Pump It Up

People in Michigan are prone to complain about two things—the weather and gas prices, but for good reason. Our weather can be ridiculous, and as of last week we had the third highest gas prices in the country. So when it’s 95 degrees or we have 100 inches of snow and gas is $4.10/gallon, it’s best to stick to safe topics like religion or politics.

But with that said, gas is a necessary evil. Seeing as I can take a seemingly routine vehicular activity and turn it into an issue of sorts, it’s not a surprise that pumping gas is no exception.


I really don’t remember a time when we could pull up to a pump and have a smiling face come out to fill ‘er up. Today I pull up to one of the pumps—careful not to pull up too far, as to prevent someone from using the one in front of me—and if someone did approach my car, smiling or not, I would lock the doors and then either prepare my awesome ninja skills or start the car and drive away.

Because it’s all pre-pay now, I usually opt for the pay at the pump option. At this point, the cashier’s voice comes over the intercom like some sort of omniscient gasoline god and greets me and I’m left wondering what I should do. Do I say “hi” back, not knowing if they can hear me but well aware that I just shouted, “I’m fine! Thanks for asking!” out to a semi-vacant parking lot?

Forget the meaning of life. These are the questions that need to be asked.

But there are times my card can’t be read for whatever reason and I have to go in the store and manually pay for the gas like it’s 2010. The cashier that greeted me so warmly before will ask me what pump I’m at and then immediately express complete annoyance at the fact that I’m not prepared and have no idea, opting instead to point to my car at the pump.

Knowing I need him more than he needs me, I smile warmly and silently regret my decision not to carry on a whole conversation at the pump via intercom just moments before.

The attendant then (deeply sighs and) activates the pump, at which point I begin the walk of shame back to my Blazer and proceed with the process at hand, making a mental note of what pump I’m at and carrying on a compensatory conversation with the attendant via an intercom that I’m 99 percent certain is no longer on.

Better safe than sorry, and talking to yourself at the pump will deter any weirdos from approaching your car.

But sometimes actually going into the store and pre-paying for gas is quite helpful, as it will stop the pump at an exact amount and I can attempt to clean my windshield during the pumping process. If forced to pump on my own, I’m pretty sure I spend an extra $10 just trying to get the pump to end on an even amount.

Plus, one day last week the cashier jokingly carded me when I was forced to go inside to buy gas. He was about 112 years old with five teeth, but we’re going steady now—until he brings up the weather.

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29 responses to “Pump It Up

  1. My part of the country is big on full service stations. So I do not know your struggles in this matter. Though I know that if I was responsible for pumping my own gas, it would likely end in disaster.

  2. I don’t remember the last time I saw a full service station! I loved this post and am glad that you are now going steady.

  3. There’s a small gas station near LO’s cottage that still has people pump it for you. They look about 12 and usually have a full arm sleeve of tattoos and they never let me use the bathroom even though I KNOW there HAS TO be one in there somewhere.

  4. Ah in New Jersey they still pump your gas for you… which is more annoying because you have to wait for them BY LAW.

    • Seriously? So weird. Plus, I don’t know that I would be comfortable having someone pump my gas if I’m physically able. That would feel weird…until it’s -10 degrees in the winter. I think I could get over that quickly.

  5. Having spent quite a few years working at my father’s gas station, this cracked me up!

  6. You forgot the part where the pump runs out of paper, so you have to go inside to get your receipt. To which I just think, “If I wanted to go in, I would have just paid inside!”

  7. I miss driving. I actually miss pumping gas, can you believe that? Sometimes it’s nice to remember to interact with people – even if they are 112 and have no teeth.

  8. The gas there is almost as expensive as here in California, and we are known for being gouged. I drive very little so luckily that part of my budget isn’t as scary as say: my organic veggie/local hormone free meat budget.

  9. Oh for the days when gas was $4.10 a gallon. I’m Canadian, we pay $4.75 and it’s been higher than that before. :o)

    • I know. I realize we’re lucky in some respects, but there’s no reason for the prices to go up 40 cents one day for no reason. It’s so frustrating.

  10. “go in the store and manually pay for the gas like it’s 2010″… here in Oregon we have to let someone pump for us, like it’s… 1980? if that’s the biggest thing I have to eye roll about, I’m okay. plus, if I drive the majority of the time whenever Jason and I are together, he pays for my gas.

    so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

    no, really, I know how huge that is, it takes an average of $75 to fill Tillie. that’s just wrong.

    • You have to have someone pump the gas for you? Until I published this, I had no idea that was a normal thing. Maybe we don’t here because the winters suck and no one would want to come out and do it? At any rate, heck yeah for Jason doing the gas thing! 🙂

  11. Full service doesn’t exist in the south….wait, not at gas station “other places”, maybe.

    I work in the northeast right now – pennsylvania, new jersey, marylans still have a lot of full service stations. I love them. I can tweet how awesome having someone pump my gas is.

  12. Sadly, so true. One of the many reasons I avoid talking to my fellow Michiganderainians when I’m out in public.

    You reminded me of a time, early in my driving career, when I started pumping gas and it stopped working about 10¢ in. I hung up the nozzle and started over (after having A LOT of trouble). Gah, that dude was so annoyed that he had to charge me in two separate transactions (especially since one was only 10¢). Then, to make it worse, I tried to make small talk by informing him that his pump was running out of gas (?!? – as if I knew what was wrong with it) and he (loudly) informed me I’d had the hose kinked up.

  13. Since I live in NJ, I have NO IDEA how to pump my own gas. I would HAVE to pay someone to do it for me!

  14. Big congratulations on your blossoming relationship.

  15. Pay at the pump is the best thing that’s ever happened to this antisocial introvert. Now the “store” is just the place that houses the most disgusting bathrooms in America. But I’m not sure I would ever use a toilet-at-the-pump.

  16. Abby, you would love Oregon- we’re one of the last two states that still has gas station attendents. You never leave your car. And no tipping. I find it weird as I’ve pumped my gas all my life and it feels like being waited on but it’s an institution here and they’ll never vote it out.

  17. many gas stations here in norway dont even have people, just pumps where you pay, and sometimes there are voices coming from them, like robots… pretty freaky, l must say

  18. Gas and the weather…. two things my mom feels it’s necessary to mention in every correspondance we have. Even in texts. “Love you. Gas is 5 cents higher this week and the grass is dead.” Ok mom… love you, too…

  19. Last time I was in PEI I could only find one pay at the pump station, and I would plan my day around making sure I could always get to that station when I was in need of gas. Not only do I loathe going into the store to talk to the clerk, in PEI everyone who goes in wants to have a grand ol’ chat with the clerk so it takes for frickin’ ever to get out of there. Far too much mingling with strangers.

    Also, when I first started driving (at age 28. Go me!), I was afraid of getting gas. I made my driving instructor teach that bit to me as well. And I must say, the fact that not every gas station has the same pump mechanisms pisses me off. Some of them require flipping of levers and some of them don’t and OMGWHYDOESITHAVETOBESODIFFICULT. I will always remember that clerk trying to inform me through gesticulations in the window that I was being a daft idiot. When I went inside to pay she ever so kindly informed me she was about to come inside to just show me when I finally figured it out. Bet she got to make fun of me to her friends and family all week. Awesome times.

  20. Ahh, getting carded it is the best. I keep hoping it will happen to me again.

  21. Hey, anything is worth a date with a toothless old man! So funny we both talked about gas stations this week!

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