Relax, Oregon

Oregon just made it legal to have self-service gas stations. Much of the rest of the country is probably simply surprised that there was anywhere where you had to have a service station attendant pump gas for you. A few Oregonians are freaking out at the change.

“I don’t even know HOW to pump gas and I am 62, native Oregonian…..I say NO THANKS! I don’t want to smell like gasoline!” one woman wrote in a comment on a survey the new station posted Dec. 29.

You put the nozzle in the hole and you squeeze the handle. You’re welcome!

Of course, I have some special expertise here. When I was a kid, my dad worked at a gas station — just a gas station, no mini-mart, just a bay where you could get your oil changed or tires rotated, with a row of pumps out front, and I’d help out on weekends. You’d pull up, roll your window down, and I’d come running out with a chipper smile, and you’d tell me what you’d want — “fill ‘er up with $5 worth of premium!”, which, actually, would be enough to fill up a big tank — and I’d ask “Check your oil? Wash your windshield?”. I guess it was convenient for drivers to have someone tend to your iron chariot for you, but it was kind of soul-deadening for the attendant. Also, it was just required that we do that stuff, it’s not as if anyone ever tipped you for great window-washing or oil-checking.

I don’t think anyone should mourn the loss of jobs, or the rise of old people dousing themselves with gasoline. The former: those are lousy jobs. The latter: what kind of klutz are you? Also, everyone in Oregon who has driven out of state is totally familiar with self-service.

Although, I have to say, here in Minnesota in January I wouldn’t mind if could sit in the car and have someone else stand out there in the bitter cold and fierce winds and fumble with cold metal. But then that would be an even crappier job for someone than what I experienced in temperate Washington state.


  1. Erp says

    Well she could have a physical disability that makes it difficult or impossible to handle the pump though the article doesn’t mention it. The ADA does give them some recourse unless they are at a single attendant or no attendant station.

  2. rpjohnston says

    I thought…attendant-service gas stations…died out, like, ages ago? I vaguely recall that being an option when I was a kid living in Ohio and is probably why I compulsively avoid the pumps closest to the store but I thought they just plain didn’t exist anymore, anywhere, and hadn’t since long before I started driving.

  3. Bill Buckner says

    FYI there is no self-service in NJ.
    I also pumped gas as a teenager. It wasn’t a great job but it put money in my pocket. So I don’t follow your logic here, and your willingness to tell people not to mourn the loss of jobs that you view as lousy.
    If we still, like back in the day, had an option–self serve or full service where some kid is trying to earn a few bucks–I’d go to the full-serve every time.

  4. says

    There’s room for self-service and full service. I expect a couple places who continue full service will have a loyal customer base. There were times, back in the day, I would go to a full service station (SoCal), and I always tipped, by the way.

  5. says

    25 years ago, the company I worked for had four engineers come to work with us in California. One of the things they were excited to try was pumping their own gas. It was true then and I suspect it is still true now, but in Japan all gas stations have attendants.

    They were also psyched to rent American made cars, since they are rare in Japan. However, they were shocked at how hard it was to open the doors on their rentals — it wasn’t that the doors were that much heavier, it was that the hinge mechanism wasn’t nearly as finely balanced as on the models they were used to.

  6. OverlappingMagisteria says

    Don’t many stations have at least one “Full service” pump anyway where a person will come and pump it for you? If you really don’t know how to pump gas (or can’t due to disability) then you’d still have those.

    Now only NJ has to get rid of their “only professionals are qualified to pump gas” law…

  7. says

    vole @ 2:

    62, and never took her car outside Oregon?

    It would have been nice if you have considered what a moronic fucking comment this is, and decided not to post it. A lot of people never leave their home state at all. A lot of people leave their home state, but not in their vehicle. A lot of people leave their home state, in their vehicle, but are not the driver. And the fucking list goes on. I do not get this need to be unnecessarily judgmental.

  8. tomh says

    I’m a little surprised by the callousness. Don’t care about the people who lose their jobs because they’re lousy jobs? I’m in Oregon and know people who work in service stations. They don’t consider them lousy jobs. They consider them a way to put food on the table.

  9. jack lecou says

    FYI there is no self-service in NJ.

