Anne Martens

If there's anything I hate more than bicyclists wit' attitude or not having a sales tax, it's not being able to pump my own gas. The mighty O was exultant this morning that Oregonians treasured "mini-serve" actually doesn't cost more! To which I reply, with sneer and humbug and the airs of one who isn't frightened of other states, so what.

Oregon and New Jersey are the only states where we are not permitted to pump our own gas. The O calls this "quirky." It's not quirky. Quirky is that cute girl at the MAX stop with the big headphones and striped socks. An outright ban on doing something for yourself that you are perfectly capable of doing is not "quirky," it's stubborn and retarded.

It turns a five minute detour into a fifteen minute detour, as the pump jockey meanders at the speed of molasses. It makes me feel fat and lazy as I sit on my ass so that some poor kid can wait on me. It has caused the loss of at least three gas caps. I would gladly pay extra pennies per gallon to avoid all of these annoyances.

Oh, but the true believers cry – jobs for the jobless! Like being a pump jockey is a great job that's really improving the lives of all Oregonians. It pays just enough for you to afford the meth, and sucks just enough for you to really want it.

Oh, but what about poor grandma who can't figure the complexities of the gas pump and would be stranded ever after at the Arco! I heard ('twas before my time) that this scenario was actually a commercial running the last time Oregon considered being self-sufficient at the self-serve, and people actually bought it. Don't believe the hype - the evidence from other states is in, and grandmas, too, can do it for themselves. Or they can hit up the full-serve, or just ask for help. It’s not that hard.

One thing is certain. Oregonians cling like leeches to whatever makes them different from other states (yay – we come in second to New Jersey in gas, gambling, and big bangs) so Oregon will remain rugged, active, and individualist at all things except the gas pump, and I will remain perturbed by our state's precious quirks.

  • Larry (unverified)

    Amen, Ms. Martens, AMEN!!

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    Seems like most people can't figure out the parking meters downtown without an experienced person showing them how. So people might indeed need some training to handle the gas pumps... who knows? And Portlanders definitely need some training on driving in snow. But I digress...

    This posting makes me recall this time after a Gorge hike that I sat at a Washington state gas station for 10 minutes wondering why everyone was ignoring me (and thinking they had a lot of different gas station attendants.) Sheepish, I finally remembered and pumped my own gas.

  • Becky (unverified)

    I've never understood the whole effort to get rid of full service gas in Oregon. I love it! I don't have to be "responsible" and save a few cents a gallon by getting out in the cold, windy, wet, or hot weather to pump my own gas and risk getting it on my hands. I don't even care why we have full-serve gas laws in this state. I'm glad for the luxury.

    As for your snobby view of pumping gas for a living, I did it one summer while in college and it was the most fun job I ever had. It was a sociable, active job - running all over the place, washing windows, waiting on people, and talking to everyone that came in. I loved it! And I've never used or been tempted to use meth.

    Plan your day a little better knowing you're going to have to spend an extra - gasp! - ten minutes at the gas station every 15-20 gallons. It can't be THAT bad.

  • Joel (unverified)

    Becky - Ever tried to get gas at 3 AM? I'm sure there are a few 24 hour gas stations around Portland, but I don't know where they are. If you happen to be in the 'Couv and have a credit card, they're all open 24 hours.

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    "mini-serve" actually doesn't cost more! To which I reply, with sneer and humbug and the airs of one who isn't frightened of other states, so what.

    The "So What" of course is that the pseudo libertarians that constantly harp on the "free market" aspects of this debate are just plain wrong.

    They know that gas is cheaper when self served despite all evidence to the contrary. In this failure of reason, their blind belief in some theoretical and nonexistent free market in the petroleum industry is shown to be nothing more than religious based expectations.

    It all reminds me of the big lie of the moment where the Portland Business Alliance will spend millions fighting against publicly funded elections, using the argument that by funding the alleged "fat cats" in election to public office, we're depriving the rightful "fat cats" of their ability to use vast amounts of money to influence the election outcomes...........OK...OK.....maybe they won't use that argument.


    Oh yeah, as a motorcycle rider I always want to pump my own gas and as a car driver I never want to pump my own gas.

  • Behind the Scenes (unverified)

    As a bicyclist, all the gas I pump is my own.

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    Now that the "lower prices" argument is blown out of the water (Portland has the cheapest gasoline in the nation) all that's left is the "waaaah! but i want to pump my own gas!" argument.

    Remember, Oregon didn't ban self-serve. We just never legalized full-serve.

    On the jobs argument, the last time this was up in the legislature, the Oregon AFL-CIO argued that self-serve would lead to a loss of 7600 jobs.

    Since we've already proven that we're capable of low prices, the petro dealers' argument - "give us self-serve, and we'll cut prices at the pump" - is proven bogus.

    That proves what self-serve opponents have been saying all along: if we give 'em self-serve, it'll just be windpall profits for the petro dealers.

    And where's the sense in that? Eliminating 7600 jobs and getting worse customer service - just to put money in the pockets of the gasoline station owners?

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)

    The common argument against selfserve usually comes from the progressive/labor interests that worry about all those unemployed gas station attendants. I'm glad to hear that debate may be turning. Now we just need to work on the attitudes of the people who believe they are entitled to have their gas pumped for them.

    I have to admit that (when I'm not in a hurry) I appreciate not having to get out of my car to pump my gas. However, if given the choice between saving a buck on selfserve vs full serve, I'd probably take selfserve 90% of the time. Regardless, I'd rather live in a society where people are trusted to take responsibility for accomplishing presumably safe menial tasks on their own.

    For me, pumping my own gas is akin to taking my garbage to the curb. Each occurs about once a week and involves a small amount of physical activity while exposed to the elements.

    If Oregon law prohibited me from taking my garbage to the curb (after all I could slip or hurt my back on the way), I'm sure that after a few years I might grow accustomed to the sanitation workers removing these items from my back porch while I stayed warm inside my house with a cup of coffee. I might even resent the idea of changing the law, if I didn't allow myself to think of the bigger picture.

    Sorry Becky. You can always pay a little extra for the convenience of having someone else pump your gas, but it isn't fair to impose your preferences on the rest of us.

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    Wow. I agree with PanchoPDX and Randy Miller. Never thought I'd see the day.

    For Kari and Pat, yes, waaah, I wanna pump my own gas. I don't care in the slightest about the cost argument - costs more, costs less, profits for petro (what else is new) - don't care! I think it's ridiculous for the state to forbid me from performing a simple and necessary chore.

    As for the jobs argument, ok, let's see the numbers. Are these union jobs? Are they living wage jobs? Do they offer benefits? Would all gas station jobs disappear with self-serve or would stations still need a few people on site, for whatever reason? How do the other 48 states, most of whom have lower unemployment rates than Oregon, cope with the influx of would-be pump jockeys?

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    Pancho wrote, "if given the choice between saving a buck on selfserve vs full serve"

    To recap: Self-serve isn't cheaper.

    It can't possibly be. Portland has the cheapest gas in the land this month.

    You can always pay a little extra for the convenience of having someone else pump your gas, but it isn't fair to impose your preferences on the rest of us.

    Have you been to California or Washington lately? There's very rarely a full-serve/pay-extra option. Eliminating self-serve is imposing your preferences on the rest of us.

    As for the "in-a-hurry" factor. Really? Time it. Get a stopwatch and see how long it takes for the attendant to show up. 30 seconds? 90 seconds? An excruciating-and-soul-sucking three minutes?

    C'mon. Use the moment to sit back, relax, listen to the radio, ponder life's persistent questions... Are we really in that much of a hurry?

  • Larry (unverified)

    Kari -

    Not sure if self-serve would be cheaper in Portland or not, but you CANNOT be serious about using this months gas price as an indicator. Gas in Portland is historically higher than the national average, and a short-term deviance from that does not make for a useful statistic. C'mon already, talk about picking and choosing your stats. Pull up a 5-year average (at a minimum) and then we can see if it's useful information or not...

  • LT (unverified)

    Kari is right Remember, Oregon didn't ban self-serve. We just never legalized full-serve.

    The claims that all self serve is effortless and there are never any problems has been proven wrong over and over. Randy Miller and his friends always claimed no one would ever have a problem with a malfunctioning pump, no one would ever spill gas on their clothes, etc. If someone really enjoys getting out of their car when they get gas, they can go to an Arco station. It just so happens there are a few stations here in Salem-Keizer where they pump your gas, wash your windshield (will check oil and tires if asked) where the gas isn't that much more expensive--one such station had regular for 201.9 yesterday.

