Friday, December 28, 2007


I've been complaining about this for years and the only people I ever get good feedback from are women. My husband doesn't care to hear about it, even one more time. He thinks I'm making too big of a deal out of it. That's a shame, because it's getting to the point that I'm purposely running on empty, so he has to do it instead of me. If he insists on thinking that, he must suffer the consequences. Maybe I'm showing my age and impatience with society, or I could be just a big sissy-girl, but I think I'm right. Read on.

When I need gas for my car, I instantly go into "I Don't Get It" mode. Sometimes I think I'd rather walk a tight-rope than stop at a gas station or maybe taking up sword-swallowing instead. For me, it's an overwhelming experience and for so many reasons. It's not just that "magnetic phenomena thing" I happen to possess, the one that makes machines go haywire and almost always says my card is de-magnetized. It's a multitude of things.

First of all, you have to get out of the car, no matter where you are, what you look like, feel like, what the weather is like, what you're wearing, if you're sick, disabled, pregnant, have a baby or kids in the car, old, feeble, or just plain stupid. What if you're wearing a tuxedo or a ballgown or a new suit and high heels for a job interview or an important meeting? Too bad you have a life. You should have planned ahead because now, not only might you get filthy, you will have to breathe in the vapors that are known carcinogens. You may even accidentally spill gasoline all over the place, as I have done before. Once, on a road trip with my sister, I ended up practically doing the Mexican Hat Dance with a gas hose. If I ever learn how to post pictures, I'll prove it.

Here is a description of one of the stickers on a California gas pump: "WARNING: Chemicals known to the state to cause CANCER, BIRTH DEFECTS, or OTHER REPRODUCTIVE HARM are found in GASOLINE, CRUDE OIL AND MANY OTHER PETROLEUM PRODUCTS AND THEIR VAPORS OR RESULT FROM THEIR USE. READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS AND USE CARE WHEN HANDLING OR USING ALL PETROLEUM PRODUCTS." What's the big deal? These are fun things we should just ignore, I guess. I wonder what the reason is for having these signs posted? No one seems to care or even notice and whenever I point them out to a stranger, they look at me as though I were from PlanetNotInventedYet. I guess I am and I'm a proud "PNIYET", wondering why so many of us are being stricken with Cancer and all sorts of deadly diseases and not even noticing a sign that might as well be a Skull and Crossbones. Shiver Me Timbers~~~~~

It says exactly what we're all trying to avoid, but we do it because they force us to! We used to have a choice, the nice man in the clean white uniform would be the main vapor inhaler, but that was when we were young and foolish. Besides, he was paid to do that job. He knew what he was getting into.

Am I the only one that thinks being handicapped or old or pregnant is a good enough reason to change these ridiculous methods or laws? If you mention any of these things to a simpleton, you will hear statements like this. "That's what handicapped stickers are for! If you honk your horn, it's a state law that they must come out and give full service." "Yes, I know, oh, small-minded, mental-midget. I just watched an old woman sitting outside the door of the mini-mart with her handicapped placard up. She honked her horn and was sitting there for 15 minutes." "Well, that's what they're supposed to do!" Maybe so, Sir Smart Guy, but it's not working. The teenagers inside are so inundated with customers whose cards aren't working, selling candy, cigarettes and souvenirs, they don't have the time. Besides all of that, they're so doped up on the drug choice du jour, they couldn't give a flying fig. Not only that, but half the time I can't even understand what they're saying. As I've been known to say recently, "I'm sorry, but I don't understand English anymore." Life is hard enough without all of this added torture at our gas stations. Not only do we have to do everything ourselves, but we sometimes have to play Charades just to complete a simple transaction.

What about the customers who have babies or small children? Is it convenient to have your charge card rejected and get them all out of the car to go into the store with you? Maybe it's just better to leave them in the car and pray that they don't get kidnapped or shot or if you lock the car, the car could blow up spontaneously! I've seen some videos of this really happening. What's a mother to do?

Is it good to have a pregnant woman breathing in those vapors, passing them on to her baby? Perhaps men should carry the babies in the next life, so we ladies can just sit back and let the pregnant men"conveniently" fill their own tanks while possibly even caring for one or two more in the car. Honestly, it's insane! If someone answers back that she is supposed to get full-serve by honking - honk you! And your little dog too!