    Funny story: I moved from Oregon (where I had never driven outside the state) to DC (where I didn’t have or need a car). Shortly after, I was sent northward on a work trip, with a rental car waiting for me when I got there. Like the woman quoted, I was slightly apprehensive about figuring out the whole gas pumping thing for the first time in my life.

    Imagine my surprise when I pulled up for my first gas stop… In New Jersey.

  10. brett says

    I guess that just leaves New Jersey as the last state to require that you have someone else pump your gas for you. Oh well, I guess this was probably as good a time as any to pass this law, when unemployment is pretty low and the economy growing (more or less). There’s a bunch of low-paid jobs to go around.

  11. rabbitbrush says

    Years ago, I used to get gas at a Shell station in a small town on the way back to my place. In the winter, all the gas pump handles were enveloped in wool handle-cozies made by the station-owner’s wife. I loved that accessory. It was the only place I’ve ever seen that.

  12. Usernames! 🦑 says

    You put the nozzle in the hole and you squeeze the handle. You’re welcome!

    You laugh it off, but the dangers of untrained civilians attempting to fuel their own motor vehicles cannot be understated.

  13. laurian says

    Wait. Hanging out tinkering with cars, listening to the ballgame on the radio and shooting the shit with burly, greasy guys between fill ups doesn’t sound like that bad of a gig. I’ve had worse. Much, much worse

  14. microraptor says

    This is considered such a non-issue, the local news didn’t even list it in their list of laws that were changing at the beginning of the year.

  15. redwood says

    I remember living in Oregon a few years ago and there were more than a few gas stations where there were attendants “supervising” as everyone pumped their own gas. Also, in Japan now, there are many self-service gas stations so we have choices about where to go.

  16. tomh says

    @ #18
    I’m very surprised to hear that, since it was illegal for customers to pump their own gas, and most stations had signs to that effect. Living in Oregon for 30 years, I’ve never seen one where attendants “supervised.”

  17. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Re 18
    Every self-serve I’ve been at always had a button “ push for assistance” for the attendant to help.
    Re NJ
    Even having grown up in NJ during high school, when I return for a visit it is usually automatic to get out of the car to fill the tank. Always have to restrain myself to let the attendant fill it.
    Weird to hear of Oregon, I thought nj was sole holdout of self serve stations.

  18. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    But how can anyone possibly survive not being forced to sit and wait (and wait, and wait, and wait, and wait) for someone to come along and maybe eventually do something they’re perfectly capable of doing for themselves and still have to pay for?

  19. robro says

    I don’t like smelling like gasoline either, and sometimes it isn’t my klutziness that’s the problem. I think some improvements in gasoline pump technology are well over due.

    Attendant service stations began to die out in the early 70s, I think. For a long time, stations would have self-service lanes and attendant lanes, but you would pay a premium to get your gas pumped for you. I rarely see that any more, but there may be a call button for people with disabilities to get help.

    I don’t think pumping gas is a bad first job for a kid. Sounds like even PZ has some fond memories of it. I suspect that’s how my dad started, hanging out at the local service station because he was interested in cars, watching the guys work. He graduated from that to actually doing oil changes and other minor repairs, and eventually built race cars and went to tech school to become an automatic transmission mechanic.

  20. coragyps says

    When I was a teenager, Arkansas still required that the attendant pump your gas. And he was required to hold his lit cigarette behind his back while he pumped it, so it was way safer than it is now….

  21. davidnangle says

    I resisted changing over to self service until after I had to get used to filling rented airplanes with fuel.

  22. Brain Hertz says

    As an Oregon resident, I can’t say I’m happy about this. Apart from the (admittedly mostly minor) safety enhancements, it’s pretty much a job creation scheme.

    It doesn’t add anything meaningful to the cost of gas (the being amortized across a very large chunk of revenue) and the jobs that are created as a result are meaningful. Far from being “lousy jobs”, gas station attendant is one of the best paying low-skilled jobs available.

  23. ripplerock says

    Leaving the ethics of losing gas station jobs aside, I loathe full service gas stations. I’m from NJ and I dread getting gas when I return for a visit. Doing it myself is faster and no “full service” station I’ve been to in recent history will wash the windows. And this time of year, when my car is covered in a layer of salt, I always want my windows washed. I suppose I could get out of the car and do my windows while the attendant does the gas part, but that seems creepy to me, plus the attendants tend to get nervous if I leave the car — I wonder if they get a fine if somebody is caught self-fueling.

