Jobs turn regular students into local celebrities

Dave Yochum

Ususual customers can be memorable to workers

Clint Hall, senior philosophy major, has been working at the Speedway in Stow since the fall of 1999. “It seemed like a good idea at the time; not many jobs are flexible with your school schedule,” Hall said. His employment at Speedway has also caused Ha

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Pure disgust and desperation can turn people into celebrities.

Just ask Clint Hall or Michelle Hartsock.

Hall, senior philosophy major, hated everything about working for Wendy’s.

Hartsock, senior English major, needed any job she could get around Youngstown’s unemployment hotspot.

So each took open jobs as gas station attendants.

“I’m a button pusher, the guy who stands behind the counter and takes your money,” explained Hall, a Stow Speedway employee. “When everyone’s out on Saturday night having a good time, I’m the chump that’s making change.”

For both Hall and Hartsock, customers come and go every day. Handfuls of genuine people mixed with flirtatious drunks and local neighbors – some who could probably make small talk an art form. But those stopping for snacks or paying for petroleum aren’t forgetting the faces that greet them and take their money. As it turns out, customers are remembering them rather well.

“I’m recognized and hailed as the ‘Speedway Guy’ at bars around Stow, grocery stores, department stores – everywhere, really,” said Hall. “Those that have taken the time to read my nametag often call me ‘Clint.'”

Henry Tolley, a Speedway customer who worked for the Country Pantry Gulf in the 1970s, is sure he’d recognize Clint if he saw him outside of the gas station.

Tolley said he also recognizes the “two guys from the Streetsboro station,” but laughed, “it might not be what I’d want to be recognized for.”

Hartsock, who works at the Country Pantry Gulf, carries a star status of her own when she heads out for a night in Youngstown. Whether she travels downtown to Cedars or Foxes Den in Salem, people recognize Hartsock and her co-workers.

“They treat us like celebrities in a sense,” said Hartsock. “Even at Ozzfest – I got recognized on the lawn and people bought me beer.”

Hartsock feels the extra attention is flattering; however, she doesn’t want people watching her every move.

“I try not to let it go to my head,” said Hartsock. “Even though the attention is great, I am not my job – it’s not something I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Hartsock agrees with Hall that working as a gas attendant should only be a temporary affair.

“The only reason I still work at the gas station is that I’m using it as an incentive,” explained Hall. “When I finish school, I get to quit Speedway.”

Leading celebrity lives away from the confines of a gas station might appear to make Hall and Hartsock’s jobs bearable, yet each could trade horror stories.

Hall remembered one obviously disoriented customer wandering around the store for 20 minutes while his female co-worker hid in the office.

“A part of his skull appeared to be missing – you could see some red and gray stuff,” said Hall.

Hartsock has encountered movie buffs and women who try to steal from the deli area.

“One time a woman got caught attempting to steal bacon by stuffing it down her pants,” said Hartsock. “A customer also gave a girl I work with a porno because the adult DVD club sent him a video he already had – so he thought she would like it.”

After meeting some of Youngstown’s unique personalities, Hartsock has decided that she is fine with the small talk – as long as customers don’t take it too far.

“There’s always that fine line between friendly customer and psychotic person,” she said. “I would be perfectly content if some people were to never come in the store again.”

Contact transportation reporter Dave Yochum at [email protected]