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Charlie Hatton
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I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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Pump This, Gasman!

Can anybody tell me exactly when gas station owners turned into slimy, money-grubbing weasels? Anyone able to pinpoint that one for me?

I just noticed it this week, but I’m pretty sure it’s been going on for a while. Here’s how I found out:

I needed gas yesterday, on my way to work. I usually go to a filling station near my house, but was already near the office when I noticed that old ‘Silver Betty’ was almost dry.

(Yes, I named the car. Yes, I call her Silver Betty. No, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

Moving on.)

Anyway, the stations near the house are full-serve affairs — most of the stations in Massachusetts are, for reasons that aren’t really clear to me.

(After all, it’s not like New Englanders are known for ‘friendly service with a smile’. So why insist on foisting often-surly gas attendants on us at every possible turn? It’s a mystery.)

“Well, I knew to avoid the single button — that’s always either diesel fuel or the extra-expensive, diamond-filtered, stored in gold-lined tanks, uber-octane six-dolla-a-gallon juice.”

Here’s the thing — I ended up hitting a gas station close to the office, and said station happened to be a self-serve jobbie. So I got out to pump my gas, with work and lunch and a dozen other things on my mind. To the pump I went, distracted and absent-minded, dreaming my dreamy little dreams. I swiped my card, and turned a small sliver of my attention to the buttons on the pump. There was a single button and a nozzle on the left, and four buttons and another nozzle on the right. Pretty much the standard gas pump configuration these days.

Well, I knew to avoid the single button — that’s always either diesel fuel or the extra-expensive, diamond-filtered, stored in gold-lined tanks, uber-octane six-dolla-a-gallon juice. That left the other four buttons, representing various octane grades and exorbitant prices. Fine.

So, I punched the first — meaning left-most — button, looking for ‘regular’ gas. In less expensive times, I might go a grade or two higher, but I’m not sure it’s really necessary, frankly. Betty doesn’t knock, Betty doesn’t ping, and she seems quite happy with regular-octane food. Plus, the ‘regular’ stuff they put out now is pretty pure — it’s not like the seventies, when filling up with regular meant a half-tank full of butane, methane, propane (and propane accessories), and a smattering of beaver spit. We’ve moved past that now. There’s almost no beaver spit in regular gasoline at all.

But imagine my surprise and chagrined frowny-facing when I took a closer look and realized that by pressing the ‘first‘ button — historically, the lowest-octane choice — I’d actually selected the highest octane, most expensive, sock-it-to-ya-wallet ultra-premium rocket-grade petrol. I’d been duped! Shammed! Shenaniganized!


Now, sure, if I’d paid a bit more attention, I wouldn’t have been in that mess. And, I wouldn’t have paid nearly sixty bucks for a tank of gas. I’d have still paid forty or so, but hey — gas prices are gas prices. I don’t begrudge the station managers the current going rate per gallon — that’s just part of the game. But to reverse the buttons, after years of going low-to-high octane, so creatures of habit like me (read: ADD-afflicted flighty douchebags) accidentally pick the wrong grade of gas? Now, that’s just fucking mean.

Anyway, I just thought you should know. They got me, but maybe it’s not too late for you. So take a close look at the pump the next time you buy gas, people. As soon as a few people wise up to their current scam, I fully expect these bastards to randomize the buttons altogether. They’ll probably switch ’em up from day to day, or change octane ratings into letters to confound us, just to screw with our heads. And our wallets. Slimy gas bastards, anyway. I’d like to stick a nozzle in their tank and pump. Bah.

Permalink  |  10 Comments

10 Responses to “Pump This, Gasman!”

  1. Sabrina says:

    I don’t know where in Mass you are but in my end of the state they are almost all self-serve with very few full serve stations…I would love to go full serve since I hate pumping my own gas!

  2. GrumpyBunny says:

    Well, that’s just hookery of the highest order!

  3. GrumpyBunny says:

    Or maybe lowest…

  4. picklejuice says:

    Yeah, it’s not like they have the grade posted right next to the nozzles in 100pt font or anything…yep, they sure are a bunch of tricky lil’ bastards, trying to hide the cheap gas from you.

    It’s enough to make me shake my fist in righteous indignation in the general direction of your dumb-ass. Next thing you know, you’ll be surprisingly blown up when you smoke while filling your tank. That’s something *else* they’re trying to hide from you – that gas is highly flammable and you shouldn’t smoke or run your engine while gassing up.

    Again, those bastards!

  5. I live in Midwest, end there is not too many full service gas stations. Honestly, I’ve never used one before. I always go to the “regular” self-serve. I like to finish pumping gas at exact amount of money :) no cents at the end. That’s my thing…

  6. P says:

    the last time i filled up out here in CA it was self-serve — and it still cost me over $40!

  7. Jeff A says:

    I though t the bastards were just doing that to me, thank God you told me this as I was about to go on one of those light-your-ass-up-for-ripping-me-off rampages. When, that would have been embarrassing.

  8. Lizz says:

    One of my boyfriends is from NJ. In NJ (or maybe just the part he’s from) it’s illegal to pump your own gas.

    Don’t ask me why. I don’t know what they’re afraid of. If I didn’t have to go to work in a minute I might make a post on my own damn blog about it.

    Anyway, he moves down to Florida. The first time he has to get gas here he pulls in, sits at the pump and waits. He even has a book. He’s there for about ten minutes before he even thinks anything about it. At that point he pumped his own gas.

    Don’t know why I felt compelled to share that with you.

    Going to work now….

  9. wlfldy says:

    (ADD – Afflicted flighty douchebags?) Doncha mean AFD?

    I haven’t seen full service in years…

    Oh, were we talking about gas stations?

  10. Courtney Gidts says:

    I’ve managed to save up roughly $14573 in my bank account, but I’m not sure if I should buy a house or not. Do you think the market is stable or do you think that home prices will decrease by a lot?

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