Self-serve gasoline in the USA - update
January 6, 2018 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Oregonians arent pumped about the new law allowing self-service gas.
Many ... criticized Oregonians for not wanting to or not knowing how to pump their own gas.

"Man. It's like those people in infomercials who can't perform menial tasks," one man wrote on a Facebook post. " 'Do you have trouble pumping your own gas?' *guy grabs pump handle and sprays himself in the face* 'Then do we have a state for YOU!' "
In Oregon's defense, it is also one of the few states (along with Alaska, Delaware, Montana, and NH) which don't do the annoying sales tax add-on. Meanwhile, Why can't you pump your own gas in New Jersey?

Note to those elsewhere, "gas" is how Americans refer to gasoline. Other English speakers may call this fuel "petrol."
posted by Rash (104 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is becoming SO tiresome...could someone please just once come up with a headline that isn't disingenuous and clickbaity about this?

The law allows for self-serve gasoline in the middle of nowhere, rural places where otherwise the station would probably just be closed and you'd be out of luck, and in the middle of the damn night. Yet everyone is sharing funny pictures of people in suburbs and cities, in the middle of the day, and it's getting old.

Yes the law is stupid, everything about self serve gasoline in Oregon is stupid, but can we stop being misleading on purpose just for the lulz?
posted by trackofalljades at 9:10 AM on January 6, 2018 [31 favorites]


I thought the goal was to protect jobs, which is noble, but loosen the restrictions in areas where there is a shortage of min wage workers?
posted by Beholder at 9:15 AM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


"In Oregon's defense, it is also one of the few states (along with Alaska, Delaware, Montana, and NH) which don't do the annoying sales tax add-on."

I'm not sure what that has to do with their (in)ability to pump there own gas.
posted by jonathanhughes at 9:18 AM on January 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


You did not perform self-service properly.

You have died of dieseltery.
posted by pyramid termite at 9:23 AM on January 6, 2018 [69 favorites]


It's times like this that I remember my high-school Psychology teacher's words: "Change is disruptive"* I'm pretty sure most people will have no trouble learning to pump gas - I mean, it's not rocket surgery - but the changeover process will be noisy, in no small part due to the clickbaity way it's being presented in the press.

*He had a wonderful way of driving that point home - after letting everyone sit wherever they wanted for the first week of class, he instituted a seating chart...naturally we all objected, to which he replied, "See? Change is disruptive!"
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:28 AM on January 6, 2018 [9 favorites]


I swear that half the reason that my sister will never move from New Jersey is to keep from having to pump her own gas.
posted by octothorpe at 9:29 AM on January 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm happy to pump my own gas, but I know many people who would be thrilled to pay a little extra for someone else to do it for them.
posted by freakazoid at 9:33 AM on January 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


Until I moved to Oregon in my 40's, I'd been pumping my own gas all my life and never considered it a big deal. In fact, when I first moved here (carless, by the way) I rented a truck to go pick up all my stuff I'd shipped ahead. When I went to refill the tank afterward, I didn't let the attendant do it for me because I thought it was going to be some sort of scam, like he would demand a tip or something. It was only later I realized what a faux pas I'd made.

So maybe it's just me that isn't experiencing the existential dismay that some people seem to be, who have never pumped their own gas, and therefore I cannot be a trustworthy spokesperson for native Oregonians. Still, though, the whole thing seems overblown.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:48 AM on January 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


It isn't hard to pump gas, but you do need to learn how to do it. New machines usually have directions, but not older ones. I remember being worried when I first had to, because no one ever showed me how and I didn't know if there was a trick or something.
posted by jeather at 9:50 AM on January 6, 2018


I don't think it is stupid that you cannot pump your own gas, I think it is fantastic. I don't care for the "Slow" movement (slow food, slow TV etc.) but I do enjoy Slow Gasoline. It is just more civilized. There is a big streak of antisocial in society and I think most people like to pump there own gas because than they don't have to interact with anyone they might not like, kind of like online shopping or automats. I think it is a little paradoxical when I come across people who grouse about the disappearance of jobs or advocate UBI and unions who then proceed to get agitated about gas pumping in Oregon and say things like, "well If I could save a few bucks I'd rather pump my own gas," or, "Its so slow." I mean its pretty simple, do away with the law and poof you just eliminated jobs and put money in the pocket of capital.
posted by Pembquist at 9:51 AM on January 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


Today they want to pump their own gas, tomorrow they'll want to shine their own shoes, deliver their own milk, iron their own newspapers, dial their own telephones, and before you know it half the country is out of work.
posted by sfenders at 9:59 AM on January 6, 2018 [26 favorites]


I lived in states where I had to pump my own gas; I moved to Oregon and someone else pumped my gas; I moved away and I pumped my own again. This is such a non-issue in my experience, and that of my Oregon-based family. States pass similarly limited laws every day, but this one allows people to pick on liberals* so it makes the news.

*Not actually liberals since it mostly affects the libertarian-filled rural areas.
posted by tofu_crouton at 10:02 AM on January 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


Hot take: Full-service gas stations are a relic of car-centric American culture that says having a car means you're a higher class of person that deserves to be waited on. This reinforces the notion core to American car culture that private automobiles and the people that drive them are superior to other forms of public transit and the people that use them. Full-service gas stations should be relegated to the dustbin of history.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:03 AM on January 6, 2018 [38 favorites]


When I was a wee teenager I worked at a service station with 8 pumps and one of them was full service, so if someone pulled up there one of us had to go out. It was almost invariably older people who may have trouble getting in/out of cars, or widows who had never pumped gas because their husbands always did it.

