Service With a Smile!

275373758881db4e5a7e584b4ddf8335It was the 1970s. I’d just completed my B.A. in Theatre Arts, so naturally all the big corporations were looking to hire me. Yeah, right. Hence, I was delighted when I found the cheapest gas around at a Texaco station just blocks away.

Behold: the era of the service station! Not only was the gas cheap (25 cents a gallon!), but it was pumped by a guy in a spiffy bow tie who also washed your windows and checked your oil! My station even had a loyal customer point system–with prizes on display. Before long, I’d acquired a shiny new toaster!

Why the smiley overkill? In a word: money. Sure, there was a bit of residual old-style gentility, but the real reason was that gas stations back then were fronts for auto shops. And that, not the gas, was where they made their money. The more they checked your car, the more they could find things to fix. “Oops, those tires are looking a mite bald, sir. I can put a brand new set of Firestones on there for you today!” “Engine’s running a smidge rough, m’am. Better have us rebuild the entire engine for ya before it blows a head gasket!”

And then the oil crisis struck! Suddenly service stations became gas stations. People waited…and waited…and waited…just for the privilege of buying gas–when it was “their day,” that is (odd or even license plate number). Overnight new pumps were installed displaying three digits because–inconceivably–gas had soared to more than a dollar a gallon! And service guys  in bow ties?–or, heck, even station owner’s nephews in tie-dyed tees recovering from doobies they’d just toked out back–pumping your gas? Gone.

We had to pump our own gas now! After waiting, that is. If only there were simulated coffee from robotic brewing machines or those yummy little factory-assembled pastries to nibble while we waited. That was when the auto shops disappeared and the mini-marts appeared. Because one thing hasn’t changed–for good or for bad–

It’s still about the money.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Culture, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Service With a Smile!

  1. Eliza Ayres says:

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another Joe says:

    Nice little wander back to the days of my misspent youth…thanks. Some day we can talk about why gas station owners had to up sell to an oil change or spring tune up but that’s for another day.
    Oh, and the engine rebuild was more a car dealer’s rip… free service but, gee Mrs. Smith, I can’t let it off the hoist with those brakes and that tranny…just not safe….sign here if you ever want to see your Dodge Dart again….
    Ah, the good old days, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. revruss1220 says:

    Ah yes. I remember those days well. For folks who want to engage in a bit of nostalgia, the states of Oregon and New Jersey still require that your gas be pumped by an attendant rather than trusting you to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. pkadams says:

    Don’t you mean the ‘oil crisis’ wink wink? We all know that crisis was a way of raising gas prices forever. Oh well, oil men gotta eat too, right? Steak, lots of steak.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. People never believe me when I say that gas was so low when I started driving, you could get 3 gallons & they’d hand you change from a dollar bill. Them were the days…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. allenrizzi says:

    I also graduated in 1970 (the first time). Self serve gas went by the way in Oregon chiefly because some idiot was smoking a cigarette while pumping gas – Poof!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yep, then and now, it’s all about the Benjamins.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    When air was free!
    I would go down to one of our few stations and watch them fix a tire.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. thedamari says:

    I remember being in the car with my dad when it was our day to get gas, and inching forward through the line that stretched down the block. Since he didn’t believing in cussing, I learned all the euphemistic substitutions.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall says:

    Ah, memories of pooling all our loose change so we could drive to the beach.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So nice Mitch! 💕☕️☕️🍂

    Liked by 1 person

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