Three Minutes at the Pump

Three Minutes at the Pump

Do you plan on traveling for the upcoming holidays?  I’d like to share a little story.

Once upon a time when I was just a little girl, I remember going with my dad to fill the car up with gas. This was back in the day when you drove up to a gas station, ran over some type of hose that  signaled an attendant with a ding to alert the arrival of a customer.  The attendant would come fill up your tank.  The only decisions were, regular, unleaded, cash or charge.  By the way, charge was done with carbon paper back then. 

The attendant usually knew most the people in town because whether it be rain, shine, snow, or wind, the attendant would provide the personal service of pumping the gas and generally would engage in conversation all the while washing your windshield. 

Moving on, I remember the panic I felt when they did away with the full service gas stations.  I was now required to manipulate this machine by myself?  For as long as I could, I would travel farther to find a station that still used the old-style, full-service attendant, which are practically obsolete now, but once in a great while, you may be lucky enough to still find along a roadside.  Humorously, we make a point to stop at one when we are so lucky to find one of these gems so as to demonstrate to the kids as if it is some old fashioned secret of the way things used to be. 

With the changes, I truly felt fear and panic as I wondered if I would be able to figure out this contraption and many times, no two were the same.  Well, at least I could pay inside and ask questions.  Oh no, they changed that too.  Now I pay at the pump.  Goodness, what’s next?

Several years later, after I mastered paying at the pump and self-serve, I remember the very day, as I stood there concentrating, so as not to overflow my tank, I realized I was listening to music.  Well, wasn’t that nice.  The stations wanted us to enjoy our momentary stop to be sure to patron that stop again, after all they had entertainment.  Easy listening.

I admit, to this day I avoid whenever possible making the trip to the gas station. It is just not my thing and I usually try pawning the responsibility off on my husband.  But every so often, I find myself having to bite the bullet.

Recently, my youngest daughter and I were running errands, and whoops, I had to get some gas. 

After that experience, I truly believe I’ve seen it all.

I suppose the competition is really challenging others – there are now TV screens! 

Really? 

Like, how long do they expect me to spend at the pump?  I timed it.  Roughly three minutes.  That is, actually pumping the gas.  Seems counterproductive to me, I may never leave the pump. 

Oh my, anything to bring in the customers.  Personally, I wish they would lower the prices rather than try to entertain me while I pump the gas.

Do you ever ask yourself if all of this is necessary?  It’s nice and all, and I understand reasons for change.  I understand the station’s line of thinking that perhaps the quick ad they have placed upon that screen will bring them extra business, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.  I just think some things need to be left alone.  I suppose I don’t adapt to change easily, but usually am glad once I do. I just don’t know that this changes my mind about the way I feel. 

So, if travelling for the holidays and you happen upon one of these upgraded stations, see if it makes a difference in your eyes.  For me, well, I find myself right back where I was in the beginning- avoiding my three minutes at the pump.


From gas station attendants and conversations to TV screens and quick card swipes at the pump. Today, Erin Dodd shares the eye-opening transformation of gas stations.