    My mother has never pumped gas herself and she travels quite a bit. She is just always with somebody who will do it for her.

    When I was kid, traveling to a self-serve station was an enjoyable novelty. I can’t say I really derive that same level of enjoyment now, but I still prefer to do it myself.

  24. vucodlak says

    There are millions upon millions of shitty jobs in this country. The most that millions of people can hope for now days is to find one (or often several) that they can tolerate. I’m sure that’s exactly “gas pump attendant” is for many people, who will now have to find something even worse. Like working in restaurant- I know which I’d prefer if given a choice between pump-attendant and waiter, and that’s even taking into account my paranoia about highly flammable things.

    I’m all for automation and the like doing away with every crap job possible, but FIRST there must be a minimum universal income in place. This law was struck down for the benefit of station owners, at the expense of vulnerable populations.

    So relax, thousands of Oregonians, you’re only getting fired to enrich people who probably have more money that you’ll see in a dozen lifetimes! Don’t worry; there’s plenty of even worse jobs out there that pay even less.

    Hooray for capitalism.

  25. aziraphale says

    I have been driving in the UK for 51 years and can’t remember ever having someone pump gas for me. The latest thing here is stations where you pay at the pump with a credit card, and can do the whole thing without any human interaction. I’m used to it now but it still confuses some people, because you have to switch attention between the pump’s screen and the card reader’s screen. Also, both can be impossible to read in direct sunlight.

  26. unclefrogy says

    a real full service station where the attendant did a real vehicle check like you are “supposed” to do on starting up the vehicle.
    check all the fluids, oil, water, break fluid, power steering, automatic transmission, battery level if possible, check tire pressure & belts and do the windows Not just pump the gas for you was something that had all but disappeared out here in Cal. long before any attendant would come to pump your gas for you so it was not much of a loss for the driving public when “full service” finally did disappear.
    uncle frogy

  27. says

    Most stations operating in Saskatoon are self serve. Exceptions are those run by Saskatoon Co Op, which offers both full serve and self serve lanes, and Domo, who are full serve only, using the slogan “Jump to the pump.” There are probably a couple of other independents that feature attendant service. I always pump my own gas, paying at the pump with a credit or debit card.

  28. Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer says

    vucodlak @27,

    I’m all for automation and the like doing away with every crap job possible, but FIRST there must be a minimum universal income in place.

    As an aside, it also annoys the hell out of me when people look down on “unskilled labor” (and similar terms). I count myself lucky to work in a well-respected academic field, so people really are deferential by default, but I know many people who do not have that luck. The way some of my colleagues talk about them is beyond the pale.

  29. Gorogh, Lounging Peacromancer says

    More on topic, I’ve never known any different than self-service on the gas station, it’s the norm here in Germany (I don’t believe there is a full service anywhere, at least, I haven’t seen it, and I’ve been around). In fact, I think there are far less service jobs in this country. Negotiating need and necessity is done differently across cultures and economies, for sure…

  30. docirysch says

    I live in Oregon and half the time you have to get out of the car anyway, either pay inside or lately places make you get out and put your PIN in for debit card. Might as well pump myself and be off quicker.
    Oregon also doesn’t have sales tax. Between these two I call it the Oregon handicap, whenever I leave the state I’m guaranteed to look like an idiot at some point.
    One interesting note, our gas is cheaper than either Washington or California when I drive to those places.

  31. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    robro @ 22:

    I don’t like smelling like gasoline either, and sometimes it isn’t my klutziness that’s the problem. I think some improvements in gasoline pump technology are well over due.

    The “improvements” are the problem. I never used to spill gas until these damn vapor-recovery nozzles came along. You have to push them–hard–against the car all the time the gas is flowing, and spilling some when you release is inevitable.

    But…mission accomplished, because no vapor comes out of the filler pipe. It all evaporates from the puddle on the ground.

  32. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    We did have our own peculiarity in Washington. When self-service became the norm, it was illegal to have that little rack to lock the nozzle open at self-service pumps, so they were all hacksawed off. I didn’t get the memo when they finally changed the law, so I’d stand there squeezing the handle like always until somebody finally asked me why I didn’t use the lock: “Because it’s illegal…say whut?”

