Monday, September 12, 2011

912 The Gas Pump

912 The Gas Pump

The latest in self service gas pumps have started to appear and they are daunting.

It was hard enough to get used to the original electronic pumps.  You had to know which way to insert your credit or debit card, how quickly to withdraw it, whether to choose your grade of gasoline before or after you jumped through the payment hoops.  And afterward you had to make sure you carefully closed your fuel tank with the right number of “clicks” as you twisted the cap back on, and then make sure that you had the tank door closed afterward.

You’d think they’d simplify all this when they installed the shiny new pumps.  But, no.

The first thing you notice is that the little computer-like screens that tell you how many gallons you’ve pumped and how much you owe now do many more things.  No longer is it “do you want a receipt?” Now, it is a full fledged television with full fledged commercials.  Just commercials, no programs.

Contemplate your termites or your lack of storm windows while you pump your unleaded regular.   Or maybe sign up for a degree program at “Western Governors University.”  Or “buy our potato chips.”

Annoying.  Even more annoying than the so-called music they used to play through tinny (but weather resistant) little loudspeakers, probably stolen from a junk yard specializing in cast-off 1950s drive-in movie equipment.

One of these pump monsters asks you -- before you are allowed to put gas in the tank,  but after you’ve established credit  “Do you want a car wash.”  They have an automated car wash.  It’s open 24 hours, should you have the urge to clean up a three o’clock on a Wednesday morning.  You have to press “yes” or “no.”  You can’t find the “yes” or “no” buttons without a magnifying glass even if you know where on the machine to look for them.  And you can’t pump your gas until you’ve passed both the credit test and the car wash test.

So, they charge you something within walking distance of four bucks a gallon and you have to take a test or two before they’ll deign to take your money.  And since your time is worthless, they’ll fill it with animated televised ads?

Ain’t technology grand?

Shrapnel (Jewelry Edition):

--Why is it that with the price of gold approaching $2000 an ounce, most gold jewelry has started to look cheesy?  Maybe it’s because when you look at it you say “this can’t be real.”  Or maybe it always looked that way and we just don’t remember.

--You have to hand it to the jewelry merchants.  They’ve substituted an awful lot of stainless steel for gold and silver these days.  It costs little, looks good, lasts forever, doesn’t turn your skin green and if you lose it, so what?

--That said, stainless isn’t yet the “new gold.”  That’ll only happen when and if Tiffany and Cartier start promoting it as such.  Tiffany quietly lists a few steel items but Cartier has yet to follow the other fashion leaders, Tiffany, Wal-Mart, Costco and Home Shopping Network.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2011

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