It’s Not Always Progress



And now something completely different. I’m so old, I remember Full Service gas stations. For those. that may not know what I’m referring to, there was a time in this country when, needing gas, I’d pull into a station, someone would come out, and I’d tell him (yes, they. were always guys), what grade and how much I needed. He would then pump the gas. I never left the car. He would also clean my windshield (no squeegee back then – a rag and a spray bottle of glass cleaner)  and also pop the hood and check my oil. That was when gas cost less than 40 cents per gallon.

There may have been a self-serve pump or two for those that were especially in a hurry; I actually don’t recall because I never used it. I sat in my car, comfortable, and someone else performed the task of filling my gas tank. These stations also had at least one(usually two) garages to work on cars as well. Need brakes, oil change, transmission work, or whatever other maintenance was required? Just go to your local gas station. There were mechanics there to take care of most anything you might need done.

The reason I’m bringing this up is that I read an article about pumping gas in New Jersey. It’s actually illegal for a person to pump their own gas in that state – there are fines up to $250 for a first offense, $500 for subsequent offenses. The people that work at the station that do pump the gas, have to go through a one day apprenticeship and receive a certificate to be able to just pump gasoline.  It almost (just almost) makes me want to move to New Jersey as they seem to be the only state tht doesn’t allow a customer to pump their own gas.

This had me thinking about opening up a station where I live, providing that old-time tradition of full service, including car maintenance.  I think it would be a hit here as I live in a small city (around 50,000) that has a lot of retirees here. But it’s not just retirees, think about a mom or dad with kids in the car. Would they be willing to pay a little more for full service? I think it’s possible people would. No amenities other than maybe a machine to get a soft drink, and maybe another for chips and some candy. Of course restrooms – making sure they are very clean all day.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t see this as a trend unless my station started impacting the business of the surrounding self-serve stations. It wouldn’t overall, but I think there would be enough business to make the investment worthwhile. I don’t understand why we don’t see this with any regularity. I have seen stations that do have a full service aisle, but they are few and far between, becoming fewer by the year.

It’s really too bad. Some things in the old days were not as bad as we remember them.


3 thoughts on “It’s Not Always Progress

  1. You forgot the best part about a guy being a gas station attendant; the uniform. We younger gals loved a guy in uniform, you know, and those young and polite young men fit the bill. Even the boys who didn’t have a uniform were totally cool in our eyes.


    • I had an uncle that owned a Gulf station when I was (very much) younger. When I lived in that town, I always filed up (of course!) at his station. He always made sure his employees were dressed appropriately and pleasant to the customers. I wrote this piece because I actually miss those days where “service” meant something.


  2. I grew up in the other state that did not allow self-serve until last year (Oregon), and so I remember this too. While few of the stations had uniformed attendants, it was nice not to have to deal with getting out when the weather was bad. That said, it is hard to imagine paying more someone else to pump my gas if I had the choice.


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