A car pulls up, uniformed attendants rush out and not only fill the tank, but check the tire pressure and oil, and wash the car's windows. What is this? This is common sense and professional courtesy of the 1960s, called a full service gas station. The first rule in any successful business is customer service, except, of course, with today’s gas stations. What happened? |
The oil crisis of the 1970s marked the beginning of the end for the full service station. Oil companies figured that customers wanted to pump their own gas at slightly cheaper prices, eliminating the need for attendants. Also, the process of getting gas at a full service station took about 10-15 minutes, which by today’s standards is considered too long.
There are two states, New Jersey and Oregon, where it is unlawful to pump your own gas. In New Jersey, the state legislature decided in 1949, that "because of the fire hazards directly associated with dispensing fuel, it is in the public interest that gasoline station operators have the control needed over that activity to ensure compliance with appropriate safety procedures.” In Oregon, a similar law was passed in 1951.
Many people enjoy not having to get out of the car with the risk of smelling like gasoline for the rest of the day after pumping their own gas, but are not really concerned about blowing themselves up. When they cross state lines, they still must pump their own gas, so there-you-go.
The elimination of full services gas stations was just another subtle change that started in America after the decade of the 1960s, not to mention the elimination of, “Blue Laws”, which were in place in many states, that prohibited most types of businesses from being open on Sunday’s. In the town in which I grew up during the 60’s, most gas stations chose not to be open on Sunday’s, seeing it as a day of rest.
In the days they were open many of them offered full service auto repair and were hangouts for local citizens to catch up on the latest news. They were places where children could come with a few cents in their pockets and get their daily supply of candy and sodas. Full service gas stations seemed to be on every corner. I can only remember one self service station in town, which sold an off brand of gasoline, and was the only station open at night.
Back in the day the gas station attendant seemed to take pride in their work. They enjoyed working with people and greeting them. It was a piece of American culture. This still stands true in any small retail business today, that is, if they want customers to come back. Why is it that the same people, who demand customer service in small businesses, are willing to fore go it with national gasoline chains and other large chains? It makes no sense, yet it is true with most of us. Vintage Jammer
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