You want to talk mass confusion, while I worked there we installed credit card readers at the pumps. I was happy because I wouldn't have to use the old fashioned carbon copy thing anymore. But in the short term it was more labor intensive because we had to teach dozens of people how to use them so I was running outside every 10 minutes. About half the customers refused and came in to pay (this was before you had to pay in advance).
posted by AFABulous at 10:05 AM on January 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


Hot take: Full-service gas stations are a relic of car-centric American culture that says having a car means you're a higher class of person that deserves to be waited on.

i worked at a self-serve convenience store/gas station for nearly 10 years - trust me, people are going to act like entitled assholes anyway - even if they don't have a job, they'll often act like that
posted by pyramid termite at 10:07 AM on January 6, 2018 [12 favorites]


Here in Indiana, we've had self-serve gas since, I think, the '70s. Or, at least, that's when the trend began. Once self-serve became the norm, it was quickly followed by the total demise of the "service station" where you could get an oil change and minor service done as well as tank-up.

One of the big changes in self-serve here was the switch to you having to either use a credit/debit card at the pump, or pre-pay at the counter. I tend to be a cash-only guy, and pre-pay is an enormous pain.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:11 AM on January 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


The law allows for self-serve gasoline in the middle of nowhere, rural places where otherwise the station would probably just be closed and you'd be out of luck, and in the middle of the damn night.

Seriously, this applies to counties with 40,000 or less residents, counties where, in a lot of places after 10pm, the option wasn't 'wait for someone to pump your gas', it was 'wait for the station to open again in the morning'.

This can be a pain when you're in a county bigger than 5 of the states. Ask me how I know.
posted by madajb at 10:12 AM on January 6, 2018 [12 favorites]


Add me to the people who are surprised and a little grumpy that this is a News Item. I live in Oregon, I forgot this law took effect at the start of the year because, like most people in Oregon, I live in a county with a population greater than 40,000. Which means nothing changes, I'm still not allowed to approach the pump. As for pumping gas- you all joke, but everyone has to learn at some point. I grew up in Washington, pumping my own gas, but I had to teach my Oregonian husband how to pump gas (and how to drive, for that matter!). And learning things as an adult that in other places you might learn as a child is weird, might open you up to some teasing, and put you on the defensive. As for gas stations in rural areas, they may have to upgrade their pumps if they allow self service, which I imagine is a large expense, and jobs may be lost. I would expect some resistance there.

For those nervous to pump their own gas the video linked in the article is actually kind of cute and while it's funny it's not a joke- they show you what the process looks like. The woman is driving a car unfamiliar to her- her usual car is a Leaf, so she never even thinks about pumping gas.
posted by Secretariat at 10:18 AM on January 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


I am confused as to why it is a priority to protect these jobs. They are not productive and extremely niche unskilled labor. Additionally, it seems like there have to be serious health hazards with someone standing outside sucking up gasoline vapor in the hot August sun and freezing January winds.
posted by koavf at 10:21 AM on January 6, 2018 [10 favorites]


Probably the biggest issue (IMHO) with self-serve, pay-at-the-pump gas is the proliferation of card skimmers being surreptitiously attached over the legit card scanner on the pumps. It happens with alarming frequency.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:22 AM on January 6, 2018 [7 favorites]


It's about 4F out right now. I hate pumping gas in heinously cold weather, but I'd feel terrible if somebody had to work for minimum wage doing it for me.
posted by theora55 at 10:23 AM on January 6, 2018 [8 favorites]


It isn't hard to pump gas, but you do need to learn how to do it. New machines usually have directions, but not older ones. I remember being worried when I first had to, because no one ever showed me how and I didn't know if there was a trick or something.

When I travel out of state, I'm always the guy taking too long at the pump (Sorry, folks!) because it seems like they change the design of gas pumps every year and you get out of the habit pretty quickly.
  • Put in your card, select your gas, pump, do you want a receipt.
  • Take out nozzle, select grade, then put in card.
  • Put in card, yes receipt, no car wash, no big gulp, select grade, remove nozzle.
  • Put in card, yes receipt, no car wash, no big gulp, remove nozzle, select grade
  • Remove nozzle, put in card, select receipt, hit mute because apparently there are freakin' ads on gas pumps now?, put back nozzle, no car wash, printer out of paper, please see attendant.
  • Put in nozzle, find centralized card reader, put in card, realize you don't know your pump number, figure out pump number, how much gas?, try and remember how much a fill is, guess wrong, end up with 3/4 tank, debate doing the entire process again.
posted by madajb at 10:30 AM on January 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


meanwhile, the App Store is promoting a new startup that allows you to order a mobile gas service to fill your car's gas tank at home, on-demand. (currently only available in the Bay Area, natch)
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:33 AM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Upside to full service gas:
Likelihood of someone attaching a card skimmer to the pump is low (unless of course, the attendant is in on it).

Downside to full service gas:
Since I never get out of the car, I never remember to wash the windshield until I've pulled away.
posted by madajb at 10:34 AM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


apparently there are freakin' ads on gas pumps now?

The first time I encountered one of those I damn near screamed out loud in rage.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:41 AM on January 6, 2018 [24 favorites]


I don't get how this can be hard. Even if you've lived in Oregon your entire life, you are still at a gas station weekly or so. Have these people never once paid attention to what is going on around them while the get a fill up? It's not rocket science, you can learn it watching the gas station employee once or twice.
posted by COD at 10:42 AM on January 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


Full service gas is a luxury? yeah, tell that to the driver who uses a wheelchair.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 10:42 AM on January 6, 2018 [12 favorites]


"It isn't hard to pump gas, but you do need to learn how to do it."

Yep. You watch it once, and then you can do it yourself. It's just like filling a watering can with a hose.
posted by jonathanhughes at 10:43 AM on January 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


Full-service gas stations should be relegated to the dustbin of history.

I feel you, but not quite universally.

