Wow, Pumping Gas Really Pumps Up The People

Here’s the deal: I wrote an eight-word post on our local Facebook group, which induced another Corvallis People mayday. It said…

“I just want to pump my own gas.”

Pause. You may have just had an instant reaction. An opinion you’d like to – perhaps aggressively – share.

My post generated 450-plus comments and replies. It became clear to me early on that I’d bit off more than I could chew. I knew pumping gas was a relevant issue in Oregon, and I partly wanted to stir the pot, but my true intention was to observe the age groups of those responding both positively and negatively. 

My reaction to their reactions: significantly disheartened. It wasn’t the insults or the commands to “move” that left me feeling this way. Unfortunately, I anticipated this. It was the obvious lack of self-reflection – the logical misguidedness – that made me feel hollow. 

“I would prefer letting other people have jobs. So I can sit in my nice warm car,” reads one post. 

“Not having to pump gas is great! Liberating,” reads another.

One more reads, “I am grateful for those standing in the freezing winds and rain pumping my gas while I stay warm and dry in my car. I don’t relate to those who WANT to pump their own gas. Why?”

Alright, an obvious time for reflection.

Jobs are great, we can all agree. Having others do things for you – depending on the circumstances – can be extremely helpful and rewarding. In this instance, I personally prefer pumping my own gas, rather than passing off the task. But that’s all beside the point.

These Corvallis people, and similar posters, seem to be guising comfort and convenience as gratitude and compassion when making their defense. They’re using the “luxury” of being serviced as a platform for job security and commendation. 

This type of logic is framed in the gas ban itself, which proposes to concentrate the exposure of dangerous toxic fumes to attendants, for the sake and safety of the majority. I find this discourse, frankly, incredibly degrading. Though gas-pump technology has been updated, the law hasn’t, and it’s still flawed logically as a result.

But don’t let me be the judge. I’m not a gas attendant, and I certainly don’t intend to speak on their behalf. I do know how to pump my own gas, and prefer it that way. I also want there to be jobs, but jobs change.

Still, I want to urge us all to really think about what we’re going to say. To consider all the sides, be fair, be useful, and ingest others’ comments and opinions thoughtfully, before spewing our own. 

P.S. None of my fellow Advocate editors knew about the post; I did it on my own, with only personal curiosity as my motivator. 

By Nick Stollings