  33. ftltachyon says

    I’m a little surprised at the backlash for jobs reasons. I’m not much of a fan of the government mandating random things just for the sake of creating make-work jobs to do those things. It’s not like full service is outlawed, either! Gas stations can absolutely keep full service lines if they want to!

  34. robro says

    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge @ #34 — I can’t refute the claim that vapor-recovery nozzles are part of the problem, although I recall gasoline dripping out of the nozzle since I first started pumping gas…probably in the early 60s. Wouldn’t it be possible for both worthy goals to be achieved in a single nozzle?

  35. tomh says

    “Gas stations can absolutely keep full service lines if they want to!”
    Sure, if they want to go broke. Self-serve stations have a higher profit margin.

  36. robro says

    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge @ #35 — We have a new wrinkle on the nozzle lock in California: some communities ban it, although most don’t. You never know until you start to pump gas and try to set the lock. I like the lock because it means I don’t have to grip the nozzle for long and I don’t have to stand over the thing as it emits fumes…the other problem with the vapor-recovery systems is they don’t appear to work well.

  37. Garcia says

    Okay, I’m 75 and live in Oregon. I have arthritic hands and fingers. The last time I pumped my own gas I was in my late 50s driving a car my cousin loaned me while visiting New Mexico. I pulled into a gas station and commenced to service myself when, honestly, I don’t know what happened, but the hose jumped out of my hands. I ended up spraying the whole gasoline station lot plus my cousin’s car. What a mess! People were shouting at me. No siree, I do not want to repeat that experience again.

  38. Usernames! 🦑 says

    Or even overstated??
    (Sorry to criticize, it is so easy over negate.)

    — richardelguru (#14)

    Thank you for the grammar tip, hopefully my IQ went up at least a point today so when I kill brain cells tonight I won’t feel guilty. :)

  39. vole says

    Canine @8:
    I have long been aware that a surprising number of US citizens do not have passports, but I was, and remain, genuinely surprised that a lady with a car could reach that age without having ever driven it outside her home state. It looks like insularity. Sorry if my reaction offends you.

  40. anchor says

    Where I grew up in the 60s it wasn’t called ‘premium’. It was called ‘ethyl’.

    And 5 bucks bought a lot of it.

  41. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    There are a vanishingly small number of full-serve places gas stations here in Alberta, Coop and Domo having a few full and a few self pumps are the only ones I know of. Esso(? I think) even has an employee-less station in Calgary, you couldn’t find an attendant there if you needed one. Usually the cheapest spot to get gas on the north-side tho.

    I know a lot of people who’s first job was at a gas station, learn to handle money, learn to deal with customers, learn to be responsible with potentially dangerous materials. Good starter responsibility job, bit of a shame to lose that. But I had a roommate who used his job at a full-serve station to steal over $125k from people’s credit cards, so… not all bad, I guess?

  42. DonDueed says

    It’s all moot anyway. Before too long, drones will be delivering your fuel (or electric recharge), automatically docking with your vehicle.

    Think I’m kidding? Nope. Google has patented the concept.

  43. JP says

    It looks like insularity.

    Either you’re being classist or you don’t understand how big Western States actually are.

    I grew up in rural WA state and we went across state lines all the time, but only because we lived within miles of the border and Oregon is cheaper for shopping.

    I also grew up working class/poor, and I never left WA/OR (except one trip to Alaska as a kid on a plane, oh and once to California on a plane with my aunt and uncle) until I was 20 years old and I took the bus from Olympia (my college town) to Vermont for an intensive Russian program.

    If you’re working class and don’t have a lot of money, you aren’t likely to be driving to other states for the hell of it, and if you ever do go on a trip, the distances are so great that you will likely take a plane.

  44. Onamission5 says

    @vole #2, #42:

    The state of Oregon is larger than the entire UK, and most of the population is crammed into one narrow corridor along with the jobs– there’s counties in the eastern portion of the state where the average annual wage is less than 12K (USD). The state contains one entire freeway which runs north to south, and most areas outside cities don’t have public transportation. Those who live in the further mountain or plateau regions might not be able to afford to travel hundreds of miles just to satisfy some urge to leave the state they were born in, howevermuch they may want to.

  45. vole says

    Fair enough; put it down to ignorance of US geography. Pretty startling to an outsider, though.