Here's what the ADA says on the matter:

People with disabilities may find it difficult or impossible to use the controls, hose, or nozzle of a self-serve gas pump. As a result, at stations that offer both self and full service, people with disabilities might have no choice but to purchase the more expensive gas from a full-serve pump. At locations with only self-serve pumps, they might be unable to purchase gas at all.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires self-serve gas stations to provide equal access to their customers with disabilities. If necessary to provide access, gas stations must -
  • Provide refueling assistance upon the request of an individual with a disability. A service station or convenience store is not required to provide such service at any time that it is operating on a remote control basis with a single employee, but is encouraged to do so, if feasible.
  • Let patrons know (e.g., through appropriate signs) that customers with disabilities can obtain refueling assistance by either honking or otherwise signaling an employee.
  • Provide the refueling assistance without any charge beyond the self-serve price.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:00 AM on January 6, 2018 [6 favorites]


Yep. You watch it once, and then you can do it yourself. It's just like filling a watering can with a hose.

The problem is, you don't know how simple it is until you actually watch someone do it. So I can understand people who are nervous about it. Once they do it, they'll be all like "yeah, that's not so bad."

Also, I was once defeated by an unfamiliar pump. Using it was really simple--but I had never seen one like it even though I'd been pumping my own gas for a decade at that point. It was just an older style that I hadn't come across yet. I had to ask someone filling up next to me how to do it. I'm sure they laughed, because in hindsight it was obvious, but the pump actually didn't have clear instructions on it so I didn't really have a way to know. So I'm sympathetic to people who are nervous, because sometimes what seems obvious to people is really only obvious because of experience.

The first time I encountered one of those I damn near screamed out loud in rage.

I encountered this for the first time this Christmas break while I was driving to visit my family. I was SO MAD. It was loud and distracting and there was NO WAY TO TURN IT OFF.

Hello, I am PUMPING FLAMMABLE LIQUID INTO MY CAR. I know, the odds of something going wrong are low--but I'd still like to be watching if, say, the pump doesn't disengage when the tank is full (as has happened to a family member before).
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:00 AM on January 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


what would happen if you gave an oregonian a can of beans and a can opener? would they just kind of beat on it and smash it on the floor until it tore open and beans went everywhere?
posted by indubitable at 11:01 AM on January 6, 2018 [14 favorites]


Getting the aim right so that you don't get too much gas splashed all over the side of your car can be hard at first, but it is also part of the fun.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 11:01 AM on January 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


Probably the biggest issue (IMHO) with self-serve, pay-at-the-pump gas is the proliferation of card skimmers being surreptitiously attached over the legit card scanner on the pumps. It happens with alarming frequency.

I've actually switched to only using Mobil/Exxon stations and using the Speedpass app on my phone, which lets me start the pump and pay by scanning a QR code.

I'm sure there are security issues somewhere in that chain of events, but at least my card stays in my pocket.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:06 AM on January 6, 2018


Yes, I too have been yelled at by an Oregonian pump-tender. Was running late for a flight out of EUG and the rental car needed refilled. Strange experience.

At least the USA has got rid of those weird "lift the latch to pump" things now. Still got the ENTER ZIPCODE thing, tho, so here's me trying to remember the digits of my Canadian Postal Code + 00 to fill up the car, keying digits into a faded VFD to the sounds of Toby Keith.
posted by scruss at 11:11 AM on January 6, 2018


Probably the biggest issue (IMHO) with self-serve, pay-at-the-pump gas is the proliferation of card skimmers being surreptitiously attached over the legit card scanner on the pumps. It happens with alarming frequency.

I've been strictly pre-pay only since I got skimmed. Still kind of annoyed about it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:19 AM on January 6, 2018


I’m kinda super okay with the gas people at the pump in Oregon.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:23 AM on January 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


And just think - at the very same time, Tesla is going backwards.
posted by allegedly at 11:23 AM on January 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yep. You watch it once, and then you can do it yourself.

But it's a little hard to just see someone else do it -- layouts aren't set up for it, and I assume in these low population counties, you're not seeing a lot of other people stopping by at the same time of the night. It isn't that hard to do or to learn, but it is still something you need to learn, not innate knowledge, and if you live somewhere that full service is a thing, maybe you never have learned it.

I dunno, I remember this poor teenage girl I ran into at a gas station somewhere, it was her first time out of NJ and she was so embarrassed to ask how to pump, so she came to me as a not much older woman who drove the same car. And I felt terrible, because why should she know how to pump gas? How would she have learned? Why can't she be one of the lucky 10,000?

So I have been annoyed with a lot of the coverage of this I guess.
posted by jeather at 11:24 AM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


I grew up in a small town that had a full-service station until 1986 or so. And when they said full-service, they meant full-service: a team of attendants would pump the gas, wash the windows, open the hood and check the fluids, tire pressure and tread check, all of it. As a child it was kind of a delight to see Sparky and Gus whirling about the station wagon in their coveralls. I'm sure to my mother it was a godsend.

My father grew up in a garage family, and he'd fixed up his first car when he was 15, so when I got to be ten or so he put me on regular gas fill-up duty. I cannot remember a time when I didn't know how to fill a car's gas tank, but I do remember the time I couldn't find the fill for my grandmother's Delta 88.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:43 AM on January 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


apparently there are freakin' ads on gas pumps now?

Ads? Oh, hell, there are video screens on every pump running cnn interspersed with ads for whatever mega-drink is on sale in the convenience store, and don't forget a sandwich! It's so damned annoying.

..............
Getting the aim right so that you don't get too much gas splashed all over the side of your car can be hard at first, but it is also part of the fun.

Ummm...I'm hoping there should have been /sarcasm at the end of that. Otherwise...
posted by Thorzdad at 11:47 AM on January 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


I used to pass by a town that had outlawed self-service gas stations, for safety reasons. I only bought gas there a few times. One time, the highly-trained gasoline refueling technician filled my tank with a lit cigarette in his mouth. Another time (same place), the HTGRT put the pump nozzle into my tank filler, started it pumping, and walked away. I happened to glance at my outside mirror and saw a large and spreading puddle at the back of my car. I jumped out, picked the gushing nozzle off the ground and shut it off. That was the last time I went there.

There's a phone app that scans gas pumps to detect skimmers.

