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RaggedOleMan 09-20-2010 04:48 PM

A hand full of give me, and a mouth full of much obliged...
Reading a recent post by someone on another forum, regarding the joys of living in a small town, compelled a recent resentment of mine, back to nurturing status...

The "service stations" as they were called in my youth, always had someone on hand to fill the tank, clean the windshield, check the oil and/or just bs with me and/or my old man for a while, as the tank was filling, or my tire was getting patched... We had a Phillips 66 and a Mobile across from each other in my neighborhood.

I could ask the mechanic on duty for a hand fixing what ever ailed my bike, the chain came off or the tire was flat...I could use the bathroom with a key on a piece of lumber, or a big hunk of metal or something...

After I turned 16 and got my first car, many of us would meet a buddy who worked at the "service station" and bs, tinker with our car(s), talk about the girls we fancied, where the party was at...whatever else adolescents talked about back then.

The gas stations dealt in cash & checks. They had a gazillion fan belts, and exhaust tubing hanging all over the walls, huge tool cabinets with tons of stickers on them and if you opened one up, there was a pin-up girl under the lid to greet you...

Soda's were a dime, and came in a bottle. The service station attendant always had a bottle opener in his jack knife or on his key chain, and a greasy old rag hanging from his back pocket. He knew us by name, drove us out when we were pestering him or his customers, and welcomed us in the cool of the summer evening with a joke, a coke or just flipped us some poop...


Recently I stopped at the gas station where I've been filing my tank for years, to fill up. The pump had a problem with my debit card on this particular evening, and the instructions written on the little screen at the pump, said I had to go see the I did. He may have been American, but he didn't look like me, didn't speak much of my language, and had never taken notice of me in all the times I visited his pumps. I was a stranger to him, though his company had become quite familiar with the digital transfer of funds, from my checking account to his, all these years...but, "I" was a stranger to him...

"The pump says I need to come see you. Evidently it's having a problem processing my debit card." I said after the gentleman finally abandoned his work on the back counter, and came to find out what I wanted.

"How much gas you want?" He said.
I said; "I want to fill it up."
"How much?" He said a second time.
"To the top..." I was still in a good mood at this point.
"How much you want?" He says for the third time.
"I want to fill it." I repeated...
"How much you want..." He said for the fourth time...

Okay, now I'm gettin' pissed. "I want to fill it up. I don't know how much that will be, I just want to fill it up."
"How much you want?" He says for the last time, as far as I was concerned. I wanted to reach over the counter, rip off his head and poop down his neck! "I come in here 2-3 times a week and fill up, why can't I fill up my tank now?" I said this in a wee bit of an elevated tone.

"How much you want?" God...frickin'...Argghhh....I don't recall exactly what I said at this point, but it was less than cordial. I stormed out in self righteous indignation, uttering all kinds of unpleasant things. Once back at my heep, I tried again to swipe my card, and this worked.

I want to live in a small town. Now.

bisjoe 09-20-2010 07:45 PM


Originally Posted by RaggedOleMan (Post 12707)
I want to live in a small town. Now.

That won't help, small town gas station help is not any better these days, you can only hope to find a time machine.

I worked in a gas station one summer when in high school. I pumped gas, cleaned the windshield, checked the oil. Even did a few repairs on the spot.

Oh, and my first car got 9-10 MPG but I could fill it for $6.

RaggedOleMan 09-20-2010 08:01 PM

Small town won't help? Horse pucky...

$6 to fill it up! During the gas wars of 1973, I recall it going down to .19 a gallon in Tacoma. My 1963 Ford Falcon Futura 6cyl/170 ci could get a belly full for well under $4. That $4 barely buys a gallon, now...

bisjoe 09-25-2010 08:06 AM

The lowest I can remember was 25 cents a gallon, in 1974 I was in the SF Bay Area and it was still in the low 30s. I had a '63 Ranchero, 170 and 4 speed, but bought it in 1996, restored it and drove it for several years, then sold it and bought a '72 El Camino that got 10 mpg but was fast. Sold that when gas got to $4, in 2006 I think?

skiandgolf 09-27-2010 03:18 AM

To the OP, why would you try your card again? If that is all the better you were treated, why would you continue to put dinner on this mans table? Just food for thought.

jeepcache 09-27-2010 08:07 AM

come to north dakota!

Jake7 09-27-2010 03:58 PM

Haviland, KS - I went through that town for a few months, and fell in love with it. Full service gas stations still exist, they're just rare :)

Haviland's got just a few hundred people, most of whom still remember the old way.

Mochisme 10-01-2010 11:28 AM


Originally Posted by RaggedOleMan (Post 12707)
The "service stations" as they were called in my youth, always had someone on hand to fill the tank, clean the windshield, check the oil and/or just bs with me and/or my old man for a while, as the tank was filling.

My wife says she still has no trouble finding this service where ever she goes, big City, little town, cross roads, what ever. The attendant is called "Her Husband", and he provides all those services. LOL

Yes I hear you, Most are not called "Service Stations", they are "Gas Stations", or "Fuel Stops" and "Mini-Marts". Service with a Smile is out of date these days. I recall all of the things you do and maybe more ($0.11 Per Gal during Price Wars in the 50's) and have had that same experience with the counter person at a "Gas Station-Mini-Mart", but I drove off to another "Gas Station" and have not been back to that one since even if his price is lower then where I do go.

I keep getting confused in Oregon where it is mandated by State Law that you can not Self Serve your fuel, but that is all the person will do is pump fuel, No Checking Oil, Cleaning Windows, or even Shooting the Sh*t most of the time.

matt97862 10-05-2010 02:06 PM

While the "service station" may be a thing of the past, I do live in a small town, and work in another, and I find myself going out of my way to "fill 'er up" where I am recognized. There are three fuel stations in the area that I live in where the employee's remember who I am no matter how often I go in there. It also seems that those are the stations where the employees seem to be happy and they seem to keep their job. Living in Oregon, we have attendants that have to fill our tanks, but it's rare to find one where the attendant will do anything more. I go to one particular station because I can pull in, and the attendant walks past my window saying "I know, fill it with regular and a carton of smokes". :-) Being predictable isn't always a bad thing...

electromage 10-08-2010 12:04 PM

Just hearing about how it was is enough to make me miss it, although I never got the chance to experience it. I've grown up in this society of "efficiency" and it does get to me sometimes. I definitely see the value of face-to-face interactions. There is so much to communications that gets lost through email, text, and even telephone.

I run a PC repair shop and I try to treat all of my customers like a guest. Sometimes people respond well and get comfortable, sometimes not. I see patterns that make me think it has a lot to do with the influx of people from different cultures. The above story speaks to something very American. As people from different parts of the world, such as Asia and Africa mix with our culture, and start their own businesses, it really changes the norm. For instance we get a lot of people in here that think it's acceptable to haggle with us over our prices, and will get very upset if they think we're trying to cheat them out of $5.

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