    And it is not just about living wage union jobs. Have you noticed the underemployment rate ?(people working part time/ temporary but being glad they have any paycheck coming in at all)

    As far as this being a partisan issue, it has been my experience that it is about other issues. Not everyone is as able bodied as Anne, but that's OK because some young people want to pump their own gas so everyone should? Awhile back, a group of paralyzed veterans won a lawsuit against one or more gas station companies requiring that they have their gas pumped for them. When we were in California over Christmas, I noted the sign saying that would be done as long as there were 2 people on duty. This was always a sticking point on self-serve legislation--those who said they would support it with language that there would always be 2 people on duty--one to run the cash register and another available to help customers. This was resisted by those who wanted a simple "self-serve gas shall be legal" bill with no restrictions written in.

    Are parents supposed to have 2 adults in the car (one to pump gas, one to watch the kids)when they get gas, or are parents supposed to pump gas and then unbuckle the kids and take them in to pay?

    One year a self-serve bill was debated in a committee which was predominantly women state reps. (of both parties). The members of the committee informed the advocates of self-serve of their own experiences while driving in other states and asked them to explain why such problems as they'd had with self-serve would not happen in Oregon. The bill did not pass out of committee.

    Someone should research the origins of paid petition gatherers--it may be related to this issue. There was a ballot measure once where gas stations had petitions on their counter for people to sign--for self serve gas. It got on the ballot, and was defeated (talk about "the voters have spoken"!). Shortly thereafter, as I recall, 2 books came out: REAL MEN DON'T EAT QUICHE


  • Marc Zolton (unverified)

    Anne: First my credentials, I have lived in both Oregon and New Jersey for years and I have pumped gas for a living (in Jersey. I am afraid you have forgotten to mention the one major benefit of NOT pumping your own gas - you do not have to breathe in highly toxic fumes as you stand there at the addition, amateur pumpers like yourself tend to spill more gas, which is also bad for the environment. So, not pumping is good for you. Now, we just have to quit smoking.

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    Just answering your question Anne.........To recap, You said "so what?" and I replied.


    The norm in the other 48 states.......or at least the twenty or thiry of them in which I've pumped my own gas, is an array of obstacles to acquiring fuel in a timely manner.

    The easiest ones allow you to swipe a credit card at the pump, fill your vehicle, and leave (providing, of course that you have a credit card, and that the electronics are funtioning correctly).

    Variations include "prepay" in which you go in to the slurpy counter and try to guess how much money your car's tank will require for a fill.

    A common variation on this one is the pump that requires a trip to the slurpy counter for a turn on.

    Then there are the ones where even a credit card payment requires two trips to the slurpy counter. One to leave your card and one to retrieve it.


    I've encountered all of these scenarios and more. Give me the attendant any day. When I'm on the bike, he can hand me the nozzle.

  • Brandon (unverified)

    For what it's worth, I went on a road trip through Nevada and California in September. I paid, on average, 10 cents more per gallon than in Oregon and I had to pump the sludge myself. I also paid more at a self-service station in Olympia a few weeks ago than I typically do at my friendly, neighborhood Chevron in SW Portland.

  • JTT (unverified)

    Um, I just have to ask: has anyone (including the O) taken the gas taxes into account? If I'm not mistaken, California and Washington both have gas taxes higher than Oregon's. So, if someone wants to have a rational discussion about the price of gas in this state...why don't we include (or rather, exclude) those numbers (sorry I don't have them).

    And while everyone from the Willamette Valley seems to be cheering about lower prices, I'm wondering why you seem to have conveniently forgotten about the oil companies policy of "zone pricing" (a handy way for the gas companies to jack up the price on us in Southern and Eastern Oregon 15-30 cents above what all you in the Willamette Valley pay).

  • Kitty (unverified)

    I just moved here last month from a state three-quarters of the way across the U.S. The day I arrived, after driving through the Siskiyous (an experience in itself for this former flatlander) I pulled into a service station in Medford, hopped out of my car, headed to the pump, and swiped my credit card. Just as I was grabbing the nozzle, this guy comes up to me and says, "Do you know it's illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon?"

    I looked at him for about 5 seconds, trying to figure out if this was my introduction to the Oregon sense of humor or if I was getting ready to be hauled off to jail. Then I looked around and saw other people dressed like him pumping gas while the drivers sat in their cars. So I figured "when in Rome ..." and told him, "you pump the gas, I'm going to go pee."

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    I think Oregon's gas pumping system is fine. I don't need to pay extra to keep gas off good clothes and out of my lungs.

    Anne's comments on the employment aspect of the issue are insulting to low wage workers. There are many people working for the same wage earned by a "pump jockey", and many of them work at jobs the "suck" just as much. I don't think such comments are worthy of a progressive blogsite.

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    Larry said... "Not sure if self-serve would be cheaper in Portland or not, but you CANNOT be serious about using this months gas price as an indicator."

    Of course one month's number isn't an overall indicator. But unless some self-serve advocate is prepared to argue that Portland's gas is RADICALLY cheaper (but marked up for mini-serve) then the arguments that we've heard for years (self-serve is cheaper) are all wet.

    The reality is that the price of gasoline has little to do with the price of labor.

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    Let's be clear. The Oregonian statement is groundless. I am truly disappointed in this group that there is any support for the argument that because our prices are lower than the rest of the country for one month that self serve isn't cheaper. Where is the "control case" of self serve within the same distribution area with the same tax structure to prove your point. There isn't. So this proves absolutely nothing. The Oregonian and several members of this estimed group should go back to school and study basic science and economics.

    Anne the reason we don't have self serve is a classic political case. There are a handful of angry self serve resisters who will make every politician regret bringing up the subject. The day after I filed to run for the legislature in 2000 I got a call threatening to bring out angry mobs of protestors if I took a self serve position. I was running to help schools and deal with taxes. I didn't want to mess with a distracting issue. And so it is hard to get the votes for an issue that is a no-win for the representatives.

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    Ended up in the state of Connecticut for over a decade before smartning up and returning to Oregon. Longed for a gas attendant during snowstorms, nearly hurricane conditions and the freezing cold. Besides I like most of the "quirky" people working the pumps.

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    Tom - I'm not going to pretend that being a pump jockey is a great job. I don't think such delusion is required of progressives (though it is often expected). Seems to me that it's more insulting to low-wage workers to pretend that their low-wage jobs are awesome and they should be damn grateful for those crumbs.

    And for those of you spilling gas on your nice clothes or your nice car, you're supposed to put the nozzle into the hole before you start pumping.

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    john, the reason we don't have self-serve is not a handful of angries; we voted on it. yes, it was almost 20 years ago, but we kicked that sucker's ass. we've also voted on banning 3-trailer semi's (the semi's won, dammit). this is an issue the voters have had a say on, and there is no groundswell of public demand for a change. under those circumstances, it gets left alone. and that's right. get the voters to approve the change, if you can.

    for those who've paid attention over the past few years, oregon & washington's gas prices have tended to go up & down together. the prices rose during summer, for example, and then fell a bit later -- when the attorneys general of those states threatened to take action. the hand-in-hand movement of gas prices in the two states demonstrates again how bogus the self-serve argument is. oregon voters are not stupid enough to believe self-serve will change their prices one bit. if you want them to vote for self-serve, convince them how much they will appreciate pumping their own gas in our recent weather.

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    given the state of education in oregon, the level of poverty for our children, the degraded condition of our environment, the continued illegal deaths of our servicepeople in iraq, the lack of health care for many of us, the paucity of mass transit outside the metro area, and the simple fact that we are unable to afford to take care of basic fundamentals of our society, self-serve gas is not an issue likely to have much traction with progressives. to be honest, it smacks of conservatism and (ugh) libertarianism. as far as i'm concerned, the only who wins with self-serve are the oil companies.

  • LT (unverified)

    TA is right--esp. last paragraph.

    Anne seems to forget that cracks like "And for those of you spilling gas on your nice clothes or your nice car, you're supposed to put the nozzle into the hole before you start pumping." don't win friends and influence people. Is Anne willing to be a pump inspector and travel around the state to make sure that when properly used no spout will drip on anyone?

    I was at a wedding years ago when a relative said "I have to buy gas and I am wearing my good clothes". This is someone who has done carpentry work and is thus not an uncoordinated person. But he was worried he might get gas on this good clothes. Could that be from experience where he lives in Washington state?

    Anne, is this the reputation you want--of being sarcastic to those who disagree with you?

    Can you prove that if we had self-serve in Oregon none of Pat Ryan's scenarios will happen here? Or are you so selfish you want to pump your own gas and how dare anyone interfere with your wishes?

    And as far as "Tom - I'm not going to pretend that being a pump jockey is a great job. I don't think such delusion is required of progressives (though it is often expected). "

    Are you saying that "progressives" are all supposed to think alike? Why belong to "progressives" or use any other label if thinking is as rigidly enforced as the Minnis/ Scott House majority? That none are supposed to point out the reality that many people are in the jobs they could find, not the job they wanted--regardless of political belief?

    Anne, when was the last time you had a tough time finding a job? Anyone who has been in a mass hire situation (new chain store opening up and maybe 10 interviews going on in one room) knows that economics indicate why people would submit to such a situation, not political belief.