I never buy gas at Exxon/Mobil stations, because of their unbelievably shitty behavior after they slimed Prince William Sound. If you don't know what I'm talking about, look up how much of the multimillion-dollar penalty they actually paid.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:49 AM on January 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


My dog tends to bark at people who approach us when we're in the car. Since we've moved to Oregon that's led to me getting VERY close to running out of gas a few times, since for some reason I only seem to think of getting gas while she and I are coming back the park or whatnot (and then I just don't go because I don't want to stress out her or the attendant). I'd love it if, like with grocery stores and what-not, gas stations here could have a mix of self-service for those of us who prefer that and attendants for those who don't.
posted by DingoMutt at 11:53 AM on January 6, 2018


> Tesla is going...

Is that what skynet looks like?
posted by I-Write-Essays at 11:57 AM on January 6, 2018


...and well designed nozzles that hardly spill a drop for years.

Isn't nozzle design partly a federal requirement? I know all nozzles have had backflow triggers that shut off the flow if it senses fuel backing up the pipe for seemingly ever.

The only state-to-state difference I've noticed is the type of "hilt guard" that is attached just in front of the handle. In Indiana, it's pretty much just a rubberized cup that lays over the fuel door opening. Other states have really fancy contraptions designed to capture escaping gas fumes and inject them back into the fuel flow. Those can be a bit tricky to get right if you aren't used to them.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:03 PM on January 6, 2018


I hate that this is being framed many places as "what liberals hate about pumping their own gas". Because I think most liberals think it's ridiculous to be forbidden to do so by law. But there seem to be enough who seem to think it's a task that should be reserved for those with the proper skill and training, and hell, maybe even licensing is called for, because that's what government regulation is for.

If we liberals are too precious, or are too scared of learning how to work those dangerous pumps without causing a major spill and exploding the world, we deserve all the scorn that can be dredged up.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:09 PM on January 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


In NJ I had an attendant leer at me, spill gas on the ground when the tank was full then demand that I pay for it.

When I later drove through OR I made a point of telling attendants "DON'T top it off"
posted by brujita at 12:10 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Downside to full service gas:
Since I never get out of the car, I never remember to wash the windshield until I've pulled away.


Wait what, the attendants don't do that for you? It's full service, not just service! We had to wash ALL the windows unless the driver instructed us not to. Sometimes they handed us their trash to throw out.
posted by AFABulous at 12:12 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'd still like to be watching if, say, the pump doesn't disengage when the tank is full (as has happened to a family member before).

This is why those locking nozzles that keep flowing while you go do something else are banned here in Ontario. You have to stand there squeezing the thingy and paying attention. This is so not any inconvenience whatsoever that I assume those locking ones were only ever installed in the first place so an attendant could squeegee your windows while the gas was pumping.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:35 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


They don't do the windows generally, and that is fine but also kind of awkward since I often need to park under a tree that makes a disaster of my back window. I always feel weirdly guilty - like I'm being passive aggressive or something - if I get out and squeegee my window while the attendant is pumping my gas, but if I don't my window just keeps getting progressively worse. I realize this is a problem in my own mind only, and my solution had has been to buy a little squeegee and bottle of Windex to keep in my trunk so I can clean the window in my own parking lot, but again I'd be delighted to have the option of just doing the whole gas thing myself.
posted by DingoMutt at 12:37 PM on January 6, 2018


Note to those elsewhere, "gas" is how Americans refer to gasoline. Other English speakers may call this fuel "petrol."

i just realized it must seem silly to call it "gas" when it's obviously liquid.

"petrol" is closer but still doesn't quite hit the mark, if it's short for petroleum from the Latin petra (rock) and oleum (oil).
posted by ecourbanist at 12:44 PM on January 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


Wait what, the attendants don't do that for you? It's full service, not just service!

The cheap station at the end of the expressway never does. They also have too few attendants for the number of pumps, but you know, it's cheap.
They've never done it at Costco, either, but the focus is on speed over there.
Fred Meyer quite often, but not always, there must be some guideline on when they do it.
Smaller stations are hit and miss, depending on how busy they are.
Independent, rural stations (like the kind allowed self-serve), almost always yes,
posted by madajb at 12:51 PM on January 6, 2018


I always forget when I drive across the river into Oregon from pump-your-own Idaho. It does seem like utter luxury to have them pump the gas, wash the windows, and offer to check the oil.

It's about 4F out right now. I hate pumping gas in heinously cold weather, but I'd feel terrible if somebody had to work for minimum wage doing it for me.

I know a lot of high school teens that would still kill to have a job doing that for minimum wage, no matter what the weather. When I grew up, that was the entry level job, and was much better than bucking hay all summer. Even some of the gals wanted in on those good wages (sometimes there were tips even!), but usually, the guys were hired, and eventually lots of them when on to changing the oil and working on basic mechanical stuff.

One of the fellas that I went to school with started out pumping gas at 15, and eventually owned a couple service stations and a mechanics shop. He gave a lot of young teens with problems a chance at working and getting themselves straight--and had quite a bit of success with it, too. Jerry was a good guy.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:53 PM on January 6, 2018 [6 favorites]


I've been on multiple motorcycle road trips across eastern Oregon, and have had gas crises on more than one occasion. 4 gallon gas tank on the bike and everything closes by 6 or 7pm in these small rural towns, which is almost all of eastern Oregon not along a major freeway.

On one occasion I paid a random townsperson cash so he could get me gas from the card lockout self serve the truckers use. The rest of the time I filled up at every gas station I could find that was open and hoped for the best. Thankfully I haven't needed to camp out in the parking lot yet, and hopefully with this new law I won't need to worry as much anymore.

