Oregon Gas Pumping Law

Oregon Gas Pumping Law

Subtle Introduction

Early one morning during our first week in Bend, I stopped for gas at a Sinclair on the North end of town. As I opened my door to get it done, I was startled by the sudden appearance of a raggedy, bearded man at my window asking for my credit card. He wore a crumpled gas station shirt over his street clothes which were also heavily soiled by dust and oil. He reminded me of a crazy hair Robyn Williams without any teeth.
I looked around the station for any indication this was normal and saw another homeless looking person in a different style crumply uniform, reaching in a driver's window for her credit card too.
"Gainst da law da pump yer gas, mame," he warned. Only it came out more like 'Gindalo da-bump ya-gath mame' ...on account of the teeth. So I slowly handed him my card, wide awake for the moment he and his partner bolted from the station with two loaded credit cards. "What's that all about?" I asked. He leaned his face right down into the window and shrugged. "Hafta head over da borda if ya wanna pump yer gath." His blue eyes delighted at his own humor. "Just somethin' people up at the capital thought of." He started the gas pump and began washing my front window.

Days Gone By

Suddenly I was in a time warp. How long had it been since I'd visited a full service gas station? Back in the days before seatbelts... I remember pulling up to the service station curled up in the back window, kids lying on the floor or sliding across the slick vinyl benchseat as the family car spun into position at a free pump.
Remember a little later in the 70's when you got the choice to pay a few cents less per gallon at the "self service" pumps out by the street? And now it's all expressionless, "pump it yourself". This was cool! "Whoa," I said, making light conversation with the man. "Do you remember the days when you'd pull up to a gas station and hear your Mom or Dad say, "Filler Up with Ethel, Lloyd." Somehow the parentals always knew the name of the guy at the station. And I don't know what else was on the menu, but Mom always ordered up the '"Ethel."
In 3 minutes I liked this guy and wanted to take him home with me. Was it his Robyn Williams-ness that drew me in or the neatnik in me that wanted to help clean him up? Here's a snapshot I snagged through the open window.
oregon gas pumping law

Still on the books...

Ask around the State and you'll find, "strue!" Since 1951 it's been against state law to pump your own gas in Oregon, ...every inch of it. The statute gives 17 justifications for the self-serve ban. They run the gamut from protecting small children left in cars, preventing spills, or people blowing up the gas station, to keeping older drivers from "unreasonable discomfort."But the justification that's cited most often is that the law creates jobs...jobs for people like Lloyd here. With state unemployment at 10% right now, it's a good thing. Or Lloyd may be driven to work as a stunt double for the silverscreen.
So when you come up to visit us and need a fillup with petrol, just sit back and relax. You gotta relax when you pull up to a gas station. And let full service begin!
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Oregon Gas Pumping Law

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