As I look at this vintage photo, is it my laughter I hear, or just coughs from the gas fumes I smell on my hands from this morning’s self-serve fill up? What, five servicemen attending a car’s every whim, and for free? Are those ceiling fans to keep customers cool in summer? Was this gas station ever on Earth?
Flash forward to the new and improved present day.
I drive in to the gas station and park at pump station #2. Walking inside the station, I notice the cashier’s sweatpants don’t exactly coordinate with his faded gas station tee-shirt, although I can still see his strategically placed forearm tattoos and sparkling earrings.
Equally bright are the Lottery tickets passed from the cashier’s hands to customers in front of me. It’s good to know even though I’m about to self-serve my gas, there’s not only Lottery tickets available here, but a full array of fresh foods the cashier can serve me when he has time – churros, pizza slices, hot dogs, chili – all kept warm by a light bulb inside a glass box.
Finally to the front of the line, I jokingly ask the cashier if the station has my car’s fan belt in stock and whether there’s any special on hub caps currently. He laughs. Is that because he’s never heard of a fan belt?
Once outside, I select my grade of gasoline from three choices (for me, that’s “Regular,” “Regular” and “Regular”), and place my hand around the nozzle’s dirty trigger. Nothing comes out. Hitting the intercom button on the pump, I tell the cashier my problem, but only hear static. I walk inside, wait in line, and watch hot dogs rotate. The cashier eventually resets the pump, but with great difficulty, mumbling something about “my manager’s not here right now.”
Dashing outside, I see an elderly woman trying to wash her windshield with the station’s cracked squeegee. In fact, my lane’s squeegee is sitting in a bucket of dirty water and the wash towels are out. However, the automated, canned recording coming from somewhere within the pump is in prime working order, the loud voice talking about points, rewards, and “checking them out on Facebook.”
Back to the photo with five happy gas station attendants and cooling fans. No wonder I don’t remember service like this from my childhood – the license plate reads 1938. Was service ever so complete? Things must have been so different then. What I remember were the gas stations that looked like the one below, complete with streamers, come-ons, free deals and advertising everywhere.
Funny, I saw much of the same on this morning’s fill up – generally just a lot of noise and hullabaloo about nothing, really.
Some things never change.
Photos, inspiration provided by Debra Marrs (www.yourwritelife.com). Thanks, Debra.