Oil and windshields

Gas Pump
Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass

As I noted earlier, the drive to Oregon and back provided a few lessons here and there.

Yesterday, we talked about the welcome. Today, it’s what comes after the welcome.

Oregon law requires that an attendant pumps your gas. That’s right, you *cannot* pump your own gas in Oregon. I don’t know the origin of this law, but I suspect there was an accident where a pump was left unattended and tragedy ensued. Update: I’ve been told (but not verified) that it is a jobs creation law.

When I was a kid, it was unheard of to pump your own gas, except on the farm. My grandaddy had his own tank and pump for his farm equipment, so occasionally that would get used for field equipment, but that’s the only time I remember seeing anyone pump gas when I was young. Retail customers at service stations never did so.

During visits to what was then called a filling station, the often-uniformed attendant would check your oil, clean your windshield and pump the gas.

Fast forward to this weekend. With each visit to gas stations in Oregon, there has been an attendant pumping the gas but no one has checked the oil, nor have they asked to do so, or cleaned the windshield.

When I pulled into a Safeway gas station in central Oregon on Saturday, a nice man came up and asked what I wanted pumped and then said “is the oil and windshield ok?”

That was as close as I got to what used to be called full service. I told him I wasn’t sure about the oil and left the question open. He never said another word. After a minute or so, I checked the oil myself.

I didn’t expect white glove service, and I’m not a local so the chance of me hitting that station again is pretty random…but imagine the difference if he had checked the oil (or pursued it further) and if he had cleaned the windshield.

You’d probably come back to that station, which means you’d probably visit that Safeway grocery in the same parking lot.

Is it worth it to provide that little bit of extra effort? I think so.

Imagine the other ways you could make the mundane act of getting gas into an experience. Each one is a little bitty magnet to pull that customer back and a little piece of uniqueness that might get them to talk about you to their friends.

2 thoughts on “Oil and windshields”

  1. There are some funny old laws out there still in use. I can’t imagine any petrol station in this country having attendants ready and willing to fill your tank up. Personal service is pretty dead right across the UK, it’s sad really. I’ll always go back to a place if i feel that I’ve had that little bit extra customer service, it doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it makes a huge difference.

  2. Yeah I went through Oregon one time and some teenagers were working at the station. Took like 15 minutes before they came out. They only came out because I started to try and pump it myself. It’s alway fun to reminisce of day when and talk smack about days now. đŸ™‚

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