  46. says

    Pros and cons of the whole matter left aside, if you are acting like it’s doomsday coming about something everybody else is already managing fine, you sound both very ignorant and incredibly stupid.
    But it’s not a US thing. I remember English tabloids when free plastic bags were banned and German politicians when Plan B became prescription free.

  47. says


    I thought…attendant-service gas stations…died out, like, ages ago?

    Oregon originally made it illegal to pump your own gas as a measure to reduce their unemployment rates. Lousy or not, a lot of bloody jobs are, and they have had, as a result of this, and other similar measures, huge success at keeping their unemployment low. This is, to be frank, a bloody step backwards.

  48. davidc1 says

    @28 I have been riding and driving motorbikes and cars since the early 80s ,in the countryside there was still a few garages that
    were not self service .
    Are they still making you pay for your fuel before you pump it over in America ?
    Over here in GB there are a few places that do it .

  49. says

    Oregon originally made it illegal to pump your own gas as a measure to reduce their unemployment rates. Lousy or not, a lot of bloody jobs are, and they have had, as a result of this, and other similar measures, huge success at keeping their unemployment low.

    Are there any similar measures that provide employment for women with little qualification or is it just that everybody has to pay for a useless “service” to keep the men happy?

  50. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    A dose of reality for those few Oregonians who are lamenting the “good ole days” when a smiling gas jockey in a white cap would run out and pump your gas for you. I owned a service station much like the one PZ is talking about here. Though mine had a store section. I also had a vegetable area that I allowed local farmers to sell their wares at little to no cost. I’d get some free veggies, eggs and occasionally some baked goods. (This was many decades ago). Though I’m proud to say that I never sold cigarettes, even though they were lucrative. Even back in the day when doctors would recommending specific brands to you I knew the doctors were full of crap and so were the cigarettes. Anyway on to the dose of reality.

    There were some scams that an attendant might pull on a customer and at the same time give them exactly what they want. I won’t go into all the possible scams. But a good example is the oil scam, it was very simple.
    “Would you like me to check your oil” The attendant would ask.
    “Yes please” says the customer.
    “Okay, you’re a quart low. Would you like me to put one in for you?” Says the attendant.
    “Yes, could you?” responds the customer. Happy that the attendant caught that and they’re doing what’s needed for their vehicle maintenance the customer is feeling pretty good.
    The attendant goes to the rack of oil, grabs a bottle and a funnel and adds it to the fill.

    Except that customer has just been scammed. The cars oil level wasn’t low, he lied to them. The attendant grabbed an empty container that he’d been keeping on the rack and simply made a show of adding it. There are several things going for the attendant. For one, people seldom get out at a full service station. If the customer had been standing there they might have, just might have, noticed that when the attendant picked up the oil can (It came in cans back then but the scam is still prevalent today) it was already punctured and they just made a show of putting the filler neck on it. Today oil comes in plastic bottles and the scam is even easier because all they have to do is put the cap back on and use the empty bottle over and over. Unless the customer is standing right there paying attention they don’t notice that the cap didn’t “crack” open and that the foil was missing. That’s because they’re sitting in the their car and the hood is up, which means they can see very little of what’s going on. This is not Penn and Teller level illusion, very easy to pull off.

    So the attendant would only pretend to add oil and then pocket that money. Multiply that by however many times they do it and it wouldn’t be difficult to rake in a $100 a week or more. I’m talking 1970’s money here, that was a lot then. So, lots of financial incentive there. Finances wasn’t the only incentive to do it. Can you imagine how much more gratifying it is to pull that scam on someone you don’t like for whatever reason?

    Generally speaking the attendant knows who to pull this on scam on and who not to. That’s where certain attitudes pay off, like racism, ageism or sexism. If the attendant sees you as someone they identify with, lets say a white male. Who they think might be somewhat of a DIY backyard mechanic. They will be less likely to pull this scam, not only because they think that person is more likely to be hep to it, but they are generally more sympathetic to someone they identify with. They don’t want to see someone like themselves get scammed. So for instance if a guy in a pickup with loads of tools in the back pulls in, the attendant is less likely to try that scam. They’re more likely try it on an older woman. Or someone they didn’t like, say for instance if they were racist. I kid you not these are things I had to deal with as an owner. It irked the hell out of some guys to have to wait on black customers. You couldn’t keep that sort around because they’d eventually tend to start doing things to people they didn’t like to wait on. Yep, I’m going to digress here. I unwittingly hired this guy not knowing he hated catholics. So when the church service down the road got out and some came for gas he’d have a special blend of metal filings in some oil he’d set aside. Something he’s not going to do to people he knows from his church of course. People are nasty pieces of work sometimes.