  • Matt (unverified)

    Wow, calm down everybody...

    1. The initial post of the day on the Washington GOP's scare tactic mailing out the sham sexual predator cards received 6 posts, this 25. If you don't like it, maybe just take on that interesting conversation.

    2. Anne, what can we say, natives go bonkers over this one. I would suggest moving on, nothing you can do about it. Start with our bigger problems like our driving, lack of sunshine, awful mascots for the 2 big state schools, anything other than gas, sales taxes or insulting Salmon. (tongue partially in cheek)

    And, LT don't jump all over the woman - sheesh, she's obviously not a native. McCall failed, they're moving here, get used to it... Stop recalling the past and try to nicely teach folks about the local customs.

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    I have the companion story to Kitty's. In my mid-twenties, shortly after I bought my first car, I took a road trip through Washington State. I stopped at a gas station en route and pulled up to the pump, waiting for the attendant in my car. Needless to say, I waited for a long time before I realized no one was coming to help me get gas. I had to ask a fellow driver to come over and show me how to work the pump. It was really embarrassing -- I'd made it into my twenties and had no idea how to pump my own gas.

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    The fact that we have the lowst gas prices right now is a fluke. It wasn't that many months ago that we had one of the highest gas prices in the 48 states.

    Historically, having attendants pump your gas costs 10-15 cents more per gallon. Based on this, we could actually be paying 10-15 cents less right now per gallon. Maybe the oil companies are giving us cheap gas right now, hoping we'll forget about all the months of overcharging us. Unfortunately, with people today it'll likely work.

    You cannot compare gas prices in California to gas prices in Oregon. Gasoline in California costs more because it is a cleaner burning gas than the rest of us use. Some areas of the state also have higher gas taxes.

    Here's a story on gas prices in California.

    I come from Texas. I pumped gas for years before moving here. I could always get in and out fast, even when I had to go in-- which I often have to do in Oregon as well. Here I often sit and wait for gas for more than 3 minutes to get my gas. And if I'm at an Arco or 76, I almost always have to get out of my car and go inside-- even though I'm paying with a card. If I don't have to go inside, I still have to get out and swipe my card in one of the handful of machines sprinkled between the pumps.

    It never seems to fail that about every third trip to the gas station that the attendant "tops off" my tank, which often leads to spills down the side of my car. In many states "topping off" is illegal-- once it clicks to say it is done, that's it. I tell the attendants to not top it off, but it's not always the same guy who comes back to finish the job. And if I'm inside waiting to pay, I'm not there to tell him to not top off.

    In Texas it wasn't that hard to find a station that offered full serve. It typically cost between 10-20 cents more per gallon. If you were elderly, handicapped, etc. all you had to do is honk when you pulled up at a self serve and someone would come out to fill up your tank.

    I'd much rather be able to swipe my own card, fill up my tank, and leave. I could have it all done much faster than any attendant would be able to, unless I happened to pull up when no other cars were there (a rarity).

    It'll also help when I need to unexpectantly go out late at night and need to get gas. Or my husband's shift runs later than usual and he gets off after midnight, but needs gas for the car. In Texas I could pull up to a station and get gas, even when there were no employees, as long as I was using my card.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)


    It's not about pretending that pumping gas is a great job, it's about respecting the people who do that job. Writing "It pays just enough for you to afford the meth" conveys disrespect, suggesting that meth use is common among holders of this job.

    I've had several nasty, low-paid jobs in my life. I would not have appreciated someone suggesting I must be a drug addict to do my job and would not have appreciated someone suggesting my job was not worth preserving.

    Maybe you think it would be great to replace all store checkers with serve-selve scanners, since that's a worthless job, and you are quite capable of scanning your own purchases. Maybe you'd like to do away with those useless waiters, as you can easily yell your order back to the kitchen and pick up your tray as it emerges. Waiters probably just waste their pay on booze and lottery tickets anyway, eh?

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    John and Larry,

    THANK YOU! The story in the O was SO BAD. It is why I think a basic class in statistics ought to be required of every aspiring reporter.

    You can conclude NOTHING about the impact of self-serve vs. mini-serve by a one month comparison or by an impressionistic comparison of two states.

    You need at least a moderately well specified model of gasoline prices, including demand, supplies, and taxes.

    If you want to pump your own gas, go for it and pay for the service. But why force the rest of us?

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    I am sorry but economic studies shows that self serve will, in a competitive environment, have a 4-5 cent differential. Note I said competitive. The fact that prices in WA and OR go up and down in tandem only says that the supply costs are similar. However, the retail price is a function of the wholesale price, taxes, and retail costs. You can not reasonably debate this issue if you can not disect the separate elements of the cost and pricing.

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    I'd be happy to pump my own gas. However, I'm not allowed to.

    I don't really care about the cost thing. It's only about $1.50 difference for a full tank on my car. To me it's a time thing.

    When I have tried to pump my own gas the attendants came over and yelled at me. I've had some say they'll call the cops. And at the time I wasn't even trying to buck the system-- I'd just moved here from Texas and wasn't used to not being able to pump my gas.

  • Garlynn (unverified)

    All I have to say is, I'm really glad to pull up to a pump in Oregon and tell the jockey to "fill 'er up with regular. yeah, plastic please." Then just hand over the card, sign it when it comes back, annotate the receipt, reset the trip-o-meter, and be off. I can change CDs or radio stations while the tank fills, or just take a breather from driving. Or go use the restroom without having to worry about needing to fill the tank beforehand or when I return.

    Plus, 7600 jobs is actually a lot of jobs. A lot of them are filled by high school or college students. Others, by people who just need some kind of income and are willing to pump gas to do it. I knew a chick in high school who did it because it was :sexy: for her, as a girl, to pump gas. She knew it!! You know it's true.

    So, for anybody out there who wants to pump your own gas... move to California or Washington, or take a road trip to those or any other location right across the state line. It's fun! You can pump it yourself!

    FYI, "Put-the-gas-in-the-hole" Anne: The gas doesn't get spilled before you put it in the hole.

    It gets spilled after you pull it out.

    You'd kinda expect that, wouldn't ya? It's the little bit left in the pipe. Us guys call that "the drip." Not much to be done about it, unless ya wanna just leave it in longer and wait for it all to dribble out slowly into the hole. ;-)

    cheers, ~Garlynn

  • leyla (unverified)

    I think it's funny that a liberal is advocating job cuts... Granted, gas station workers don't have the best job in the world, but at least thier wages go up every January 1st, thanks to the minimum wage hike.

  • km (unverified)

    Since Oregon has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, I'd hate to see those 7600 jobs go just because a bunch of non-natives complain because they don't have the ability to save a few pennies and stand out in the rain and muck while they pump their own gas.

    And really, do you think prices will go down if all of the station attendees are canned? Um, no, the already profitable oil companies will maintain the current prices and pocket the extra, thank you.

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    I must say that in the 7 years that I pumped gas into my car and my parents' vehicles, I never once got gas on me.

    And believe me, I pumped a lot of gas. My car had a 10 gallon tank and I worked for a community newspaper that covered a good amount of area. It was nothing for me to fill my tank a few times each week.

  • km (unverified)

    According to website, Oregon, S Dakota & Ohio have a gas tax of 24%. Thirteen states have higher rates including N Carolina (24.2), Utah (24.5) and Maine (24.6). The highest is Wisconsin at 31.1%.

    More than half the states in the nation have lower gas taxes than Oregon, including Texas (20%).

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)

    Only a moron* would conclude that paying people extra to do something for you when you could do it freely for yourself somehow saves you money.

    If a business pays employees to do things for you that you could do for yourself, they pass the cost along.

    That's one of the reasons why you have to box your own groceries at WinCo, they save the customer money that way.

    Delivering gas is no different. Gas prices in each state are influenced by a host of other factors - fuel taxes, regulatory requirements, distribution networks, supply/demand, property prices, business taxes, property taxes, property values, port locations/fees, etc.

    But maybe the best way to solve the debate is by a 6 month experiment. Pressure the legislature to allow Oregon stations with mini serve to also offer self serveset and set their prices independently.

    If selfserve doesn't turn out to be cheaper on average, I promise to never post anything on Blue Oregon ever again.

    *Sorry Kari, but if the dunce cap fits...

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    For the record, some of you take yourselves (and me) far too seriously. You know who you are.

    This is not an issue upon which empires depend. This is an amusing conversation. I get that I lose this argument in Oregon - it doesn't make me like letting someone else pump my gas, and getting huffy about it surely ain't gonna change the world, for you or me or low-wage workers or people with gas left in their pipes.

    But I like to rant - it's fun and occassionally funny. You (evidently) like to read and react, and we all come away a little more entertained, if not completely educated, for the day.

    An earnest, well-meaning, respectful, and entirely politically correct article would, I'm sure, not be nearly as interesting nor generate as many comments. But it's the interesting and the provocative that makes a blog worth reading, so please understand that not everything is literal and try to enjoy (or at least recognize the experience of) your buttons being pushed.

