let nothing ever happen

I pulled in for gas and began filling my tank
and this fat guy dressed all in orange
the attendant
he stood there
and I wasn’t angry at him
he didn’t matter to me
but I thought,
I should really take this gas noozle and jam it
into his mouth and fill him with about five
gallons of supreme.

I filled the tank and hung up the hose.
“what is it?” he asked me.   “is it $13.69?”
“it’s $13.70,” I told him.

I got my change and he watched me as I walked
to the front of my car
kicked the right tire hard
circled the car
got in and drove

it’s when you do it and do it too often
that they put you in the madhouse, I thought,
I don’t want to let myself get

I drove north down PCH and it was all right
until they had these orange blockade markers
narrowing everything down to one
and worse,
here was this blonde boy roadworker
with a beard
tossing a marker back and forth
playing catch
with another blonde boy roadworker
with a board.

hell, I remember when only hermits wore

the single lane to the left was jammed and
not moving and I wanted to make a right
and there was nothing going on in the other
but this game of

I cut into a right lane,
the blonde boy missed his catch.
“hey! what the hell are you doing?”
he screamed as my car glided past him.

I stopped my car and got out.
I walked back to the worker as the other
worker ran up.
“you can’t get in this lane” he said.
“what the hell are you doing?” asked the other
“if a cop were around he’d tag your ass!” said
the first worker.
“are you a cop?” I asked.
Who, you can see I’m not a cop, if I were a cop
I’d blow your balls off!”
“what the hell I’m doing is that I am going to
make a right turn from this lane,”
I said.
“Who the fuck do you think you are?” one of them
asked me.
“I don’t know who I am,” I said, “but I’m going
to get in my car and make a right turn from this
“yeah?” one of them said.   “you can eat my shit

I got in my car, started it up and made a right
turn from that lane.

then I was driving down Rosecrans and I thought,
maybe it’s happening, this thing that I’ve been
fighting against so long.
sometimes I don’t know exactly what the hell I’m
doing even though I pretend I

I felt like driving back and apologizing:   “listen,
fellows, I know I was wrong and I’m here to ask your

or I could go back to the gas station man:   “listen,
do you know that I was thinking of filling you with
five gallons of supreme?   I’m here to apologize.”

no, that would only compound my insanity.

I keep driving along.
I turned my radio on loud to the worst music I could
so that if any of the people in the cars around me
heard it
they’d know that I was just like they were.
by being    careful
I could hide among all of them for

Charles Bukowski
Original manuscript