    Attendants pulled the same scam on other items like drygas. They’d keep an empty bottle on the rack and ask people if they’d like the additive to remove water from their fuel system. Which back then was a thing that happened, when you got water in your gas, it’s not only bad for the cylinders because water does compress really, it tended to freeze gas lines in winter. So people tended to purchases it more back then than they do nowadays. But I digress.

    This would happen over and over as some new employee thinks they’ve figured out a great new scheme to make themselves some mullah. I would stop by frequently and do random checks and sure enough I’d find empty oil or drygas bottles on the rack waiting to be sold to unwary customers who think that this smiling gas jockey is the bees knees.

    Okay you get the idea and this is long enough. I think the point is made that the bygone era that some people lament over were just as replete with happy crappy as the world is today. More so in some ways. So if you’re tired of my rambling you’re not going to miss any more on that score. But here is one more scam.

    Filling propane tanks, like on your gas grill. Some attendants would regularly figure out that the gauges on a gas grill will show full at 4.2 gallons. (They’re notoriously inaccurate, those gauges.) But they would charge for the entire 5 gallons that a tank can hold. So they’d short the customer and at the shift break when they tallied up how many gallons were sold they could pocket whatever they overcharged the customer. It’s not unusual before a holiday to see 50 or 70 bottles waiting to be filled between breaks at the gas pumps. This scam varies widely. But an easy way around it is to know the empty weight of your tank and what it weighs when it’s full. On the side of the tank should be printed the TW weight. Generally around 18 to 20 pounds empty. Propane is around 4.2 lbs per gallon. Some places put in five gallons, some only four to be on the safe side. Nothing wrong with that as long as that’s what they’re charging you for.

    P.S. I’m not going back over this screed to check for typos, to correct for my rambling illiteracy or to convert our heathen US customary units for the rest of the world, sorry. So there it is raw, take it or leave it. Oh and this is not just employees that did this sort of thing. At some stations this was pretty much policy from the owner, who would split the take with the employees.

    P.P.S I bought an electric car back in 2014. Haven’t had to stand out at a pump since, which is nice. I just plug it in in the garage during the night. I’ve charged it on the road twice, but only for the novelty, didn’t really need to. IMO the writing is on the wall for internal combustion engine cars and that means your corner gas station too. They’ll be as common as horses in thirty years. A novelty.

  51. Bill Buckner says

    Are there any similar measures that provide employment for women with little qualification or is it just that everybody has to pay for a useless “service” to keep the men happy?

    What a strange comment in many ways. It seems to me that those of us who (rather mildly, I’d say; certainly not histrionically, nobody on here was likening it to doomsday) lamented the loss of gas-pumping jobs did not do so on the basis of keeping men happy, but in keeping people employed. (One of my gas-pumping colleagues was a woman, FWIW). Useless is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose, but there may be quite a few people who, for whatever reason, do not find the service (why is it in scare quotes?) useless.

  52. says

    If the overwhelming majority of those benefiting from a measure are male, then it’s obviously something that overwhelmingly benefits men at the expense of others.

    I suppose, but there may be quite a few people who, for whatever reason, do not find the service (why is it in scare quotes?) useless.

    AFAIK, they are not banned from offering the service. Actually, in Germany a few years ago one chain tried to re-introduce service. People (yeah, men) would pump your gas if you wanted to and then, if you were willing, they would hand you a card that added 1€ to your bill. To be honest, I hated that time. You couldn’t get out of your car fast enough to start before the dude came over, especially when you’re a woman, and then had to politely fight him off, with all those damn rules of politeness working against you.
    Apparently not enough people wanted and needed that service that they were willing to pay a buck for it, so they thankfully gave up after a while. I don’t see how forcing people to have that service (and pay for it. You don’t assume the money comes from the oil industry’s profits, do you?) is any good.
    Now, before you start with disabled people: Yes, they should have assistance free of charge.