  • Bob (unverified)

    I moved to Oregon two years ago and I’m still baffled that I the state prohibits me from pumping my own gas. Some seem to think self-service wouldn’t lower prices, well, I with Anne: so what! This is a liberty issue.

    Two arguments advanced that especially confuse me are the state should take away my right to pump my own gas to provides jobs and that oil companies will profit from self-service. Of course, Oregon’s law provides gas attendant jobs, but imagine if the state acted this way in other markets. When I was in college I bagged groceries for extra money. Now I shop at WinCo, where shoppers bag their own groceries. Should Oregon mandate that WinCo hire baggers? It would create jobs and “spare” me the burden of bagging them myself. No, it makes more sense to let groceries stores choose for themselves whether or not they want beggers and let me choose what grocery store I want to shop at.

    Although I didn’t see anyone provide evidence that oil company profits will go up if Oregon allows self-service, but assuming this is true why would should the state limit my freedom to suppress oil company profits? I think my freedom is more valuable than whatever profits oil companies might get from Oregon self-service ban.

  • Jamie (unverified)

    Anne, What you consider to be "the interesting and the provocative," others like me see as sarcastic, dismissive and disrespectful. You're now trying to package it as nothing more than some harmless good humor. Sorry, that doesn't fly too well.

  • (Show?)

    The minimum wage jobs (not going to argue livable wages here) that are provided cost gas station owners next to nothing. The best indicator would be looking at gas price correlations with min wage increases. Now I'm not going to pull statistics and show you some beautifully colored line graph, but gas prices have been going up nation-wide at a rate higher than inflation for a very long time(seems like since I've been driving, unfortunately. Not fair.). But I do not remember noticing gas prices jump dramatically each time Oregon's minimum wage went up. We have one of the highest in the country (second only to Washington and the indexed rate in San Francisco) and our gas prices are comparable to other states (sometimes, yes, were higher, but there are a lot of factors that go into that other than the cost of the people who pump it).

    The extra two or three minimum wage jobs necessitated by not having self-serve gas don't make that much of a difference (what? maybe eight SUV tanks of gas a day? And you don't see many Oregonians giving those up). Nevermind the fact that so many gas stations also have other services that require attendants - car washes, mini marts, etc.) - most of these folks don't JUST pump gas. So these gas stations maybe employ one extra person per shift. Which doesn't really amount to much cost-wise. Though as long as they're there I do wish that they still washed windows more often. Anyway...

    Yes, I get irritated when I'm sitting at the damned gas station at midnight (or worse yet on my way to work in the morning because I forgot to go at midnight the night before) and the moron inside cannot see me sitting there even though he's sitting right there or he's too busy doing... whatever else to notice. And yes when I ask him (or her) not to top it off and they ignore me or somehow don't understand that request, I get annoyed. However, I remember feeling incredibly sorry for them a few weeks ago when it was so flippin' cold out and they were out there in the elements pumping my gas - and at the same time I was damned thankful I was in my car with the heater running. And before anyone says anything about forcing these lower wage earners to stand out in the cold (or heat) I used to work outside for minimum wage myself (OK, .25 over minimum wage - $5 when it was $4.75) - I just wasn't pumping gas - I was taking people's groceries to the car when I was in college. You think you don't pay for that luxury? And most of the time people accept that service because they're simply too lazy to take the cart back themselves. But I digress...

    Sometimes I would like to pump my own gas. And when I'm on the road I actually enjoy the freedom of pumping my own gas. But when I'm home during day-to-day life, I enjoy the luxury of having it pumped. And when I think of legalizing self-serve gas I picture my mother (God rest her soul) with her stupid fake nails out in the elements trying to get the gas cap off on her beloved Berlinetta and it is honestly one of the funniest visions I could possibly imagine.

    Oh and anyone who has ever spilled gas on a coat that cannot be washed or dry cleaned knows how long it takes to get the smell of gas out of something... months of airing out. That's the only choice.

    So, while I wouldn't mind pumping my own gas - and yes, I'm a woman - I don't see any reason to put people out of work to save what may amount to 50 cents to a dollar PER TANK. It's just not a good enough reason. Though it may be "silly" that we don't have self-serve, in a society where we are willing to pay a one to two bucks for a PINT of water, $3-4 for a cup of coffee, or $8 for a soda and popcorn at the movies (which costs about $1.75 at home), I really don't see the problem with paying less than a buck per tank for someone to pump my gas.

  • LT (unverified)

    Jamie is right.

    And Bob, about this: I think my freedom is more valuable than whatever profits oil companies might get from Oregon self-service ban

    If you think you can convince those of us who prefer the current system based on their own life experience (Pat R., Tom C, Paulie, Leyla, KM and others who agree but have not posted comments here) that your right to pump gas means we all should too, then I think you should try another ballot measure. Or talk to Randy Miller and ask how popular it was when he spent his entire legislative career trying to pass self serve gas.

    Some of us see Oregon as a place where we are free to stay in the car while the gas is being pumped. You may not like it but claiming your freedom has been violated isn't going to change our minds. The oil companies are behind the self-serve crusade, and many ordinary people voted down the previous ballot measure for self-serve. Being sarcastic will not encourage those who like the current system to get out of the car in the rain and wind and pump their own gas just because you say so.

  • Bob (unverified)

    LT: No one is saying you should be forced to pump your own gas. Allowing self-service wouldn't prevent gas stations from having a full-service option. If you want full-service you sould get it and I want self-service I should get it. That's good for both of us.

  • (Show?)

    cc said:

    Though it may be "silly" that we don't have self-serve, in a society where we are willing to pay a one to two bucks for a PINT of water, $3-4 for a cup of coffee, or $8 for a soda and popcorn at the movies (which costs about $1.75 at home), I really don't see the problem with paying less than a buck per tank for someone to pump my gas.

    For starters, for many of us it isn't about the money. I'm fine with them charging the same amount for gas as long as I have the option of pumping my own gas. To me it's about time and not having gas run down the side of my car.

    Many times I'm getting gas when I'm in a hurry. Being able to get out of there in half the time can really make the difference-- especially when I'm trying to get my husband to work on time or make it to a meeting/appointment.

    I often have a tight schedule that doesn't allow for much deviation. I put all my errands and trips all on a few days so there are less days I have to take my husband to work and pick him up-- he gets off after 11 p.m. at night (most times after midnight). I get tired of being pulled over all the time just because I'm in an '87 Honda Accord at night.

    And I don't do any of the above-- I almost never buy bottled water. The few times I have it's either been ridiculously cheap for a case (and I then reused the bottles for months until they were broken, caps lost, etc.) or it was free with a certain number of cases of soda purchased. When I want water, there's a perfectly good tap in the kitchen.

    I don't buy that stuff at the movies. When I do go, I'm a bad girl-- I sneak in my own drink and a box of candy that cost me about $1-- as compared to their $4.75. I also go eat beforehand, which means I'm not that hungry. I have the Regal club card, so every few movies I get a free bag of popcorn. Besides movie tickets, they don't get anything from me.

    And forget coffee, as I'm not a coffee drinker. I can't even make the stuff. When I do occasionally want one (an early meeting when I was up late working the night before), I get a large for under $2 at Coffee People. Since I only buy maybe 4 or 5 a year, it's a good deal for me.

    But like I said, it's not about the money. Just give me the option of pumping my own gas. When I'm sick, hurting too bad, etc., then they can pump my gas.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    Some of you may know that stop-lights were hand operated in the former East Germany. That's how Communism achieved full employment: lots and lots of make work.

    I see no difference with "quick-serve" stations: low-cal Socialism. What is the State's interest, exactly? Keep Oregon Weird?

    The high percentage of gas station employees that are smoking on the job really bugs me. They either leave the register unattended to run outside for a smoke, or (if they're pumping gas), they'll begrudgingly tamp it out to come over and pump my gas. You would think all those No Smoking signs would have more influence.

    How about a law that BANS SMOKING on the entire property occupied by the gas station (employees, pedestrians, and customers). At least you can argue in favor of the safety benefits.

  • askquestions1st (unverified)

    Let see if I have the sense of several "progressives" who frequent this site and a few less well recognized: Basically some of you are happy to let someone else pump gas for you because it is a threat to your health, but apparently you think it is just fine to let someone else ruin his or her health pumping the gas and breathing the fumes for everybody who is too privileged to have to work in a gas station. And for minimum wage, just so long as the minimum wage goes up a few pennies every year? And I detect a disturbing hypocrisy from many of you in comments about the stench of gasoline and your clothes - almost as if you are both too good to pump your own gas and kind of agree with the health argument, but know it would be just a little unseemly to come right out and say that.

