Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Full Service Gas Station

Alright, that debacle from last Friday with the gas lines has me remembering the old service stations as compared to the new "mini-mart" stations where you get no help. So bear with me while I continue this theme.

Again, you older guys and gals can remember the way things were done when you filled the tank. You didn't have to do a thing except drive up and then pay at the end of your transaction. The neighborhood service station was a model of customer service. Once you pulled up next to the pump, the guy holding the nozzle pumped your gas, washed your windshield, checked your oil and maybe your air pressure, and sent you on your way. He wore a uniform, gave you a smile, and kept you from having hands that smelled like 98-octane or from getting grease on the sleeves of your shirt.

Today the full-service station still exists, especially when you drive over the bridge to New Jersey. Their state government still doesn't think it's a good idea for you to have an option to save a few cents on a gallon by pumping it yourself. Then again, that full-serve really isn't. What they call full-serve is merely the attendant pumping your gas. You get none of the other services. Hey, you can't even get a free road map or free air anymore. I won't be surprised if someday they charge us for driving directions when you pull in lost on your way to your grandma's house. Maybe by then GPS systems will be less money and you'll have one, not having to rely on directions that will have you driving in circles or leave you about 35 miles from your actual destination.

And You May Remember...
...The Sinclair station at 18th & Oregon Ave. It's a Dunkin-Donuts now, but at one time, you could see your friendly Dino the Dinosaur on the sign and pumps at that station.

...There were also two Esso/Exxon stations here that disappeared long ago. One was at Broad & Oregon, a subway station now sits there for the Broad Street Line. The other was at 20th & Oregon, now a Checker's burger joint. I remember a family member left his car running across the street from that station at an ATM once. When he went back to the car, it was gone. He left it in neutral with the hand brake on, and it slipped. It was funny hearing the attendant saying, "I thought he was coming in for gas until I saw there wasn't a driver." The car hit the wall, but no real damage was done. The car was reported stolen and we searched the neighborhood for almost a half-hour before realizing it was in the station. We laughed for a few hours more.

...Promotions: You could do everything from furnish your dinner table to plan a vacation with promotions offered at gas stations in the past. They still have their offers, just not as worthwhile as they used to be. I remember Sunoco had this NFL stamp album promotion that all of us boys bugged the attendants for. Whether we were football fans or not, we got our albums and stamps, the guy who got the stamps for all players on all teams was the one who was envied by all. Keep in mind we were about nine or ten years old, so yeah it was goofy, but then again, so are young boys.

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