  53. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    Onamission5 @47:

    The state contains one entire freeway which runs north to south

    I’ll agree with you about the lack of public transportation, but, having driven up the long hill from the Snake River to Baker City on I-84 on my way to forest fires, multiple times, and been pulled over for going the speed limit (rental vehicle, single male, SUV, going the speed limit, yeah, suspicious), there is an east-west route. But yeah, so much of the Eastern 3/4 of Oregon is miles and miles of beautiful miles and miles.

    I do remember pulling up to a pump in Baker City, hopping out to pump my gas, and the attendant, a kid of about 9 (okay, not that young, but there’s no way he was old enough to drive) told me he had to pump it. I said okay, paid with the agency card, and was on my way. Never even thought about it.

  54. vucodlak says

    @ Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-, #53

    Are there any similar measures that provide employment for women with little qualification or is it just that everybody has to pay for a useless “service” to keep the men happy?

    I can’t find any hard numbers that aren’t behind pay-walls, but welfare-to-work programs, which is essentially what this Oregon law was,* tend to be filled by people with the fewest opportunities. That doesn’t, generally, refer to white men, though you may encounter a higher percentage of white men (than are actually in the in-need pool) in some of those positions thanks to systemic racism and gender discrimination.

    Broadly speaking, I’m fairly certain that more women fill make-work jobs service jobs than men, from a combination of gender discrimination meaning certain kinds of jobs are treated as “women’s work” and the fact that women, and particularly women of color, are more likely to need these jobs thanks to a lack of opportunity (again due to discrimination). Pump-attendant is a job that is subject to a great deal of gender discrimination, but it still helps no one to simply get rid of the jobs. It’s hard enough to find enough work to make ends meet in this shit-hole of a country.

    Anecdotally, I would say the answer to your question is yes, with the caveat that I’m not certain that the following example exists solely for the happiness of men (nor am I convinced that pump-attendants do): In retail, women outnumber men at least 4 to 1 where I live. Automation is cheaper, and at least as easy to use as a self-service gas pump.

    Nevertheless, most stores in my area have at least half a dozen checking people on duty, at any given time, even on slow days. They also have automated lines, but those don’t see nearly as much traffic.

    From your #56

    AFAIK, they are not banned from offering the service.

    And “right to work” legislation doesn’t actually ban unions, but it kills them off just the same. Those pump-attendant jobs will evaporate faster than a puddle of gasoline, and prices will not go down as a result. The station owners will give themselves a nice raise, though.

    *Yes, I know that an actual, official welfare-to-work program receives government subsidies, and this one didn’t, but it fulfills the same purpose. It was make-work based on the ridiculous idea that a person must “earn” a right to live.

  55. Brain Hertz says

    Are they still making you pay for your fuel before you pump it over in America ?
    Over here in GB there are a few places that do it .

    Just FYI, as a general rule, anything including “…over in America” may be misleading. The US is a big place, and not just geographically; practices vary on many things state by state, and there’s a world of difference between (say) Oregon and Ohio.

    In Oregon, you can pay beforehand or afterwards, depending on whether or not you want to get out of your car. Other states are different…

    (incidentally, I’m a Brit, but I’ve lived in Oregon for the past couple of decades. I travel around the US a fair bit).

  56. says

    Those pump-attendant jobs will evaporate faster than a puddle of gasoline,

    That is because they don’t actually add anything.
    I’m all in favour of publicly sponsored employment, but it should be beneficial for the community. There are people who need real help.
    BTW, your comparison with retail is deeply flawed: self check-outs are a recent thing. Still having cashiers isn’t a government mandated employment that actually became obsolete 40 years ago.
    An equivalent would be still having to call the phone lady to make your connection, and they don’t exist anymore.

  57. vucodlak says

    @ Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-, #61

    What do you mean it “doesn’t add anything?” It adds jobs. Yes, they’re make-work jobs. Millions of jobs in this country fall into that category.

    As I’ve already said: what those jobs really are is welfare, because we can’t do anything as sensible as simply making sure everyone has what they need, regardless of whether they’ve “earned” it. This is a welfare cut. A small one, yes, but it’s still a welfare cut. Our social safety net is already crap, and Oregon has just made things a tiny bit worse.

    There are people who will lose their jobs, and possibly their only source of income, because of this decision. Some of those people won’t be able to get another one, because there already aren’t enough jobs for everyone. They’ll have a better chance of flapping their arms and flying to the moon than they will of getting on actual welfare in this climate. People will suffer because of this. Do you really think this won’t have a negative impact on the community? Do you think those people don’t need “real help?” Why?