    Let me be blunt: I fail to see how there is any credible progressive argument against pumping your own gas in the rationalizations fairly dripping with condescension about how this about preserving minimum wage jobs --- particularly if those of you making this argument don't address what you believe to be the apparent dangers to the health of those minimum wage workers that you profess to care so much about.

    And as far as I'm concerned the issue about cost also is a red herring for small minds to fight over.

    I've pumped my own gas in more states than I care to count before and since I've lived in Oregon, in jeans and business suits, in hot sunny weather and snowy cold weather. I've even pumped it for some folks who seemed to be having a problem in a self-serve situation. It never once occurred to me that someone else should be doing it. I always hoped and assumed the rest of the world had something better to do with their time than pump gas for me. In Oregon, every time I get gas I just find myself wondering why has this state, including the progressive community, failed so miserably that folks don't feel they have better things to do with their time than pump gas for me? Sadly Anne, you have a least done me a service with this thread in throwing a new light on why.

  • marco (unverified)

    "'re supposed to put the nozzle into the hole before you start pumping."

    I haven't read a word written after this sentence.

    I mean, my eyes moved across the millions of letters, but I wasn't paying them any attention.

  • LT (unverified)

    Dear Ask,

    You proved why some oppose self serve (and if it were allowed anywhere, how long before it would be the only option in some places?).

    I've even pumped it for some folks who seemed to be having a problem in a self-serve situation.

    People who are afraid they might have a problem (had a problem with self-serve in WA or Calif., don't have a lot of hand strength, don't want to get out of the car in the rain and wind, have had the sort of experiences Pat Ryan described, are concerned about spilling gas on themselves, have children in the car and don't want to leave them unattended, whatever) are supposed to support self serve or never call themselves "progressive"?

    That is why I don't like labels. Someone sent me the most recent Jason Atkinson email. Here are a couple quotes:

    "Intoning a populist theme, Atkinson says his campaign is based on two words: hope and respect. In fact, the senator champions the Progressive Movement of 100 years ago when special interests in the United States were rebuffed and the "voice of the people" was strengthened. "

    "Atkinson says he discounts the idea that leaders from both major parties are bound to a "business as usual" approach to governing, saying he favors "a conservative approach which is actually a populist approach … to give the people their government back."

    When I think populist and progressive, I think of the Grange movement, Teddy Roosevelt, Robt. LaFollette, maybe McNary and some others of that era. I don't think of the bright young son of a religious broadcaster.

    Now if someone wants to pump their own gas because every time they have done so in the past the pumps worked perfectly and they didn't have to stand in line at a slurpy counter or fuss with having to leave their credit card or cash with the cashier before starting the pump, so of course that sort of thing never happened to anyone else, be honest and say so.

    So far the arguments in favor of self-serve seem to be "I want to do this, therefore you should want to do it to".

    Sounds a lot like HOW DARE ANYONE QUESTION MY PROPOSAL?? Seems to me that is the Mannix/ Bush attitude of total wisdom which should never be questioned.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    On the occasions I have felt I needed to, seeking peace or meditation grounding, every attendant has relented to have me hold the nozzle in the fill pipe and with my free hand firm-grip the hose, taut black, now pulsing the blood of soldiers' dead hearts. When you take a feel of it.

  • (Show?)

    LT said:

    So far the arguments in favor of self-serve seem to be "I want to do this, therefore you should want to do it to".

    Actually, that's not true. And it isn't what I have said.

    I've said that if I want to be able to pump my own gas, I should. However, the gas stations can still stay full/mini-service and everyone else can have their gas pumped all they'd like. I'll even pay the same price as everyone else. I just want to be able to pull up, swipe my card, pump my gas, and be out of there.

    Many times I've sat at the gas station near my house for more than 3 minutes-- before they even came over to ask me what I wanted. By the time the gas was done, the cap was put back on, and I got my receipt it had been over 10 minutes. I could've had it done and been out of there in 2 minutes.

    Just remove the restriction from people being able to pump their own gas. I'm sure plenty of people will still have the attendants pump their gas.

  • LT (unverified)

    However, the gas stations can still stay full/mini-service and everyone else can have their gas pumped all they'd like. I'll even pay the same price as everyone else. I just want to be able to pull up, swipe my card, pump my gas, and be out of there.

    Jenni--do you really believe that will happen? The gas stations we saw in California were not all like that. And what about people who pay cash for gas?

    This is a problem in public discussions these days--someone has an idea based on their personal experience, therefore that is how it will happen for everyone else.

    Jenni, I suggest you find former St. Rep. Randy Miller's contact information (shouldn't be hard to do) and ask him if that is the system he envisioned--those who want to pump their own gas will be able to, but all gas stations will have at least one attendant at the cash register and one more attendant to help people who don't want to pump their own gas.

    As I recall, the bills usually did not mandate that, did not mandate even a place to wash gas off hands, did not deal with the question of what to do with a malfunctioning gas pump (or do you have faith that machinery never breaks?)did not deal with the situation in some gas stations in other states where they make you go in, give them your credit card or cash to hold while you pump (you are supposed to trust them?) go out, start the pump, pump the gas, go back in and get credit card or change or whatever.

    Yes, there are machines where a credit card can be swiped. But would they be at every gas station? Seems to me you have a lot of faith "I just want to be able to pull up, swipe my card, pump my gas, and be out of there."

    Most of the self-serve bills were very vague--something like "The State Fire Marshall shall issue a rule allowing self serve gas" and whenever people asked the sponsors why there were no regulations in the bill the attitude was usually some form of "go away, you bother me".

    Now just because you have faith that if self-serve were instituted "I just want to be able to pull up, swipe my card, pump my gas, and be out of there." and "I'm sure plenty of people will still have the attendants pump their gas." does not mean the rest of us don't have the right to be skeptical that before long all the experiences we and our friends have had in WA and CA (like the ones Pat Ryan described) wouldn't happen here.

    And telling us otherwise is not going to get us to support self-serve.

  • B (unverified)

    I just think about my parents who are completely baffled everytime they go to California. As soon as it went self serve you'd be waiting in line for 10 minutes behind an elderly 5th generation Oregonian that was staring blindly at the pump. In the first few weeks a few of these relics might actually go up in flames.

    Old people actually vote -- so I don't see this changing very quickly unless we increase the immigration rate by a factor of two.

    By then maybe we can have a discussion on mandating those super fast automated checkouts at Home Depot and Albertsons.

  • (Show?)

    No one is saying you should be forced to pump your own gas. Allowing self-service wouldn't prevent gas stations from having a full-service option. If you want full-service you sould get it and I want self-service I should get it. That's good for both of us.

    Yeah, right.

    Would someone please zip on up to the 'Couv and do a quick census of how many stations are pure self-serve and how many offer the full-serve option?

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)


    " pulsing the blood of soldiers' dead hearts" is patently offensive to everybody to the right of Dennis Kucinich. You are against the war, and you're angry that it continues without your consent. We get that. It's poetic, but it remains patently offensive.

    Even the 'soldiers per mile' refrain is getting a little worn.

    In fact, we all use petroleum products, no matter how eco-friendly or tread lightly you think you are. Don't own a car? Good for you. Good old Tri-Met burns a million+ gallons of fuel per year.

    Don't buy food at the grocery store? Even better. Because all of the food on your table was farmed with diesel tractors and implements or (if you grow your own), the other comforts of life spent at least the last couple of miles on the back of a diesel truck.

    Is there a direct linkage between my consumption of petroleum products and the maintenance of war in Iraq. I think not. We could quit importing oil tomorrow (at great economic hardship), but that would not induce the Bush Administration to withdraw from Iraq, or take a pass on preventing an Atomic Iraq. Give it a rest.

  • W. Bruce Anderholt II (unverified)

    "Atomic Iraq" should read "Atomic Iran".

  • Bob (unverified)

    Yeah, right.

    Would someone please zip on up to the 'Couv and do a quick census of how many stations are pure self-serve and how many offer the full-serve option?

    Two obvious responses: There are more full-service options in Vancouver than there are self-service options in Oregon. And if your right, this only shows that given the choice people prefer to it themselves. If it were otherwise more Vancouver gas stations would offer full-service. The point is pumping gas is not an area of our life that we need governement to tell us what to do. Educate me: what was the great problem Oregonians were trying to fix when they instituted the ban?

    I still don't understand on how a ban on pumping your own gas is any different than a hypothetical ban on bagging your own groceries. The same arguements apply. What's so speical about pumping gas?

    askquestion1st, well said. A ban a self-service is in no way progressive.

  • theanalyst (unverified)

    I would much rather pump my own gas. In my experience, gas stations don't staff the pumps very well, so that something that should take 5 minutes takes 15 minutes, as some poor bastard runs back and forth between 12 different pumps, trying to remember who got there first, who wants a fill, who wants five dollars, etc.

    Of course, this assumes that the attendant is actually concerned with getting cars in and out. We used to go to one station where the attendants -- invariably hanging out off to the side, smoking and listening to the radio -- moved so slowly that one would have suspected that the atmosphere around them were made of gelatin, and they had to force their way through.

