Thanks for waking me up, BP
So-Called Service Station
If you look up your local convienience store/food fueling location in the Yellow Pages it’s still listed under the ‘Service Stations’ section – yet it is rare to find one that’ll pump your gas, and if you do, I’d guarantee that it’ll be at an much-inflated price per gallon.
There was a time not all that long ago when they’d wipe your window, check your oil and inflate your tires for a dollar gas purchase. Heck — if you filled up — or if you bought so many gallons you might even get a free glass or something.
When the combination of Fast Food with ‘Service Stations’ first started making a presence not all that long ago, I was thinking ‘ugh — who’d really want to get regular meal in a damn gas station?’
It may be those memories of large jars of pickled eggs and pickled weiners that served as about the only ‘meat group’ items that one could get in service stations – and even that was rare. Real Service Station Fare was mainly limited to a coke machine and maybe a small vending machine with peanuts and crackers it it. You’d have been hard-pressed to spend a dollar on food at a Service Station in any case.
Yesterday morning I went to the local BP station and filled up with gas. I’m a cash-payer mostly and this is a nice big roomy station so I have to walk a good ways to get to the counter to pay where I often find myself standing in line behind a half-dozen people more often than I think should be necessary. I liked it much better when I didn’t have to get out of the car and when young high school dropouts could always get a job pumping gas and learning some basic mechanics from the station owner.
Anyway, I’m walking in and feeling a bit hungry and the little deli looks like it might have some decent food so I decide to grab a biscuit to go. I look up at the menu and I don’t see biscuits. I see three or four large pictures of croissants and muffins and maybe something else on the large board — but no biscuits — nor was there anything about combos or prices or anything. This was just large fancy pictures of food.
There are two people behind the counter — one man and one woman and they are looking at me like they are ready to serve me. The woman has plastic gloves on and tongs in hand and there’s some steaming biscuit size scrambled egg things down in that one bin that has a clear top on it. I reckon that there must be meat and or biscuits in some of the other ones that I can’t see in. These folks aren’t really doing anything else so I assume that there role here would to be to serve me.
I ask ‘Do you have biscuits?’.
The lady says ‘Yes — order there,’ directing me to input my order on a fancy little lcd display screen. I’m wondering ‘Can’t you just take my damn order?’… but I go along just to keep it moving.
I find where I select what I want, and sure enough — there’s the biscuit! I poke the biscuit picture and it asks me what I want on it. I opt for sausage. OK, so far, so good. Then the cheese option comes up. I’m thinkin’…’yeah – well, hell, I’ve gone this far, why not?’. Then it gives me choices of cheese. I’m thinkin’ – ‘Be done already’. I pick cheddar and then finish. This little receipt-type thing prints out.
This is my first time at this, so being ignorant of the ‘system’, I try and hand this printout to the woman behind the counter. She says ‘No, take it to the counter and pay, then I make your biscuit’. I look at the receipt. It says what I ordered but there’s no price on it.
I was getting abit perturbed by then so I ask the woman ‘How much is this biscuit anyway?’
She says ‘I don’t know.’
I say ‘What?’
She says ‘They’ll tell you when you pay.’
The man who’s behind the counter finally pipes in and tells me ‘It’s $2.59’. But he has this sorta look on his face like ‘We aren’t supposed to discuss that’.
I’m thinking. ‘You know, this is where they have taken us. They started off by selling us on the idea that if we pumped it ourselves we’d save money and that idea made some sense. Now we are willing to come in here and do everything ourselves, stand in two different lines to get food from a damn service station and we are willing to pay a price for it that we’d could pay at a nice restaurant where we’d get cloth napkins, someone nice to bring us our food and keep our coffee cups full, and we’d get to sit down through it all the way through.’
Then I just said ‘Hell no’ and I walked out.
It wasn’t a total loss. I’ll forever be a little more cognizant about the things I want to support and encourage, and I’ll be a bit more supportive of things that are worthy of preserving from now on.
I reckon that some cultural stupidity does serve some purpose.