The irony is that with motorcycles in Oregon, the gas station attendant simply hands you the pump so that you can pump it yourself anyways, to avoid the possibility of spilling gas on your bike and being held liable for damages. I believe they let people with vintage cars pump their own gas too.
posted by Feyala at 12:54 PM on January 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


I lived in Oregon for 16 years, and the law was hollow before this. I had a Pacific Pride commercial fueling account. It was always self service for commercial fueling stations.
Having known the anxiety that comes with being on a low tank in rural Oregon late at night, I think this law is a good thing. Outside of the I-5 belt, there just aren't enough people to make a full-employment scheme like this law viable.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 12:57 PM on January 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


I grew up in Oregon, but I was fine when I moved and had to pump my own. The really weird thing is remembering how you used to have to wash the windshield in the summer, because back in the 1980s there were still insects flying around.
posted by snofoam at 1:07 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Pacific Pride

Pulling over for gas in somewhere in Washington state a couple of years ago, I remarked "Hey! We found a gay gas station!" My reaction was partly prompted by the fact that the Pacific Pride logo is almost the pride flag with the wrong colour palette, but maybe that's just me. It had been a long day of driving and I was a little punchy.

Carry on.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:07 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Years ago I needed gas during a trip to Oregon, and the pump attendant also tried to wash my windows (unasked for). He lifted my wiper and then let it go--THWAP--and cracked my windshield. The crack spread across the whole glass, and I needed a replacement.

Since then, I've always made sure to top-off before crossing into Oregon.
posted by lovecrafty at 1:08 PM on January 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


Hmm, having posted twice now about things I don't really like about having to have my gas pumped for me, I feel like I should also add that more often than not, the attendants have been extraordinarily friendly - to the point where they've brightened my day on multiple occasions. Not sure if I've just gotten lucky a lot or what, but it is something I've been grateful for many a time.
posted by DingoMutt at 1:09 PM on January 6, 2018


There’s a full service station in Gorda, on the central California coast in Big Sur. The attendant is the owner; he’s well-versed in car maintenance and is super-friendly and charming.

He has to be, because the price per gallon there is more than double the cost everywhere else in the state owing to the station’s remoteness and need for a generator. If the gas pumping experience at his station wasn’t exceptionally pleasant, the sticker shock might induce stroke, cardiac arrest, or violence.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:20 PM on January 6, 2018




WHO WILL REDEEM THE GREEN STAMPS?
posted by clavdivs at 1:29 PM on January 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


Do OR station attendants wash the windshield and check your oil while the tank is being filled? (If not, what are they doing instead?)
posted by she's not there at 2:47 PM on January 6, 2018


Do OR station attendants wash the windshield and check your oil while the tank is being filled? (If not, what are they doing instead?)

In my experience, they run off to the next car to get them going. Then run back to your car to remove the nozzle, close the tank and hand you a receipt. I've never had an oil check even offered, and the windshield washed like once or twice.

When I first moved out here, and suggested a full repeal of the law, the best rebuttal I'd heard was 'but then how will people know where to find their weed dealer?' I guess now that recreational cannabis is legal in the state, the need for gas pump attendants has diminished.
posted by pwnguin at 2:53 PM on January 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


It's full service, not just service!

Do OR station attendants wash the windshield and check your oil while the tank is being filled?


I've been patronizing Oregon gas stations for years, and never once has an attendant offered to do anything other than pump fuel. Often they've got 4-6 cars waiting at pumps, they usually start the pump at one car, then go to the next and the next and so-on in round-robin fashion.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:06 PM on January 6, 2018


Hmmm. Maybe it's the stations I stop at, or maybe because I'm a little old lady who usually drives around with a filthy windshield, but most of the time even the young punks at least offer to clean my windshield. The dirty old men that want to flirt are the ones that want to check the oil. Most of them don't go "hun hun huh" after they offer. ...most of em.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:15 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Two tasks I tried to teach my newly-widowed, 75 yo mother to perform a couple years back: checking AOL email and pumping gas. Guess which was the easier. And she was an eager, motivated learner.
posted by klarck at 3:29 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


> I think it is a little paradoxical when I come across people who grouse about the disappearance of jobs or advocate UBI and unions who then proceed to get agitated about gas pumping in Oregon and say things like, "well If I could save a few bucks I'd rather pump my own gas," or, "Its so slow." I mean its pretty simple, do away with the law and poof you just eliminated jobs and put money in the pocket of capital.
Some of those things might be paradoxical, but not all. I don't think people need make-work service jobs in order to have an income, and I don't think that's what UBI is about. Have attendants to attend to customers who want or need it, to provide another level of service? Sure. Require attendants by law and disallow people from doing it themselves? Not a fan.

Sure, with the way our system works, doing away with the law would poof away jobs and put money where I wouldn't want it. But I'd be good with changing the system and getting to a place where unions and laws like these weren't required simply so people could have a job that very few people respect and probably doesn't provide much.
posted by cardioid at 4:09 PM on January 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


Getting the aim right so that you don't get too much gas splashed all over the side of your car can be hard at first, but it is also part of the fun.

So, like Odin up thread, I can't tell if sarcasm or not.

You should wait until the nozzle is in the tank opening before squeezing the handle. And when done (probably should) wait a second or two and jiggle the nozzle, to reduce spills.
posted by MikeKD at 4:20 PM on January 6, 2018


"So, like Odin up thread, I can't tell if sarcasm or not."

It is.
posted by jonathanhughes at 4:49 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Thought about this today while I was putting gas in my car.. (in Houston).

Makes me miss the tiny service station / mechanic in my hometown that had optional full-service gas. There's days when I'm tired and I would drive 2-3 miles out of my way now and pay a couple bucks extra just to have someone else fill my tank.
posted by mrbill at 5:10 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


At least the USA has got rid of those weird "lift the latch to pump" things now.

Not at all. Sometimes it is a lever on the side that makes the wheels spin back to zero. Pulled plastic sheathing off a pump trying to lift the latch yesterday because I am so used to this. The sign with the brand doesn't mean anything. Tons of indies used to be BP cause that was the best deal for them until the public consternation about Deep Horizon.