    But my favorite attendant was a fellow we used to call "the man with 13 words." The 13 words consisted of the word "pump," followed by the pump number. So you pull up and get out of the car as he tears himself away from the radio and cigarette and slowly drifts your way. Then you start the conversation with "hi, could you fill it with regular please." To which he would respond "pump six," or "pump ten," or whatever, never anything else. Upon leaving you would say "thanks very much," to which he would sometimes respond with a kind of grunt, like "wuh."

    So thank you very much, I'll pump my own gas.

  • Karl (unverified)

    I don't know, maybe self serve is always quicker in Texas, but often on my trips to california it takes longer than I'm used to to get gas from the attendant behind the slurpy counter. And, Anne, you sure did push my button with your elitist slur pointed at pump jockies (it can be a really fun job at a busy station). I did it for a couple of years in my youth. I never used meth and i have to say that the people I worked with were solid honorable people. Of course, like most jobs, It payed a lot better in those days.

  • JoanneR (unverified)

    Interesting debate. If anyone really wants to pump their own gas they can do so right now. Pacific Pride has card lock stations all over the place. I don't know what they're charging for gas right now, but a few years ago my brother was paying around 10 cents a gallon more than I was in Mulino, although that could have been a local business overhead issue, the station is on SE 8th and Main in Portland.

    Don't have a business to qualify for a card lock? Register a DBA in your county, it only costs $20 or so, or just print up some business cards. I don't think Pacific Pride is too choosy about who they set up an account with. Their stations are usually empty, so you'll be able to just pull up, fill your tank and go. I think they all have pumps with card slots as I don't see any attendant of any kind at any of the stations I've been around, so it seems to be pretty much automated.

    Theanalyst - About the slow moving attendant. We have one out here at the Cheveron station in Mulino. If he moves any slower I think he'll actually be stationary, lol.

    As far as pumping my own, I can or not. Doesn't make much difference to me, although 7,600 jobs is a lot, and I refuse to use the self check out at any store as eventually those will eliminate the checker's jobs, and I figure if the store is going to start cutting positions, they can bloody well drop their prices accordingly.

  • Larry (unverified)

    C'mon folks... won't SOMEBODY PLEASE answer Bob's question? He's asked it twice now, and it's just plain rude to keep ignoring him - if you feel it's the government's job to mandate employment of gas jockeys, should they also do so for grocery baggers? After all, similar to the argument that pumping your own gas could be unhealthy or unsanitary for you, bagging your groceries could result in paper cuts and smashed eggs. And crumbled bread doesn't fit in my toaster very well, dammit.

    Should gov't also mandate that Fred Meyer MUST eliminate the self-checkout, because it reduces checker positions? Should we move the freakin' coke dispenser back behind the counter at Burger King? For that matter, maybe we should eliminate Internet shopping, because every purchase you make there is one less at a brick-and-mortar store, thereby reducing their need for employees.

    These may sound a bit silly, but c'mon, if it's good for one industry then it's good for others, right?

    So someone please answer Bob's question....

  • km (unverified)

    askquestions1st: almost as if you are both too good to pump your own gas and kind of agree with the health argument, but know it would be just a little unseemly to come right out and say that.

    Some of these comments are too long for me to bother reading but I haven't seen any people saying they were too good to pump gas (or would rather pay someone to do something dangerous although I'm guessing more than a few of us have in our lives -- chimney sweep anyone? house painter? construction?). Sorry if I've missed those particular comments as they might exist. The original poster didn't seem to generous when describing the types of people employed at the stations but since she was arguing for self-serve, I'm guessing you don't mean her.

    For me it's about 7600 jobs in a state with high unemployment. Besides, I like the guy who pumps my gas; he's nice and sometimes the only nice person I encounter in my day.

    I've pumped my own gas and diesel (my parents had a tank on their property). I wasn't very good at it and I sincerely doubt anyone would want me filling their tank as I do tend to be sloppy. When I finish, I wipe the gas off my car and then lock & leave my car where it is and head for the bathroom so that I can properly wash my hands. That takes a bit of time but I'm sure you folks who are in a hurry won't mind because after all, it was your bright idea. When I'm done washing my hands and carefully opening the bathroom door with tissue (yea, I'm a clean freak), I'll go back to my car, unlock it, get in, put my purse on the seat beside me, perhaps adjust the stereo and all the other things I do while the station attendant would normally be filling my car and then put my seatbelt on, start the car and go. By the time I finish, I've added at least 10-15 minutes onto the time it takes to fill my tank.

    Imagine if you were waiting in line behind someone like me who had NO experience pumping their own gas. Add the time above that my car is blocking your path to the time it takes to figure out the gas pump. The first time I pumped gas in Washington I tried a few times to get the thing to work and then finally went into the shop to ask someone for help. Turns out it didn't work the same way my parents' tank worked. I had to wait until he was done watching a football play and then he came out (slowly) to show me how to make the pumps work. I was there for more than a 1/2 hour. Maybe that's why a few people yelled nasty comments to me before they drove off. Now, imagine an entire state of people like that. Oooo fun. And time-efficient!

  • (Show?)

    i answered Bob's question yesterday -- the voters in Oregon decided that WE do not want self-serve. the Leg has seen no compelling reason to overturn the will of the people. that's the purpose of the initiative system: let the people decide. of all the issues brought to the Leg, self-serve gas is not one the majority of voters seem to desire. and until that changes, the Leg has no political authority to overturn our vote.

  • pdxdem (unverified)

    Pancho get it strait it is not cheaper to pump your own gas. I hate to inform you that your right wing b.s. is transparent. I agree that we should have the option to pump our own fuel out of convenience not cost savings because there is none. If anyone believes that the petro industry is going to save you money by going to self service I have some ocean front property to sell you in Arizona.

  • (Show?)


    I only have a second, as I'm about to run out to physical therapy. I'll hit a few points and then get back with you this evening.

    I paid cash for gas in Texas all the time. Typically it went something like this:

    I pumped my gas, then I went in to pay the amount shown on the pumps. This was the majority of my cash experience, as long as I was paying before about 8 p.m. or so. It was still like this when I visited last year.

    Yes, some people drive off and don't pay, but they have cameras on all the pumps and typically catch the people-- they have their pictures, pics of the car, and license plates. It gets turned into the police right away.

    At a few stations (and late at night) they wanted to hold your money to make sure you paid. I'd take $20 or $30 in, it sat on a counter behind the register under some kind of system that would show which money was for which register (trays labeled by pump #, paperwights labeled by pump #, etc.).

    I'd pump, then go back in to get my change. Many places had a little walk up window where you could do it all without having to run inside.

    I maybe did that a handful of times in all my years of pumping gas. And I'd say that at least 75% of all the gas I got was paid for with cash. While visiting last year, all my gas was paid for with cash. My parents pay for all their gas with cash-- they have no credit cards and no debit card. They never have any problem.

    What most states have done is just completely deregulated any restrictions regarding what is required of a gas station. That leaves you with very few attendants, help for the handicapped and elderly, etc.

    And when I talk about swiping my card, I realize that isn't available at every station. It wasn't in Texas. However, now that I have a card I typically only go to stations where I know my card can be swiped at/near the pump, unless there isn't another option nearby.

    I'm not advocating for a system like WA or CA. I'm advocating for a system that states something about that every station will have full/mini service (or whatever you want to call it), but that people will be allowed to pump their gas. Then have some rules in it about what to do if... type situations (things like the problems you mentioned). Maybe something about if they don't lower gas prices because they can now have self service, they have to keep their pumps fully staffed. After all, that's what everyone is paying for.

    I realize you can't just say in the rules that self service is allowed and leave it like that. I've never talked about what the bill should say. But if done correctly, the situation I mentioned can be exactly that-- those who don't want to pump their gas or cannot get theirs pumped for them. Me, I drive up to my local favorite stations, pull out my card, swipe it, pump, put away the nozzle, get my receipt, and leave. If I have cash that day instead, then I deal with that (although making rules as to how they can/cannot handle cash would be nice).

  • Larry (unverified)

    TAB -

    Okay, so I went back and took another look at the postings. Perhaps you answered the letter of his note, but not the spirit of it - One of the main arguments on this board against self-serve is the elimination of 7600 low wage jobs. So my question, and I believe Bob's question, is "Why not do it for other industries? Why should gov't mandate employee levels for this industry but not others?" Bob wasn't asking HOW we got to this point, he was asking if the logic behind no self-serve would also apply to no self-bagging.

    Maybe I'm dense, but in my mind, these questions still haven't been answered.

    And since you mentioned it, let me ask one other question... Is it your position that every initiative passed by the voters should not be overturned by legislative or administrative bodies? 'Cause if so, we have a bunch of other things to discuss... like why light rail keeps expanding.

