Saturday, December 29, 2007

NJ Gas Pumping Safey

The transition to the new job was bittersweet - I'm going to miss the folks I worked with even as I look forward to the new challenges.  To celebrate the past/future job situation, Rebecca surprised me on my last day with a trip to New York to see Cyrano de Bergerac.  I'll try to write about that trip later, but the New Jersey gas pumping situation was so ironic that I felt compelled to write about it first.  

Now, we've driven to New York across the turnpike a few times and I've always found it strange that I couldn't pump my own gas.  So, this trip was no exception, we needed to fuel up on one of those service exits on the turnpike.  While I was waiting in line - and Becca retrieved the Starbucks - I notice this fine fellow helping out.  

Now, I'd seen him before walking around the line of cars, directing traffic etc.  By his actions and the clipboard in his hand I assume he must be some sort of supervisor - presumably responsible for the smooth operation and safety of the gas pumps.   Wait a minute, he's actually going to pump the gas too?  

What a good supervisor - helping out when things get really busy.

Now, I should pause a minute to give my understanding of the insanity that disallows people from pumping their own petrol.  I have assumed all along that it is for our own safety.  To protect us from ourselves.  I supposed perhaps it could be just to employ more people so I figured I'd look it up.  It turns out Yahoo Ask, agrees with me:
The ban on self-service gas stations is a highly combustible issue and makes for some heated debates. New Jersey passed the law making it illegal to pump your own gas in 1949. At the time, legislators felt it was too dangerous to have untrained people dispensing such a flammable liquid.
Having said all this, let's take a closer look at the photo:

Ok, not the best photograph, but you can probably tell  - it's a cigar.  To be fair to the gentleman, I never actually saw him smoke it.  Now each trip I live by the rules and let the clowns pump gas for me; making me feel about the same as I would in asking another man for directions.  I understand that I may not be the safest person at the gas pump - heck, I don't touch metal prior to grabbing the pump to remove the static electricity - but I can do much better than this apparent supervisor.  I'd really love to make a bold statement banning New Jersey from my future travel plans on principle but, unfortunately, it's the only reasonable way to get from D.C. to N.Y. 

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