Those are the BP stations you see in Appalachia. Signs are expensive. Their customers knew they had little to do with that.

And where else do you get a giant batter-fried carrot with a popsicle stick that tastes like everything else fried that day but still like carrot? Fish and chicken and steak and fries and mushroom flavors all in one? It's a good thing as long as it's a carrot.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:21 PM on January 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


Ads? Oh, hell, there are video screens on every pump running cnn interspersed with ads for whatever mega-drink is on sale in the convenience store, and don't forget a sandwich! It's so damned annoying

On a bunch around the country it's not even CNN or anything, it's the "Speedway" channel or whatever where a couple of impossibly good-looking talking heads give you 8 seconds on how well the newest blockbuster movie did on opening weekend and 12 seconds on last night's sports scores and if you have any kind of sizeable tank you see these little infotainment segments and all the ads like 6 times.

Hate.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:43 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


"Sure, with the way our system works, doing away with the law would poof away jobs and put money where I wouldn't want it. But I'd be good with changing the system and getting to a place where unions and laws like these weren't required simply so people could have a job that very few people respect and probably doesn't provide much."

Having watched people fight over bottles and cans for a nickel (now a dime) a piece I have to say that I'd be good with a lot more make-work disrespected jobs being legislated into existence. However since neither that nor what ever this "place with no unions or laws like these" is likely to happen I am happy with the status quo.
posted by Pembquist at 5:52 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


I lived in Portland in the early 80s and worked for the state senator who defended keeping service stations full serve because customers might spill and slip on the frozen gas.

True.
posted by hal9k at 6:40 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've sometimes had the gas station person wash my windshield and/or rear windshield. That might be because the rear windshield is usually ghastly. I am a transplant to Oregon and very quickly grew to love staying in the nice warm, dry car when someone else pumps the gas for me. For years I drove a diesel, so it was extra super nice not to ever get fuel on my hands unless I'd crossed into Washington or was on a road trip. The only thing bad is if you have a car where the pump cover latch (if you have one at all) is in the drivers side door. Luckily, that's only happened to me with rental cars or loaners from the mechanic.

I am glad it will be possible to refuel at night out in eastern Oregon. Some towns are really far apart.
posted by janell at 6:45 PM on January 6, 2018


Not just the NJ and Oregon, the other day I had to help a car full of Chinese girls who had bravely rented a car and had no idea how to fill it up (apparently on China the attendants do it for them too)
posted by xdvesper at 7:52 PM on January 6, 2018


At least the USA has got rid of those weird "lift the latch to pump" things now.

To those to young to remember those pumps, this was the 90s equivalent to the chip reader/scanner on credit card readers. Half the time you bumbled around trying to figure out which system to use.
posted by dances with hamsters at 8:22 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Self serve gas is faster! Full stop. It is not rocket science.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:29 PM on January 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


I utterly, utterly adore getting gas in Oregon, especially when it's sluicing rain. It's so gloriously civilized to stay warm and dry and hand your card out the window instead of standing under a narrow shelter that does nothing to keep you from the pelting rain, squinting at the credit card display, and getting your shoes smelling of gasoline. I would happily pay for full service everywhere.
posted by HotToddy at 9:29 PM on January 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


Card skimmers are bad: you should use cash for everything.
posted by koavf at 10:09 PM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


From Oregon. A job pumping gas as a directionless teenager paid my rent. I eventually got my head on square, but that job saved my life.

I will always vote against self-serve just like I do against sales tax.
posted by drfu at 10:12 PM on January 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


I've been in Oregon for three years now and am still a little uncomfortable with people pumping my gas for me. I only started driving this week after six months of not driving and last night for the first time in OR, the attendant offered to wash my windows. I had accidentally popped the hood instead of the gas door and I definitely got the "dumb blonde" treatment. 😆

When gassing up the motorcycle I generally ask the attendant if they're required to do it but fortunately I always get to do it myself. (Am I only the only one who thinks about foreskin while pulling that rubber thing back?)
posted by bendy at 10:29 PM on January 6, 2018


Erik Loomis: Gas Station Attendants and the Working Class Economy
Now, you might say that this job provides no value added, that you could do this much faster, that we should be focusing on building other sorts of jobs. I am not arguing that this is some amazing jobs program that will transform the economy if implemented nationwide. But for working class people in Oregon and New Jersey, these are real jobs that they have and why shouldn’t they continue to have them? So many of the comments when discussing this on Twitter today talked about how pointless and meaningless this job is. Pointless and meaningless to who? Such statements always reflect the position of the person saying it, which on Twitter means educated people. Why should I assume that my belief about a “meaningful” job is correct? Why should you? [...]

Moreover, what do you people think low-skill, blue-collar jobs are going to look like? Is cleaning hotels a better job? No. Actually, it’s much harder. But since you and I don’t want to clean our own hotel, that’s OK. And that’s what so much of this comes down to. People are impatient and they don’t want to interact with others. The number of people who are admitting that their position on low-skilled service jobs is based on this is amazing to me. What the hell kind of economic program can be based upon “I don’t want to talk to people or wait 2 minutes?” What a tremendous lack of self-awareness.

This is where Universal Basic Income proponents start popping up. They argue that no one should be a slave to the gas pump. But again, there is no shortage here of pushing your own values on others. I want to be liberated from work so you want to be liberated from work too. Well, maybe? Now, I have no real opposition to UBI in theory. If a serious UBI proposal might pass Congress that didn’t take away from other social programs, I’d probably support it. My opposition is rooted in my own analysis of American history. Nearly our entire social safety net is based around benefits earned at work. And I don’t see much evidence this is changing. There are tens of millions of working-class households that value WORK. The job well-done is something of great value to many, many people. [...] This is simply a fact of American history and society. Work and economic self-sufficiency are at the center of American culture and mythology. Deal with it. Or don’t, at your great peril.
My own skepticism toward UBI has always been more about how I expect it to be used as a way to kill the social safety net without providing enough of an income for people to live a good life, but Loomis' points here are worth examining as well. Maybe the idea of work as being central to American life is wrong, and I certainly don't like the idea that a dollar earned through work is inherently better than a dollar received through a safety net program, but acknowledging the sociopolitical realities of American attitudes toward work is important, even for (and perhaps especially for) those who would like to change those attitudes in the hopes that people can be liberated from work many of them would rather not do if given a choice.