Frankly, I just don't understand how we got to the point of being so "progressive" that we have to pump our own gas and do everything else too. I'm a woman, damn it! Maybe some women like to do it or don't mind, but I'm definitely not one of them. I guess now that we all have tattoos (which used to only be related to those on the rougher side of town or carnival workers), we have to do everything ourselves. Well, I've only had one tattoo in my life and it was a rub-on Bugs Bunny style. My son insisted I do it and I couldn't wait to get it off. To me, it looked like one more flaw, one big smudge of unnecessary dirt.

I have no interest in learning about checking my dipstick or other fluids. I haven't had my tire pressure checked in years because of this. Oh, I guess they do it at Jiffy Lube, but how do you even know? Do you actually watch them? The first and last time I tried to figure out my tire pressure on my own, the tire went completely flat. I used the tire pressure gauge feeling kind of cocky and maybe a little overly-confident because that's when all the air started whooshing out. I'll never forget it because the way people were staring and laughing, you would have thought I was in a sideshow - the "freakwoman" who can't test her tire pressure"- ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. I couldn't wait to never do that again...

I'm confused. Are we going forward or backwards - maybe ASS-backwards? How about GAS-Backwards? Yeah, that's the ticket. That should be the name of a chain of stations! As soon as I save enough $$$ to start one, that's what I'll name it - Gas Backwards. "We don't pump your gas, but we do sell a way to get rid of it. It's located in the Antacid & Constipation section of our convenience store, right next to the tortilla chips and salsa display (which can actually give you gas). Don't have Gas? Then go ahead and pass." Drive On.. There's another Gas Backwards right down the road for your convenience.

In the old days a nice-looking friendly fellow would come out to the car and not only fill the tank, but check your oil, fluids and tire pressure. It was so nice. You didn't have to get out of the car. You didn't have to stop in Murderville because you forgot to gas up in Pleasantland. You didn't have to risk being attacked by gangsters or angry teenagers needing drug money or just wanting to kill for the thrill. You didn't have to look at their butts hanging out of their underwear (if they're wearing it). You didn't have to look at anything like any of them look now. You'd think they'd pick at least one day of the year - October 31, to get dressed up as real people! It sounds like I'm getting off track here, but I'm not. We're still inside the Gas Backwards Station! "Fill 'er up?" I don't think so...

Over the years I've mentioned this concept of self-service to many people, especially while at the pump. I have to be honest and say that I'm usually so annoyed about it and wanting to be understood, that I get some rather interesting looks. I don't understand what part of "doing it all yourself" people don't understand! If I mention to a fellow-filler that I think it stinks (literally) that we have to do it, here's what usually happens. The first response is usually, "Do you need any help?" ("Yeah, I do. Are there any smart people around?). I know how to do it, I just don't want to - ever! The other comment is usually something like this - "Well, you know, there's a station in Berkeley, right off of I-80 that is full-serve. Or, there's always the old standby - Oregon. In Oregon it's against the law to pump your own gas. You could go there." "Yes, I suppose I could drive 30 miles to get full-service gas in Berkeley. Are you also suggesting that in order to get full- service, I have to drive alllll the way to Oregon, when I live in California?" Now that's real clear thinking. I wonder what has happened to have made people get so dumb that they can't understand such a simple concept? It really could be the vapors...

A couple of years ago, whenever I mentioned this situation to other strangers, I would always hear people say this. "It's a lot cheaper to pump it yourself. Haven't you noticed the prices?" "Uh, duh, I guess not dunce cap, tell me more...Haven't you noticed that the prices are so much higher now and we're still doing it? Now, what's your reason, Mister? Do you just enjoy the "fresh" air?" If you want to do it yourself, fine. Just don't make everyone turn into a grease monkey. The next thing you know, we'll be milking cows! This is progress?

I would rather drive on fumes than stop at the Do-Everything-Yourself-Station. It used to be called a service station. Now it's the Every-Person-For Themselve's-Station. "We don't fill the tank, check your fluids, check air pressure or clean the windshields." "We're sorry, we only sell potato chips, beverages, condoms and practically every ingredient for an entire Thanksgiving dinner except you'll have to substitute Spam for turkey, otherwise.... We don't pump gas, but we do sell Gas X for your convenience. Don't have Gas? Then go ahead and pass."

The other day I caught my husband off-guard and innocently asked him why we have drive-thru restaurants, drive-thru pharmacies, drive- thru donut shops or even drive-thru car washes. He looked at me and instantly said, "for convenience". I looked at him, folded my arms and said, "CASE CLOSED".

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