The Difference Between Reality and Perception

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I want to tell you a funny story. There is a gas station/mini-mart about a half mile up the highway from my house. I frequent it every week or two, but not to buy anything. Are you kidding me? Do you know how much they want for a box of frosted flakes?

And the gas— give-me-a break! You won’t find higher prices anywhere in town. Nevertheless, it is one of the few convenience stores that I have to say I am honestly grateful for, even if the owners cannot say the same for me.

I do feel guilty though. Oh, it’s not what you think— I’m not a thief, at least not in the standard sense of the word. I simply take full-advantage of the restroom facilities that are offered to paying-patrons, even though I’ve already established the fact that I am not one of those.

I’m not a bum, either, just a long-distance runner, who knows the whereabouts of every Sani-Hut, park lavatory, and high-priced gas station/mini mart along my route. The first two-mentioned places, I can go into without question, whereas with the latter, I tend to feel a little conspicuous. I always have a disclaimer.

“Yeah, I just filled my 30-gallon tank with your gas…”
I don’t really say that. That’s the dialogue I convey to the counter-persons telepathically, as I pass them on my way to use the facilities. I know what they’re thinking— “If that woman didn’t just fill up with gas, then she better be buying a box of frosted flakes.”

I have no reason to think any of this, since the employees have always greeted me with a friendly, “Hello.” (Obviously, they assume the RV at the pump is mine and I just filled the tank). Still, I’m always afraid that I’ll be confronted and told that the mini-mart associates are tired of my kind coming in to their place of business and not buying anything. Then they will tell me they have hours of surveillance video showing me walking in—walking out, without ever exchanging money or goods.

I realize this is all silly thinking. The people behind the counter don’t care if I use their restroom…do they? I knew I had to stop this fear-based thinking, since I believe that our thoughts create our reality. I began to change my thinking to reflect only positive thoughts. Unfortunately, it was too late for that.

My worst fear manifested on one ill-fated day. I had to go for my run early, before the sun came up. In fact, it was still dark, when I approached the mini mart/gas station to use the facilities. Since I was the only “customer” walking in at that hour, I was especially conspicuous.

“Good morning,” the store manager said, even holding the door open for me. Then, “I hope you have money.”
Busted! I couldn’t believe it! THIS WAS EXACTLY WHAT I WAS AFRAID OF! A quick glance at the pumps told me I could not use the standard; I’m filling my tank speech. Clearly, I’d reached the end-of-the-line, and it was time for my comeuppance.

“Excuse me?” I asked.
“System’s down,” the manager explained, “I can only do cash transactions.”
“Oh,” I said, and then told him the truth. “Well, since I only have my credit card, I guess I’ll just use the restroom and buy my frosted flakes at another time.”

The manager offered a rueful smile, and then apologized for inconveniencing me.
That concluded in a way I couldn’t possibly have imagined.