    Because I honestly cannot see what your problem is with this. Yes, it’s a shitty, stupid way to do welfare, but don’t tell that to the defense industry. They employ millions of people to make crap even the Pentagon says we have no use for, most of which has absolutely no good use to the community. Except, of course, for the people who depend on the income from those jobs to survive. That’s what most of defense budget is- a giant, stupid welfare-to-work program.’

    Sure, I’d much rather those people were building hospitals and schools, roads and bridges, but I’m not ok with those jobs vanishing overnight with nothing to replace them. That’s what just happened on a much smaller scale. It pisses me off to see so many people here being so flippant about it.

    You don’t need to tell me the Oregon law was stupid. I’m well aware of that, but it was better than nothing, which is what some people will now be getting.

  58. Kreator says

    Down here in Argentina, self-service gas stations are banned all across the country, and I’m fine with that. The reason as stated by law is the need to have personnel with intimate knowledge of the station’s layout in case of an emergency and specific training in dealing with fires and other potential threats. It’s a job that actually pays well, thanks to the strength of our unions. You don’t have to pay extra or tip for the service, unless the employee offers you a bonus like cleaning your windows or checking your oil levels, in which case it’s the polite thing to do. Traditionally it was a job done by men, yes, but nowadays you’ll find a large number of women working in the area too.
    We also need to take into acount our large reliance on natural gas vehicles, which absolutely need to be handled by specialized personnel as that kind of fuel poses a significantly greater risk of causing severe accidents than gasoline. I remember that my own parents used to rely on cheap gas as a fuel during less fortunate times.
    So yeah, I’m disappointed and kinda hurt by this post, which makes me feel as if people in my country were all a bunch of retrogade troglodytes worthy of mockery.

  59. says

    The problems I have here are following:
    1. Welfare jobs that are not accessible to all (we already mentioned gender) are unfair and further inequality
    2. Make work jobs in a world where actual work is left undone is a horrible idea.
    3. I’ve personally just had enough of the perpetual “oh back in the days” laments. The world is changing. It always has. The generation that is now lamenting online shopping is tge same generation that killed the small independent stores, whose love for franchises killed small places.
    Ypu cannot calicify the state of being at some point in the1950’s.

  60. starskeptic says

    This change has actually been in use since December of 2015, reportedly after a state legislator got stuck in Burns on a Sunday night with no open stations. In early 2016, I would wait until the station would close and then do my own filling up – to the consternation of locals who weren’t aware of the change – in spite of signs. Several people were convinced I was robbing the place, one couple pulled up on the opposite side of the island…waited, and then drove off after realizing no one was going to be pumping gas for them. In early 2017, large placards were set up spelling out the specifics, namely that counties with 40,000 residents or fewer could pump their own gas.

  61. Bill Buckner says


    Ypu cannot calicify the state of being at some point in the1950’s.

    In my opinion, you made a mountain of a mole hill. I am obviously not speaking for others, but my take on the gist of the “pro gas pumping” comments was that they took aim at the callousness of the ”good riddance to these lousy jobs” attitude. There was not, as you imply, a lamenting of the disappearance of “the good old days” nor an expressed or implied desire to return to the 50s.

    Will you be as sanguine as more jobs become unnecessary? After decades of fits and starts regarding AI and robotics, we finally appear to be on the cusp of major social change, much of it involving the low-end workforce. Cashiers, fast-food workers, warehouse workers, professional drivers, construction workers, factory workers, etc. all seem to be at risk to varying degrees. If those jobs disappear will those of us who marvel at the technology yet lament the effect on the people involved be Luddites longing for the 1950s?

  62. says

    In my opinion, you made a mountain of a mole hill.

    There’s about three people arguing here with me about what great a loss it is but sure, I’m overreacting.

    Will you be as sanguine as more jobs become unnecessary?

    I am completely in favour of machines doing as much work as possible. I’m against all the profits going to the super rich.
    BTW, I’m from a steel town. I know the “but back then people had jobs” song too well.

  63. Bill Buckner says


    There’s about three people arguing here with me about what great a loss it is but sure, I’m overreacting.

    Yes, in re-reading, I see your point; I over-simplified and over-generalized your opposition. I apologize.