, I’d be concerned if the owner knew something I didn’t. Maybe there’s another gas station nearby that’s storing a nuclear missile. Maybe there’s an entire cold war going down between gas stations all over the country. The world, even. It’s impossible to say, I’m definitely not going to walk around gas stations with a Geiger counter anytime soon.

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