Wednesday, March 6, 2013


I used to love to go to the filling station with my Mother.  When we pulled in under the big, beautiful sign with the flying red horse (with wings) a gas station attendant would rush out to the car and say, "Fill 'er up?"  Then  he'd ask "Regular or Ethyl?" 

The man would wash the car windows, front and back, and check the air in our tires too.  He'd check the fluid levels in the engine and use the mysterious dip stick and a red rag to see if we were running low on oil.  If we were, he'd remedy that on the spot by grabbing a can of oil that was sitting in a pyramid right by the pumps.  The whole event was handled professionally and took just minutes.  It cost Mom the change from her purse, pennies a gallon. 

A garage was attached to the filling station with a sign that said, "Mechanic on Duty."  If the car were making funny noises (or the steering pulling one way or the other) it would be driven into the bay and lifted sky-high.  Mechanics wearing white coats would examine the car and perform the necessary surgery right there in the car operating room while we waited.  They fixed flat tires there too.

I thought about this today when I went to the gas station.  No attendant rushed out to greet me.  No one washed my windows, checked fluid levels, the oil or the air in the tires.  I had to pump my own gas.

Instead of a mechanic on duty, there were two teenagers behind the counter inside the convenience store.  I waited in line behind guys buying lottery tickets then paid my twenty-five dollars.  It didn't even fill my tank to the half-way mark.  When I got back into my car to leave, my hands smelled like gas.

I realize I'm being nostalgic, but would somebody explain to me how this is progress?


Unknown said...

I know that this dates me but... I used to work in one of those Full Service Filling stations when I was... younger. There are not many full service stations around but you can still find one in downtown Charlotte right by Presyterian hospital. Loved the memories your article stirred in me... Thanks, Charlie

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