And, really, with all of the trouble we already have fighting to preserve the safety net and expand it to meet the needs of a growing and aging population, and with automation coming after nearly every kind of work imaginable (Loomis notes that they're coming after bartenders now!), it's worth considering whether we can afford to surrender laws that put money in peoples' pockets just because they may be protecting jobs that wouldn't exist otherwise. Just because there may be a theoretically better way to optimize the transfer of funds from those who have to those who need doesn't justify blowing up the Rube Goldberg machine that's providing a living for people right now.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:47 PM on January 6, 2018 [6 favorites]


Here's another thing in favor of full-service stations: that self-serve gas nozzle is probably the dirtiest, most germ-laden thing you're going to touch. I have started carrying a box of surgical gloves in the car, for when I refuel. If you can't go that far, hand sanitizer is a good idea.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:00 AM on January 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


well designed nozzles that hardly spill a drop for years

Pffft. Those things spoil all the fun.
posted by flabdablet at 6:45 AM on January 7, 2018


This is a serious question, no snark I promise. Those of you who are saying you don't want gas on your hands or shoes..is this actually a problem you have experienced in real life? Because I've been pumping my own gas for like 31 years now (minus brief excursions to OR and NJ) and I can't remember ever getting gas on my person. Believe me, I'd know; I love the smell of gasoline and if it was on my hand I'd certainly remember.
posted by cooker girl at 8:02 AM on January 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


I am not in that camp, but I have occasionally gotten a drop or two of gas on my hand or shoe. Maybe 5-10 times in the last 30 years?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:08 AM on January 7, 2018


Only time I ever was when the previous user had (maliciously IMO) replaced the nozzle with the lock still on -- I was lucky I didn't get a faceful of gas, as it came on when I was rotating the nozzle, prior to insertion.

I love the smell of gasoline
I think of it as a... perfume.
posted by Rash at 8:21 AM on January 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


Those of you who are saying you don't want gas on your hands or shoes

Think of it as spot dry cleaning!
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:30 AM on January 7, 2018


Cooker girl, diesel nozzles are more often covered in a fuel-residue sticky film than not, based on my experiences in Oregon-adjacent states. Touching them is gross and your hand comes away with the smell. And yes, the nozzles often drip a bit (even after letting them settle for a few seconds when done pumping) - I think it’s the tendency to foam.

That said, it’s always been legal for me to pump my own diesel in OR, I just choose not to and the attendants treated me like any gasoline-purchaser. Only the chevron on Hayden Island insisted that their staff -not- pump diesel, so I never went there again.
posted by janell at 9:08 AM on January 7, 2018


This reminded me of a section in Neil Peart's book Ghost Rider:

Riding north now, making my way toward the Alaska Highway, I stopped at a rural gas station and pulled the bike back onto its centerstand in front of the pump. While I fiddled with getting my tankbag out of the way, the young attendant handed me the nozzle, and I started filling the tank. I noticed that the fuel seemed kind of foamy, but didn't think too much about it until the boy came out again and said, "Your bike runs on diesel?"

I looked down at the nozzle's handle and noticed it was green, which often (though not always) means diesel, and at the oily fuel foaming up from the filler neck. I shook my head in disbelief and said, "No."

Then through gritted teeth, "Do you have a siphon?"

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:16 AM on January 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


I didn't know that full service gas stations still existed anywhere - I haven't seen one inn probably 30 years. This thread is fascinating.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:32 AM on January 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


Richmond and Coquitlam, BC has been non-self serve for forever.

When I started working in Richmond, I was actually unaware of that and was pumping my own gas. No one ever tried to stop me or let me know, but it was super awkward after I realized the prohibition. To this day, I'm still weirded out about fueling up in Richmond that I make a point of doing it elsewhere/ closer to where I live.

There's no difference in the cost of gas (unlike further out of metro Vancouver) and it seems like an additional tax on gas station owners. It's not like they provided extra service like checking your oil or anything.

The last gas station in (the center of) Kerrisdale (older formerly staid neighbourhood that has traditionally been almost-upper crust and is adjacent to some real upper crust neighbourhoods - no restrictions on self service) was also a small scale mechanic, with old-ish style pumps, and actual full service every time you fueled up (fluids check/ top up, all glass washed, tire pressure, quick mechanical inspection suggesting making appointments when required).

It closed in the 2000's; I'm guessing it was a combination of demographics and geometric land price appreciation. The last of the little old ladies who assumed that the cars* that their husbands bought them were magical chariots that. just. worked. moved/ passed on.

*most of them prime vintage Jags, Renaults, Alpha Romeros - old school cars unlike the late model Bentlys, Lambos, Ferraris, MacLarens, Lotuses, Maseratis that infest the city now
posted by porpoise at 5:10 PM on January 7, 2018


The service station by the house I lived in for most of my school years didn't close until 2002 or 2003. And I do mean service station. They gave slightly three times in their existence: First, unleaded gas, second, the name "Exxon," third, a self service island Exxon insisted they install as a franchisee.

Aside from that the place never changed (aside from the prices) from the day I was born until the day they closed. Attendants, checking (and offering to top off) all the car's fluids, washing windows as a matter of course, a couple of bays for the mechanic to do their thing in, an ancient tow truck, and a carbon copy credit card machine. Oh, and an RC Cola machine.