  • Tubthumper (unverified)

    An outright ban on doing something for yourself that you are perfectly capable of doing is not "quirky," it's stubborn and retarded.

    Am I the only one who finds this sentence somewhat offensive? And this from the COMMUNICATIONS secretary of our beloved (and living with a disability) Secretary of State, who is supposed to stand for our citizens.

    Perhaps while penning a flippant screed words have less meaning, but to a person with a developmental disability, this just continues the pain.

    From the poster Governor Kulongoski unveiled at the observation of Developmental Disabilities week/month/day which hangs in every state office dedicated to serving people with disabilities:

    Some words do hurt. Using the word "retard" is not cool, funny or hip - it's just thoughless. No matter how the word is used, it is hurtful to people with disabilities. Think about your words. Don't use words that hurt.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    askquestions1st makes a valid point about the health concerns of pumping gas. Attendants should be wearing solvent-proof gloves and respirators. I would want to if I worked as a pump jockey.

    Anne, I realize you were trying to be funny, but I don't think a blogsite for progressives is a good place to argue for eliminating thousands of jobs while suggesting those workers use meth. I think you would be upset if someone else wrote that we shoud all do our own landscaping, and that all those illegal aliens were just using their pay to buy knives and underage prostitutes. Or is that your next post?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)


    The arguments FOR professional pumpers are about safety, access and cost. Preserving jobs is an argument AGAINST changing the present system. They are not the same issue from a political perspective.

  • Jamie (unverified)

    RE: I still don't understand on how a ban on pumping your own gas is any different than a hypothetical ban on bagging your own groceries. The same arguements apply. What's so speical about pumping gas?

    The most relevant matter is NOT a comparison of a ban on pumping your own gas, and a ban on bagging your own groceries.

    The most relevant matter is a comparison of eliminating a ban on pumping your own gas which would render thousands of Oregonians unemployed, and instituting a ban on bagging your own groceries which would render thousands of Oregonians unemployed.

    Both sound like bad ideas to me, and I'll bet they sound REALLY bad to those thousands of low income Oregonians who would lose their jobs.

    Just a guess, but I think that maybe none of the advocates for this policy change would stand to lose their livelilhood if it were to come to be. In other words, they're not looking out for their neighbors, or they don't care.

    Not very progressive!

  • LT (unverified)

    Tubthumper is right. Is Anne saying that anyone with mobility (or hand strength ) challenges should not drive because every driver should be perfectly capable of pumping their own gas?

    Forget all the stuff about eliminating jobs--if those like Anne say only people who would have no problem hopping out of the car in the pouring rain to pump their own gas should be driving, then SAY SO!

    And 30 or 40 years from now, the young people who are so excited about hopping out of their cars to pump gas might see this differently. Or is this about self-centered "my way fits everyone" people?

  • (Show?)

    Disclaimer, because apparently one is needed. This was written in a personal, and not professional capacity. It is sarcastic and disrespectful and will offend all those willing to be offended. If you are among those willing to be offended, your offense has been duly noted.

    It's a rant, not a policy paper. If you are among those contributing rants of your own, carry on.

  • Tubthumper (unverified)

    Of course no one was suggesting that you were speaking for SOS. By being defensive, you missed an opportunity to rant without stepping on the disabilities community to do so.

  • (Show?)

    Interesting debate! Three points:

    Pancho, when you take your trash to the curb, is it routinely in a state of extreme flammability? Does it require any mechanical or electronic knowledge (eg, as with the pump nozzle or the apparatus that dispenses gas?) Will a little static electricity generated by you walking to the curb, cause your garbage to explode?

    On pricing: It's true that a one-month snapshot does not paint an accurate picture of Oregon gas prices. What it DOES indicate, however, is that full-serve configurations are NOT a barrier to low prices. In other words, if it's somehow possible to have cheap gas AND full serve--even if only for a month--that means that full serve status is not what's driving the price. And that was Kari's point: You can't say full serve prevents cheap gas, because we currently have both.

    On concern for station attendants: I fully agree their safety should be of concern. However, there's a big difference between assuring the safety of workers within the confines of their job, and the safety of the general public's use of potentially dangerous equipment. There are lots of people that know how to use chain saws, too--but that doesn't mean I wouldn't have some trepidation as the owner of a tree farm, sending old ladies out into the woods with one of my Poulans. Caring for worker safety is the job of federal and state OSHA. And it's certainly cheaper to train and outfit employees to do that work, than idiotproof the equipment for all manner of idiots in the general public.

  • (Show?)

    Most of the people I've known who pump gas knew just as much about pumping gas as I did while living in Texas-- which required no mechanical/electronic knowledge beyond the absolute basics that everyone should know.

    In states where you can pump your own gas, you're regularly reminded on the news and such not to get in and out of your car while pumping gas-- it can cause a fire.

    You're shown by your parents, drivers ed teacher, etc. how to pump the gas-- how to set it so it'll pump until it is full, so you don't have to do anything but stand there.

    Most of these guys/gals receive no more training than I got when I was about 15 and my parents started having me pump their gas so I'd know when I started driving the next year.

    If we were to start allowing people to pump gas here in Oregon, we'd have to make sure that the news, newspaper, etc. did quite a bit of education to people in the months/weeks prior to it taking effect. Most of it would be just on things like not getting in/out of your vehicle because of static electricity problems. Or not using your cell phone while pumping gas.

  • (Show?)

    ...or turning off your engine. Or not smoking. Why educate 3.4 million people, when we can educate 7600 instead--and do so as a part of the cost of doing the business of selling gas?

    By the way, I was actually taught NOT to just stand there, because that can cause spillage. You're supposed to hold the handle in without using the locking device.

  • (Show?)

    First, this is all stuff people should know anyway. Almost everyone is going to travel into at least Washington, if not other states. You can't always easily find a full service gas station-- and often times they're quite a bit more expensive since not that many people use them. Everyone should know the basic method of pumping gas and safety items.

    Getting in/out of the vehicle is one that people in Oregon should definitely know about. How many people get out, go inside to pay for their gas (or get a soda, coffee, etc.) and then come back and get in while the gas is pumping?

    I've never had my tank spill over when the locking device was on-- not when I pumped, not during all the years when I watched my parents, or since moving to Oregon and having the attendants use the locking device. The only spill overs I've ever had was when I was learning to pump gas (parents made me hold it instead of using the lock device) or when attendants "top off" even though I've asked them not to.

    I've only had the attendants here in Oregon hold it once-- and that was because the locking device was broken on that pump. It was fixed a few days later.

  • Anne Dufay (unverified)

    my my. what you can start when you set out to be purposefully provocative...

    Re the -- they're just a bunch of white trailer trash and who cares about their jobs anyway -- thing... Yeah, that one did cross a line. And I'd add, just think, these jobs cannot be outsourced. Someday some depressed out of work software engineer will take one of these jobs and it will pay him just enough to afford his Meth...

    As for the - I don't want to wait around while the employee serves others -- thing, well I say that for me at least minor irritants take on a larger than life aggravating factor directly proportional to their reasonableness -- or lack thereof. In other words, I can wait for a busy, hardworking waiter or station attendant or retail clerk who is serving the person in front of me. With some patience. What really steams me is when I'm waiting in a long line at a self-serve gas station in California (yes, this is a true story, and yes, it happened to me sadly much more than once) because some idiot pulled up to the last pump, got out to pump his gas, and then the cars in front all pulled out and left their pumps open. Had there been SOMEONE in charge they would have, politely, directed the customer to pull up to the forward pump. Minus such a presence the customer grimly holds his place (hey, he'd have to get back in his car, turn it back on, and move forward. That would be a waste of his time and thus obliterate all benefit he gets from pumping his own...) And everyone in line behind him waits. Some of us, not so patiently. Personally, I consider myself the patient angel in this story, compared to my husband...

    In my experience misery knows fewer greater champions than waiting in just such an idiot no-reason line in Sacramento in the heat of summer with kids in the backseat, fighting. You can see the open pumps just up there. They beckon. You cannot get to them. Then the person (I use that descriptor loosely as by that time I'm making certain presumptions re the individual's DNA) holding everyone up waddles (yes, I'm bitter, but note, I presume nothing about his economic or potentially self-medicated status) into the snack shop and can't decide -- coke or pepsi...

    Ah yes, good times. Good times.

    All this, and hands that smell of gas. If only we are "man" enough...

  • (Show?)

    If it's really that important for some Oregonians to pump their own gas, they are more than welcome to drive to any gas station on Tribal land, like at Spirit Mountain Casino where they have two self-serve pumps. :-)

  • (Show?)

    For those of us who either don't live near a gas station on tribal land or close to Vancouver, those options aren't real options.

    It'd be stupid for me to drive miles out of my way each week to get gas there. It'd take more time that in does to wait in line for gas.

