Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review: Code For Failure

Read 2/12/12
4.5 Stars - Highly Recommended to readers who don't mind getting a little grease under their nails
Pgs: 255 (eBook format)
Publisher: Black Coffee Press
Release date: March 27th, 2012

"Don't ever get comfortable here," ... "This place will steal your soul."

I'm about to admit something that you may end up holding against me. Although I bet you are guilty of the same exact thing, so just go ahead and hold that mirror up against yourself before you get too judgy... ok?

I've always kinda felt sorry for the people who work at gas stations. There. I've said it. But I've also spent a college semester working at one for some extra cash, so I do have some personal experience here too...

I feel like they must've been handed an awfully raw deal to end up pumping gas and handing over cigarettes at some mini-mart. Surely they didn't set their sights on this sort of occupation when they were younglings, right?

An imagined conversation - (Stranger): So, Mack, what do you want to be when you grow up? (Mack): I want to be a gas station attendant, sir!

Or, if this was their choice and not some cruel hand the world had dealt them, they certainly had set very low expectations for themselves and didn't count "initiative" among their top priorities in life.

Another imagined conversation - (Stranger): So, how'd you end up here? (Mack): Well, I wanted a job where I could just roll outta bed, throw on a uniform, and not have to think for 8 hours. Plus, I secretly kinda dig the smell of gasoline!

While reading Ryan Bradley's upcoming release and debut novel Code for Failure, though, I started to see things a little bit differently. I mean, sure, the pay is pathetic and the hours suck. You gotta deal with know-it-all assholes and people who don't even acknowledge you. But if the guys pumping my gas are seeing half as much action as Ryan claims they do, they might not have it so bad after all.

Let me break this down for you. Ryan's narrator is a college drop out who takes up a position at the local gas station. He's almost perfected the multi-pump (his station's pumps can't be set to stop at a certain dollar amount for those who require anything less than a "fillerup"), works for a boss who seems like a half decent dude, and doesn't seem phased by the high turnover rate of his co-workers. He keeps his head down and his nose clean and without really trying, he secures himself the Assistant Manager's position in no time - along with its measly 5 cent raise and a shit ton more responsibility.

There are women who come into the picture, and out of the picture, and sometimes back into the picture (and when that happens, it's never a good thing, trust me)... So many women overall that I just want to run up to this guy and pat him on the back for a second, with a knowing smile, before giving him the number to an STD specialist. For someone who's not exactly thrilled with his station in life, he's certainly found a way to make the most of it!

The story is told in a series of short chapters - ranging anywhere from a few pages to a mere paragraph or two - and reads like lightening. After downloading the book to my smartphone I sat down on the couch and, without meaning to, managed to read the entire thing in a matter of hours. The chapters practically encourage you to keep reading... taking you from moment to moment in our narrator's career as a gas station attendant cum grease monkey cum ladies man... and before you know it, you've read the entire thing in one sitting and you're running to the bathroom to pee for the first time in hours (and possibly to take a shower too).

On the surface, it's certainly a fun, insanely honest read that will leave you feeling slightly dirty. If you're anything like me, you'll be dying to know just how much of this stuff was pulled from Ryan's own experiences during his gas station days. Then you'll realize that it's probably better that you don't know.

But even deeper than that, it's an ugly-duckling-turned-swan sort of story that exposes the darker human struggle - sex and drugs and all of the temptations in between - and our deeply ingrained need for companionship.

You're guaranteed to never look at a gas station attendant in the same way ever again.


  1. Working at a gas station can be more creative than working in a cubicle.

    1. No doubt. Pumping gas isn't even anywhere near the worst couple jobs I've had!