It actually lasted longer than the early self serve mini mart a block down despite it being a few extra cents per gallon. Not as long as the early highway exit self serve like a modern Wawa or QuikTrip, though. Road Runner was ahead of their time with that one. (Yes, they licensed the cartoon character)
posted by wierdo at 5:53 PM on January 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


prime vintage Jags, Renaults, Alpha Romeros

All of which are very much the exact opposite of maintenance-free...
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:18 PM on January 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh, hell, there are video screens on every pump running cnn interspersed with ads for whatever mega-drink is on sale in the convenience store, and don't forget a sandwich! It's so damned annoying

The two stations around me that had those, eventually also got rid of them after a couple of years.
posted by mrbill at 8:14 PM on January 7, 2018


All of which are very much the exact opposite of maintenance-free...

Exactly.

Their owners/ operators never ever even had a clue, other than that they sometimes didn't have access to their cars. "It's in the shop. Jeffries says they'll have a boy bring it back Tuesday so I'll be at high tea on Wednesday as usual."
posted by porpoise at 11:15 PM on January 7, 2018


I already linked Zoolander above!

Neither of us will be the last to do so, I'm sure.

when the previous user had (maliciously IMO) replaced the nozzle with the lock still on

Here in Australia, I can't remember the last time I used a pump with a working trigger lock. It was at least decades ago. I believe nobbling them is a regulatory requirement here, which I count as a good thing; it means we don't see shit like this because you can't build up enough charge relative to the nozzle to discharge a spark to it if you're forced to stand there hanging onto it to keep the fuel flowing. It also provides a certain degree of protection against complete fuckwits instinctively going full napalm.
posted by flabdablet at 4:39 AM on January 8, 2018


That said: the extra ten seconds it will cost you to be sure where the instant-kill lever or latch or button is on whatever pump you're about to use is always a good investment of your time.
posted by flabdablet at 4:44 AM on January 8, 2018


It could save you up to $75.
posted by flabdablet at 4:56 AM on January 8, 2018


I'm from New Jersey and was mildly nervous the first time I pumped my own gas, but, well, I'd seen it done, and there were instructions on the pump, so it was not such a big deal. I have taught several fellow Jerseyites how to do it while on road trips, though, because some people are more comfortable having a person show them a procedure than trust to a faded plastic sticker.

This whole full service debate comes up from time to time here, and I recall that studies showed that self-service did not reduce the price of gas. Instead, the prices stay even, full service gets a surcharge, and the companies pocket the difference. New Jersey has slightly cheaper delivery costs than many neighboring areas because we have a lot of the refineries here. So already, if you cross into a self-service state from here, you're as likely to see the price of gas bump up a little, instead of a savings. Under those circumstances, we might as well keep the extra jobs and service. (As a smaller and more densely populated state than Oregon, the rural lack of stations is less of an issue).

The frequency of offers of windshield washing and oil level checks has dropped notably since I was a kid, but it does still happen. Just this year I had an attendant point out I had a tire running low, and run the air hose over to top me off to make sure I could get to a tire shop safely. Getting my windows washed seems to depend on how dirty the windows are, and whether there's a line. I've also never had a full service station refuse me, if I asked to have something checked (probably because that signals a potential sale of oil or wiper fluid).

I am confused as to why it is a priority to protect these jobs. They are not productive and extremely niche unskilled labor.
I'm not sure I'd call gas station attendant as not a productive job, except that any service job could be classified as "non-productive" if you look at it the right way. That it's niche unskilled labor is, in fact, one of the reasons to protect these jobs. That kind of just-enough-to-live-on job is exactly the strata where we need more jobs. Unskilled people on the lower end of the income scale are the people who need a paycheck the most, and there aren't a lot of other options at that level.
posted by Karmakaze at 1:55 PM on January 8, 2018


I'm not sure I'd call gas station attendant as not a productive job, except that any service job could be classified as "non-productive" if you look at it the right way.

The question of productivity is 'what value is being provided to society.' This is a job that exists to provide slower service than self-service, and gifts me with 5 random minutes of extremely limited value. If the primary social value is 'a job for the marginally unemployed', why specify gas stations instead of say, virtually anything else. To say nothing of the fact that payment for this service is rendered purely through price per gallon, meaning the affluent Tesla and hybrid drivers foot less of the bill than those without the means to buy fuel efficient vehicles.

There's also some unintended consequences. Despite the introduction of ATMs, we have more people employed as bank tellers today than in 1980. BLS data suggests we have something like 502k tellers in the US, versus . Now the outlook is negative, so there's room for a glass-is-half-empty interpretation, but wages have risen while the quantity employed is relatively stable. This happened because banks opened up more branches. More ATMs, but also more tellers overall, and ATMs helped make that expansion feasible*. I argue that self-service is the ATM of gas pump attendants.

In rural Oregon we have gas stations that close at 8pm, I assume because the extra hours don't bring in enough to cover the minimum wage (9.75/hr in Oregon vs 8.60/hr in NJ) for the multiple people required. It's entirely possible that lowering the required employee count would result in more hours worked, and seems likely given I've never seen a gas station closed for the day until I moved to Oregon*.
posted by pwnguin at 5:15 PM on January 8, 2018


Many rural areas have gas stations with limited hours. Sometimes very limited, but there's usually someplace within 30 miles open until at least 10pm, so it's fine as long as you know where that somewhere is.

Having driven many of my miles overnight, I've been nearly bitten on several occasions when a station was closed unexpectedly...
posted by wierdo at 8:35 PM on January 8, 2018


The number of people who are admitting that their position on low-skilled service jobs is based on this is amazing to me. What the hell kind of economic program can be based upon “I don’t want to talk to people or wait 2 minutes?” What a tremendous lack of self-awareness.
Eh? I am obviously not an economist, but I thought the whole point of a market-based economy was that it was all about supply and demand. If there's a demand for services that don't require talking to people or waiting extra time, isn't that kind of exactly what it's based on?'

I mean, making fun of the existence of the job is over the top, yes, but the above goes a bit too far itself as well.
posted by inconstant at 8:07 AM on January 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


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