    Anne D--

    I've had that happen plenty of times in Texas-- and it was likely hotter than it was in California. And yes, there were kids fighting the back, plus the Suburban had no A/C.

    We started the car back up, and drove around to one of the open spots. And we'd end up pulling out of there about the same time the car that had been behind us was just starting to pump their gas.

    I've had to do the same thing plenty of times here in Oregon, even with attendants.

  • M. (unverified)

    "What really steams me is when I'm waiting in a long line at a self-serve gas station in California (yes, this is a true story, and yes, it happened to me sadly much more than once) because some idiot pulled up to the last pump, got out to pump his gas, and then the cars in front all pulled out and left their pumps open.... And everyone in line behind him waits. Some of us, not so patiently."

    THAT's what really steams you? Can I just say "get a life"?

    No ethic of gas station behavior requires him/her to interrupt his activity for your convenience. Every ethic of civility and politeness and just being a friendly human being requires you to sit patiently until he/she is done.

    What planet are you on? Planet BMW? Planet Entitlement? Planet I'm So Rich That Nobody Should Get In My Way?

    Dick Cheney is worth getting upset about. American Fascism is worth getting upset about. Waiting in line politely is what adults do.

    The thought of someone like you being pissed off because you have to wait a whole five minutes in your car almost makes me happy... except that I feel bad for taking pleasure in your misery... but not really bad.

    I'd say you really belong in another state, surrounded by people with another state of mind. I hope you find one that suits you better soon. Your unhappiness makes those around you unhappy.


    Oh, I think you're funny too, as unhappy people can sometimes be. I particularly like crack about Meth... but still, just go away for your happiness and ours.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    We Oregonians sure can get worked up about gaspumping, LOL. By the way, I am not a native and pumped plenty of gas before moving here. I have learned to love full-serve along with many of the other charms of my adopted home state.

  • Ramon (unverified)

    Rarely does such an obvious example expose the faux front of Progressive-Labor solidarity. It would be better for Progressives to let the Labor anchor go.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    The way it is, it is easy to find a station with a nozzle jockey who is gladly willing to let you pump your own. If you want to, or if you have a fancy car or a fancy paint job, or you're just finicky. Ask.

    The way it is, we have it both ways. Sometimes you can feel like a pump nut, sometimes you don't.

    But what about the way it is going to be?

    If you knew now that gas is going to be $5.00 a gallon in six months, would that change anything you do now?

    Or, forget gas altogether. Get away from it before it runs out on you. Get a bike. And change the subject to My Issue -- Proposed: Abolish daylight savings time. Never spring up to fall for it again. Don't tell the clocks to lie, use real time all the time.

  • Anne Dufay (unverified)

    Wow. Like I said, what you can start when you set out to be purposefully provocative...

    Loved the pretzel-logic of when it is OK to be impatient waiting to be served (hint -- if you are in favor of self-serve gas it's ok to be impatient -- and when it is NOT, hint -- if you are a weeney gas station attendant-lover...) Fun.

    Was crushed to learn the courageously self-identified "M" is not going to invite me to his/her birthday party...

    Now, if I add a little smiley face will you puleeeaze calm yourselves down a bit? Take ten deep breaths and repeat after me "it's just a bit of malarkey, consistent in tone and substance with the original blog".

    Or, am I presuming too much to think folks actually read the original?

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)


    Your "cross a line" admission reinstates your prog cred with me. I still support Oregon's pump policy, though.

    It'll all be academic when the gas is gone or we're filling up with hydrogen. "Just take your hands off the nozzle and back away from the pump, miss."

  • (Show?)

    I have been lurking for a short while on Blue Oregon, and this is my first post. In my humble opinion, I think everyone just needs to take a step back from the keyboard and relax a little.

    I don't know Anne, but I have a feeling she doesn't think every single man or woman that pumps gas in this state uses meth. I also suspect she doesn't have anything against people with disabilities. Why do I say this? Because she's posting at, and not, for starters.

    Accusing Anne of slighting people with disabilities is about as much of a stretch as it was for conservatives who pilloried Al Gore in 2000 for allegedly slandering people with Down's Syndrome when he had used the expression "extra-chromosome right wing" six years earlier when speaking about conservatives flocking to Oliver North's Senate campaign in Virginia. Of course, the media were all too happy to play along with that attack on Gore. Oh, and another thing: he never said he invented the internet. But I digress...

    That's my $0.02. May the fight about pumping gas continue, and may it not turn into a gas fight like the one in "Zoolander."

  • (Show?)

    Good one Steve, although I can attest to the fact that our Anne isn't nearly the the fashionista portrayed by those unfortunate victims of Self-Serve in Zoolander.

  • M. (unverified)

    Well I was going to invite you to my party but I realized there would be a line for cake and an inebriated adult serving the cake ... really not your scene. :-)

  • user (unverified)

    "professional pumpers"??

    Ha ha that is soo funny! Man, do I need to go to a school to get a degree in gssoline jockey?

    And say, everyone here loves how the "pros" top off your tank and contribute to pollution, right?

    gosh. I'd pump my own gas willingly.

  • almost idaho (unverified)

    Perhaps, is is not that some people are too good to pump their own gas, but some oregonians just think they have to be different as in enlightened. 48 other states manage, are we not that adaptable? No, oregon is not the norm, as in something special. Given that fact that it is illegal in oregon to pump your own gas but legal to commit suicide, along with the blazers, beavers and the state of its education system, oregon is not held in high regard outside its borders. Sometimes different is not better.

  • (Show?)

    Given that fact that it is illegal in oregon to pump your own gas but legal to commit suicide, along with the blazers, beavers and the state of its education system, oregon is not held in high regard outside its borders.

    We don't care what anyone outside our borders thinks, we're Muricuns by Golly, and we don't need to listen to anyone, especially anyone who disagrees with us....

    What's the deal here?

    Are you French? and hey isn't Ontario in Canada? We're at war with Canada and France aren't we?

    Danged cheese eating surrender monkeys anyhow!!!!!!!!

  • humblerodent (unverified)

    Everybody take one step back...

    Now breathe deep...

    And release...

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    I've lived in Oregon for quite awhile and lots of places where you pump your own. Pump jockeys are becoming a rarity in self-serve states, you take your chances of getting one. Yep, I can call them pump jockeys, because I've been one. For Anne and the rest of you Libertarian Yahoos, the only reason you have one darned thing is because somebody is out there working with their hands, and mostly they get poorly paid to do it. I bang nails for a living and employ several people to help me do it, by your estimation, we're about 1/2 step up from monkeys and bannanas will do for pay and the rest of the no-count trailer trash minimum wage workers aren't even that 1/2 step up. Your ability to push paper around may impress you, but fifty years after you're dead and dust my work will be lived in and enjoyed. That guy out there jerking gas will try to move up and come out with me, or something, but in the name of your libertarian nonsense you're happy to yank the rug out from under him.

  • Ross Williams (unverified)

    As a native Minnesotan who pumped my own gas when it was 20 below with a 30 mph wind, I am always amused when someone suggests western Oregon weather as a reason for not having to pump your own gas. That said, when Minnesota changed to allow pump your own the promise was that there would be full-serve at every station. That did not last long and finding a full-serve pump is now a rarity even if you still want one when its 20 below.

    There are dangers to having people pump their own. Anything from someone smoking a cigarette, to a cell phone to static electricity can set off a pump fire. An attendent will help prevent those, so the safety argument is not entirely bogus. But lets face it, the reason for keeping full service is convenience. Its a lot easier to hand the attendent your credit card than to get out and pump your own. And if you are on a trip and need a bathroom break you don't have to wait until the gas is pumped.

    Frankly, if waiting for gas station attendents is a major problem in your life you need to drive less. Take the bus, ride a bike or walk. You will find that the once a month trip to the gas station isn't very much of a problem. And just appreciate the days you don't want to get out of the car to fill up.

  • john prentice (unverified)

    This is hilarious! Anne is a nonsensical Libertarian? Have you read any of her previous posts?

    Like folks have posted, there are lots of jobs that have been eliminated by advancing technology and convenience in the last 20 years,and lots that have been created.

    When gas jockeys became some sort of sacred cow I don't know. Let's just institute a five cent gas tax and use it to pay their friggin' salaries. Because that's all this is.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    Nonsense is nonsense. I don't have to worry about machines taking my work or getting offshored, illegals ARE eating the bottom out of already poor wages, but it'll still be there. John, I have no idea what you do for work, but I rather doubt you'd be quite so cavalier if it were your job...That's libertarian nonsense, I've now got mine, screw you.

    There's a serious disconnect with labor amongst the "educated," they become disposable. Folks seem to have the idea that wealth grows out of paper, sorry to be a drag, but that paper is based on real concrete items, without them it isn't as useful as toilet paper (or as comfortable). We have created an educational and societal attitude that labor is a second class endeavor, I am strongly reminded of the late 1800s. Too bad that it may be a Darwinian solution that corrects that ignorance.

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