Mechanization Is A Feature Not A Bug: Part 3

Examples where our robot overlords have made life better:

Self Serve Gas: There was a time when all gas was full serve. A friendly and professional guy in a spotless service jacket would pump your gas, wash the windshield, check the oil, and put air in your tires. You know where I remember that from? The movies; probably “Back To The Future”. In real life you didn’t get a gas bellhop. You got a surly hassled sleazebag that had better things to do. Lets assume you got Gladys’ grandson Spike.

Spike was trying to hammer out a dent in the rocker panel of a 1972 Travelall. He was getting nowhere. Why? Because assholes like you kept showing up and interrupting his work to buy $10 worth of gas. He’d glower at you while shoving a hose in the tank and filling it with leaded gas that was apparently making everyone stupid. (Which explains a lot.) He’d smear a greasy rag across the window like a homeless guy at a stop sign. He wouldn’t check the oil. If you asked, he’d open the hood, do nothing, and then slam it shut and say “it’s fine”. He’d do that even if the engine had run out of oil an hour ago and was a white hot molten mass.

If Spike was a go getter, he’d size you up to see how stupid you really were. “Looks like you’re dripping transmission fluid, want me to look at it” he’d say. “That’s the tailpipe.” You’d respond.  Nice try Spike.

Then you’d try to pay with a check and Spike would get indignant. “I haven’t got time to go to the damn bank.” At which point you’d drop the clutch and peel out of there because you really really didn’t want to hear more of Gladys’ stores about cats.

One day Spike was replaced by a soulless machine. I was delighted. Spike was too. He  finally got the time to fix that rocker panel. You know what the soulless machine does? It dispenses gas. It doesn’t try to up sell you for a new air filter or make fun of your heap of a car. I can get gas for my motorcycle in 2 minutes flat without ever lifting my mirrored visor. It took Spike that long to crawl out from under a car. The future is now.

There is an exception to self serve gas. All residents of Oregon, by statute, are too stupid to pump their own gas. It’s a law. It probably has something to do with legalized pot and organic arugula. It’s tragic. I feel for their plight. Someday, possibly with rehabilitation and training, citizens of Oregon will master the technology of self serve gas like every other human being in the civilized world. Until then, Spike lives in Oregon. He will spill gas all over your hot motorcycle engine and drop your credit card in a mud puddle. He smells funny and hates you. If it’s Sunday, or an evening, or too early in the morning Spike won’t be there and the gas station will be closed. You will run out of gas in the desert and die. Spike still doesn’t want your damn paper check.

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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7 Responses to Mechanization Is A Feature Not A Bug: Part 3

  1. cspschofield says:

    New Jersey also believes that its residents are too stupid to pump their own gas. To be fair, the politicians of New Jersey may have a point, although since they are also from New Jersey it’s odd that they were bright enough to notice.

  2. Doctor Mingo says:

    First time in Oregon filling up, i pull into the gas station. A guy comes out and asks me how much I want.
    “That’s ok. I got it.” I said. What is really going through my head is, F___ off. No one touches my truck except me!
    Then he said, “But it’s the law.”
    The concept of service at a gas station was a foreign concept coming from California. I guess that is why no one calls them “Service” stations anymore.
    “I prefer to spill my own gas, Thank you.”

    • Once I stopped at Oregon after riding my motorcycle across the desert from the free state of Nevada. I’d forgotten that once you cross the state line you’re suddenly brain damaged about buying fuel so I had my guard down. I was setting my bike on the side stand when some tool with a gas hose reached between my legs and spilled gas on the tank (which was still locked shut); including dribbling it all over the hot engine and me too. Nobody deserves an unleaded crotch bath! Imagine if your only job was to fill gas tanks on vehicles and you suck that bad at such a simple job!

      I didn’t kill him but I’m sure it would have been justified.

  3. PJ says:

    I feel I must repair the besmirched reputation of Oregonians.

    What happened was that one day, some oaf filling his tank with a cig in his mouth, managed to torch himself. Most of us would just say, “Darwin at work.” But no, politicians decided (as they always do) to protect us from ourselves. Nobody in Oregon actually asked for this – except perhaps the gas monkey lobby which was probably not a big power in Salem anyway. All states are just one torched customer away from this exact same fate, so do try not to feel so superior. BTW, for motorcycles, gas attendants remove the hose from the pump, hand it to the customer, and let you fill your tank in peace. Silly to not let you just grab the hose yourself, but that’s government for you. At least diesel customers can still fill their own tanks.

    • Regardless of stated intent (and a single burned up dumbass is a stupid reason) I’m pretty sure the true intent was economic.

      Self serve benefits small gas stations. Mandatory extra labor benefits larger setups. It’s more or less impossible to employ someone to “manage” a couple of gas pumps. It’s easy to employ a herd of flunkies to pump gas for a thirty seven pump superstation. Big companies prefer fewer larger (more efficient) stations to more and smaller.

      Once they stampeded a “safety” regulation through the gate they’d moved the market to their liking. Without the regulation they’d have to expand hours of operation and number of locations; who wants to waste time with all that “service” and “competition”? That’s crazy talk!


      You’re definitely right that we’re all just one regulation away from “suddenly becoming too stupid” to do stuff that we normally do without mishap.

      If it makes you feel better I don’t think Oregonians are worse than any other people. I just love to phrase regulations in a negative way. Try it sometime: New Yorkers are such idiots that they can’t talk on a cell phone in a car. Folks from Massachusetts, NYC, Chicago, and California are raging maniacs that can’t be trusted with a pistol. Folks from Oregon can’t pump gas because they’ll set themselves on fire. Getting a beer in parts of Utah or North Carolina is a bitch because apparently they’re on the cusp of drunken misery at all times. In most states you can have fireworks but Minnesotans can’t be trusted with anything bigger than a sparkler. Folks from California can’t do… anything. Etc…

      We’ve been trained to discuss regulations and limits on freedom with a different tone than my irreverence. It makes them seem more palatable.

      On a related note, writing the national debt as “$17,656,324,345,345.45” has a different feel than a light and airy “$17 trillion“. I suspect we’d think differently if we typed 16 digits every time the debt was discussed. So that’s how I type it.

      As always your mileage may vary and Oregon is a fine state for a motorcycle trip… just watch out for that one dickead that’s always running a speed trap in the middle of nowhere west of Riley. That guy’s a tool.

      • PJ says:

        “I’m pretty sure the true intent was economic…. Big companies prefer fewer larger (more efficient) stations to more and smaller.”

        Good point. I believe you are correct.

  4. Pingback: Mechanization: Video Epilogue | The Adaptive Curmudgeon's Blog

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