gas receipts

Last week en route to the grocery store, I had a terrific story idea. In the parking lot, I scrawled some notes on the back of the closest available paper, a gas receipt, and shopped without fear of forgetting.

(Normally I have a pad/pen with me, btw. It was a casualty of transferring between bags.)

At home I transferred my notes into the computer and tossed out the paper. Why? Because I don’t do anything with the gas receipt after I get the gas. The machine asks me “receipt required? Yes/No” and I tell it yes. I take my receipt and throw it away.

About seven years ago, at the gas station in Angeltown, I pulled up to the pumps, ran my card through the slot, and fueled up. I replaced the pump, got back in the car, and pulled up to the street — and then the gas station attendant came up to me, panicked: Ma’am, you didn’t pay!

I pulled back in, and somehow he proved to my satisfaction that the card hadn’t read properly when I put it through, so I paid, and everything was fine.

But ever since then, whenever I get gas, I tell the machine I want a receipt, just so I can prove to myself that the machine registered my credit card.

Over the past seven years, how much paper have I wasted requesting receipts to insulate myself against the possibility of a card-read failure?

And here’s the other question: how many other ‘gas receipts’ do we all collect in our lives, useless wastes of time and effort and resources, just to ensure that we don’t get harmed by the mistakes of others?


  1. Cricket

    I don’t want to think about it, especially copying receipts for insurance claims and income tax.

    Even more, I don’t want to think about the times I put the copies in my file (to save for 7 years in case of audit) and discovered the copies are incomplete.

  2. Lorraine E. Castro

    Hurray for consciousness! We all waste so much in our lives, endless trees get sacrified. Thanks for making that point!

  3. Cricket

    Then we get the local big city. The parking and traffic fine department sold their overdue accounts. People got calls from infractions 15 years ago, from a very pushy agency (which often broke the rules and called at work and outside permitted hours).

    Many people simply paid, but others found proof that the ticket was wrong and successfully fought the collection. Things like colour and make didn’t match licence plate recorded, or they had proof they weren’t in the city that day. Sometimes they had old cheques and statements to prove they’d paid.

    Unfortunately, electronic statements are easy to forge. One local driving school says digital photos taken at an accident site are no longer useful, since the court knows they’re easy to forge.

  4. amrabouelleil

    I can relate! My story ideas tend to come at times where jotting them down is a hassle. Either I’m half asleep, in the shower, or driving. I’ve gotten into the practice of replaying them in my head until I can get to a computer where I can commit it to hard-drive memory. That way, there’s no paper to throw away.

    How about restaurant receipts? We can’t return what we’ve eaten, unless it makes us sick. So the only reason I can think of to keep them (besides budgeting) is precisely that, to prove that this restaurant’s food made us sick.

    1. philangelus

      Actually, I keep restaurant receipts because sometimes a waiter will go ahead and bump up his tip in the tip line. Your copy of the receipt can be used to show the credit card company and the restaurant that they hired a crook and return your money to you.

  5. Jo

    mmmm. “the gas receipts of life..” ahaha love it.

    I have a crazy habit of trying to read and catalog everything I find interesting. It usually pops up when I’m worried but the pressure of having to do something with all that stuff drives me nuts.

    For instance when my inbox gets full I feel guilty about deleting articles. blaaaaah.

    In short. I feel you gurl. 🙂