Close Call


Oregon is one of two states where you can’t pump your own gas. When you pull into the station, an attendant asks how much gas you want, takes your card, and then pumps your fuel. In Oregon this rule is intended to preserve manual-labor jobs. The other place with this practice is New Jersey. In that state the law came about because people were having so much trouble figuring out to how use the pumps.


It’s a cool practice in my opinion. You really appreciate the service when it’s raining or super-cold, which pretty much describes Western and Eastern Oregon respectively in the Fall and Winter. But this fueling law doesn’t come without its challenges.

One time when I lived in Oregon I pulled up to the pump. When I rolled down the window the attendant grinned and said “Paper or plastic?” I thought that line was great, and we chatted for a second.

So I handed the guy my card and he went off to pump the gas. But then something happened that frequently happens to me – I flaked out. A minute or so after interacting with the attendant I thought for some reason that I had just finished pumping my own gas and was now ready to leave (don’t ask, my Dad smoked indoors, I blame him). So I turned the car over and started to leave.

Someone shouted “STOP!!!” A second later the attendant was standing in front of my car, shouting and waving his hands. He looked angry. And my first thought was “What is this guy’s problem?”

Then I figured it out. I glanced in the side mirror and saw the hose fully stretched between the pump and my tank. I was inches away from creating a haz-mat situation. And also from having to find another station to use in the future.

I hope they pay those attendants well, because I know I’m not the only Flaker out there.

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9 thoughts on “Close Call”

  1. You and I must have been separated at birth. I haven’t driven a car in decades, but I could picture myself nowadays doing something just like that.

  2. I cannot say that I have ever “flaked out”, but I will admit to driving all the way to NJ to fill up just to hear the attendant say, “Creds or Debs?” It confuses them when I respond in English.

  3. I don’t know if I would like Oregon. A man likes to pump his own gas sometimes.

  4. Now in my neck of the woods, we all pump our own gas. Well, almost all. I have received the same “STOP” scolding for trying to pump gas in a “full service” establishment. Glad you didn’t take that pump home with you!

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