Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pay at the Pump

Pay at the Pump: When pay at the pump first started I was ecstatic.*  I no longer have to walk into the building to pay?  How can this be?  No more standing in a line with several other depressed looking people, none of which want to be there?  No more, prepaying for $10 of gas only to have the pump turn off at $8, requiring you to go back inside and stand in the line of sadness to try and explain it to the attendant for whom English was supposed to be a third language?  How can this be?  Suddenly what was guaranteed to take ten minutes or more, took only three or so.  For those of you afraid of math, that's an improvement of about 70%.  Improvements in efficiency such as that come around very seldom.**  Surely this Utopian dream couldn't be true!  Well, it was true, but it didn't last.  When pay at the pump started, it was a simple and quick 4 step process.  You pulled up.  You slid your credit card into the machine.  You pumped your gas.  You left.***  But this blissfully simple experience has gotten perverted.  Now it is more like a 20 step process.  You pull up.  You select the grade of gas.  You slide your credit card into the machine.  You answer several questions about your life, such as: what's your zip code?  What's your PIN number?  How many dwarves were there in Snow White?  What's the carrying capacity of an African Swallow? Do you want a receipt?  Assuming you answer these correctly you may begin pumping your gas and moving on to the later steps.  I don't want to answer questions.  I don't want to "interact" with anyone or anything.  I just want to fill my tank as quickly as possible and go.  One time on a late night trip back from some other state (possibly Virginia), I pulled up to the dark and lonely pump and got out.  While fishing my debit card out of my wallet, suddenly a voice boomed out from behind me, "Welcome to the East of Nowhere Gas Station."  I promptly wet my pants while it went on to suggest I go inside and purchase a beverage or a doughnut or a small caliber weapon.  What happened to the simple and wonderful pay at the pump experience?  I thought you understood when you invented this thing that I don't want to go inside.  I will gladly suffer the nineteen promotional signs you've now plastered around the pump with enticing pictures of doughnuts and other tasty treats, but please don't talk to me!  At another station I visit once**** they had installed TV's at every pump and they played commercials for you while you were pumping you gas.  What!?  I suspect soon you will need to give blood or take a Spanish test to get the pumps working.  Then they'll introduce a new, quicker and more convenient method of paying.  They'll call it, "Pay at the counter."

Pay at the Pump (when introduced): A+
Pay at the Pump (now): A-

* - Okay, maybe ecstatic is overstating it a bit, but I was happy.
** - Meaning never.
*** - Leaving the unwanted receipt flapping on the side of the pump like a flag.
**** - And only once.

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