Full Service Gas Pump
March 27, 2015
by Mark Giles
When I was just starting to drive in the 70's, the following wasn't unusual. You'd pull up to a gas station, the attendant would rush out, begin filling up your tank, clean all the windows, top off all the fluids, check your oil, etc. It was full service. But you paid only for the gas. The extra service was no charge. Gratis. A benefit of your stopping in to THAT specific gas station. Going the extra mile so you would keep coming back to them.
Fast forward to 2015. Full service pumps are a thing of the past, UNLESS you're driving in Oregon (that's another story....it's illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon....I found out the hard way on an artist promo trip). Self service pumps are the thing now. You might be able to find a full service pump somewhere, but they are not the norm.
This past Friday I was running on empty, so I stopped at a gas station in an unfamiliar part of town. Getting out of the car, I hadn't even gotten my credit card out of my pocket before I noticed a lady walking towards me. I use the term lady loosely....this sentence in itself should explain a lot. She apparently had left the majority of her clothing at home, and even though it was 95 degrees outside, the thought crossed my mind that she might be cold. Anyway...she walked up to me, got within that uncomfortably close proximity usually reserved for a good friend or family member, and said...
"My car broke down over there (pointing to her right) and I need to get to work over there (pointing to her left) at Kroger. Can you take me to Kroger in your car?"
Well, the little voice inside my head screamed NO for several different reasons. I had been expecting her to ask for money. I had already prepared myself to try to figure out how to get her a hamburger somewhere, or something. But I wasn't prepared for this request. So I told her that I was traveling in the opposite direction, which was true, and that I was in a big hurry, which was true, and that I wouldn't be able to offer her a ride.
She then leaned in a little closer, lowered her voice, gave me THE LOOK, and said, "I promise to make it WELL worth your while".
What??? Oh no she didn't! Yes, I believe she just did! I got embarrassed, mad and hilariously tickled at the same time. I took a quick glance around and inventoried that no one else was paying attention to this little conversation that was happening at pump # 7. I considered her questionable promise, and my reply. And then I reverted back to high school....back when my smart butt comments would often get me in trouble. All this took just a couple of seconds, of course. Looking at her with feigned seriousness, I said, "mam, you do realize this is a self service pump, don't you?".
Well, apparently she wasn't used to getting THAT kind of answer to her invitations. She took about two steps back, put her hands on her hips, and screamed a declaration at me (something calling into question the character and PEDIGREE of my mother) and stormed off, leaving heel prints in the concrete. She was torqued at me, for sure. And I was still fighting back the giggles.
Since I was STILL on empty (hadn't had the chance yet to begin filling my gas tank) I proceeded to finish as fast as possible and vacate this full service establishment. She continued on her quest to find a ride to "work", approaching no less than 3 other men in the short time it took me to fill my tank. Suitors #1 and #2 were not interested. Contestant #3 however was apparently either a friend or needed his windows cleaned, because she got in the car with him and they drove off....in a 3rd direction that was not headed to either her car or her job. Hmmmm....maybe she was just making up the entire story???
I shook my head, said a prayer for her and her family, and then laughed as I called my wife to replay the events. Thankful, thoughtful, and with bugs still on my windshield.