Driving across the country, we took a quick detour into Michigan off of I-90. We stopped at a gas station to fill up. As we pulled up to the pump, Jonathan noticed that the handle was topped with a plastic bag. “Looks like this one’s closed.”
Oddly enough, all the pump handles were covered with plastic bags. The guy from the car in front of us came up to our truck and tapped on the glass. “Pumps are closed,” he said. “I used this one anyway, and they came out and told me they were bagged off for a reason. Guess it works, but they don’t want you to use them.” He shrugged. “Cheapest place around, though.”
Strange. We thanked him, and headed into the station to find out if we could use the pumps. “Excuse me,” I said to the man behind the counter. “We noticed that the pumps are covered with bags. Are any of them open?”
“Computers are down,” he said. “Can’t take credit cards. Sorry.”
“We can pay cash.”
“We can’t control the systems. Computers are down. Sorry. No gas.”
As we drove away, we saw that all twenty of the gas pumps were covered with plastic bags. “Every gas pump must be an autonomous point-of-sale system,” commented Jonathan. “That gentleman in front of us was able to fuel up, presumably with a credit card. What was offline was the store’s ability to communicate with the sales systems.”
We drove back onto the highway in search of another gas station, our money burning holes in our pockets.