Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Long time gone

Once upon a time, back in the days when gasoline cost less than 50 cents a gallon, you would take your car to the service station for fuel. Not a gas station, like you see today, but a service station. Because back then, the attendant would actually come out to your car and give you service, not sit behind bulletproof glass while monitoring a bank of pump readouts.

An attendant would come out of the station, greet you, fill your tank, clean your windshield (or scrape it in the wintertime) check your oil level if asked, then top off the oil if needed, then send you on your way with admonitions about the weather or other driving conditions of note. Needed directions? The person was an expert in the local geography. Air for your tires was free. Paying at the pump meant that you handed the attendant your money while never exiting your vehicle.

Service stations were run by individuals, not regional or district managers in search of ever escalating profits who eventually discovered that creating mammoth enterprises with twenty self-service pumps and a full size convenience store with an attached fast food franchise on a busy intersection could crank hundreds of cars through the lot in an hour. Sure beat the mom-and-pop enterprise with two or three pumps, a cooler full of sodas and a couple of metal chairs by the front door - where interaction with another human being was a part of the experience.

Progress, they call it.

Photo: Gus Klenke Garage, Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.


I need orange said...

Our library has switched to self-checkout.

Combine that with putting stuff on hold online, and the result is not only that I spend hardly any time in the library, but the relationships I've built up over the years with the staff will, inevitably, fall away........

I wonder how all of this will shake out..........

Wanda said...

Let's get back to "Service" stations. It was so nice to sit in the car, have them pump the gas, smile and wash your windows, and check you oil if needed, or put air in your tires. You handed them real money...not a credit card.

Did I just date myself???