Not like in New Jersey today. Where – by law – you ‘re forced to wait for a lout (whoops, “attendant”) to slouch on over and eventually gas up your car … and usually, your fender, too.
He takes his time, doesn’t care whether your time matters.
And you definitely do not get a set of drinking glasses for the kids.
Full service – back in the day – was different.
You chose to pay a little extra and for that you got royal treatment.
Usually, from an eager teenager who would come right out as soon as you pulled in. You’d tell him to “fill ‘er up” and he’d get right to it, washing your windshield and checking your oil in between. He’d usually ask to check your oil and tires, too.
As a reward for your business, the station would give you a gift, too. Drinking glasses with the station’s logo, for example.
Like boarding an airplane without being groped by a government goon (and being greeted by a pretty female stewardess) this business is almost inconceivable to people not old enough to remember. But it was real, I assure you.
And it might be real again.
Well, full-service fill-ups at least.
With a difference.
And this time, the gas comes to you.
Like pizza or any other thing you can order up.
It’s a capital idea. A time-saving idea.
You’re late for work, but your car is running low. You’ve got just enough fuel left to make it there – but probably not enough to make it back home after work. This means having to stop and get gas on the way home. Assuming you’ve got enough gas left in the tank to make it to the station. If you don’t, you’re pretty much forced to stop on the way to work – and be late for work.
Cue the full service fill-up app.
Filld, Yoshi, Booster Fuels and Purple. These are some of the start-up fuel-delivery services that are operating in cities like LA and San Francisco, Atlanta and Nashville. You click the app and the fuel truck comes to you.
In San Francisco, Hose Hero Jonathan Baxter of the SF Fire Department publicly urged anyone who witnesses a mobile fuel truck dispensing gas to send in the clowns – i.e., call the Hose Heroes (which will mean calling the other Heroes) – who will rush to the scene, sirens blaring (and guns soon too be drawn).
“It is not permitted,” decrees Lt. Baxter.
In the SF Bay Area, Booster Fuels ceased fuel deliveries because the Santa Clara Hose Heroes applied pressure. The same looks to be happening in LA. Delivering fuel is verboten, says LA Hose Hero Daniel Curry.
But why should it be?
It is routine to bring propane to people’s homes and businesses. Chaos – and conflagrations – have not ensued.
Propane is transported under pressure, too – whereas gasoline is inherently safer to transport and dispense because it is a liquid at atmospheric pressure.
A small leak in a propane truck, on the other hand, is a big problem.
But the essential point is that the private companies that deliver propane – inherently more challenging to handle – manage to do so without incident. When was the last time you heard about a propane truck blowing up? It seems reasonable on the face of it that gasoline trucks present even less of a risk. In both cases, the companies delivering the fuel have a very strong incentive to be careful. Why is the assumption always that – absent Uncle – things will be run in a slipshod manner? What is the evidence for the beneficent role of Uncle? (He’s done such a good job with the FDA… )
The real objection – sub rosa – is that gas-delivery services would be more efficient and put economic pressure on the existing business model – gas stations that don’t come to you – to either improve their service or lower their costs. It is of a piece with the hue and cry over Uber, which annoys the Taxi Cartel by providing more efficient (and lower cost) ride services.
But the cartels won’t say that – at least not openly.
Instead they will bleat about… saaaaaafety.
In order that political pressure be applied to protect their interests.
It is not saaaaaafe to let just anyone pick people up and drive them to their destination. Something might happen! The driver’s aren’t “certified” and “trained.” There must be licenses, procedures… and of course, fees.
Which is understandable – in the same way that the cable TV mafia hates Apple TV and Roku. A gas station represents a considerable investment in facilities and equipment – and it can’t be picked up and moved somewhere else. No one likes to see someone else eat their proverbial lunch.
But the relevant issue here is the gas station owners aren’t entitled to that lunch.
They have every right to offer their services – gasoline and other things, too. But they do not have the right to use Uncle to force us to patronize their business by shutting down less expensive or more convenient alternatives like the infant fuel-delivery services that are trying to make a go of it.
The right response would be to offer things that the fuel delivery services can’t – like full service. There was a time when gas stations had a mechanic on duty and stocked needful things like tires and radiator hoses and windshield wiper blades. And would install these things for you.
Side benefit: This would provide jobs – real ones – as opposed to the government-mandated sort.
Back in the day, when full-service stations were common, countless teenagers earned money working part-time after school and weekends at a filin’ station.
Today, they play GTA.
Chiefly, because Uncle.
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