Saturday, July 05, 2008

Full Service

When I was a little girl, my mom drove a gold, four-door Oldsmobile that we fondly called Frank. Every time Frank needed a fill up, my mom would pull into the full service pump at the Amoco on Chippewa, a few blocks from our house, and some young kid would bounce out of the station, fill up her tank, wash her windows and check her oil.

In my preteen years, the Amoco was the station where all the cute boys in the neighborhood worked. My dad knew the owner of the Amoco who repaired our cars, changed our oil and rotated our tires himself. It was a seemingly old fashioned, small town setting in the middle of the big city.

Today, I went to fill up my Jeep Liberty all by myself. No help from cute boys in crisp white shirts with their names on the pockets... Just me. Standing at the pump, picking a flavor, and smelling like petrol when I was done. Just before I got in the car to leave, a little old lady approached me.

"Ma'am," she said, "I've never pumped gas before and I can't find a full service station anywhere. Will you help me?"

That simple request nearly brought me to tears. Of course I would help! Who wouldn't?

She went inside to pay and I stood by her car thinking about the situation. How frightening it must be to live in world that changes and grows technologically on a daily basis. How sad it must be to watch simple comforts and familiarity slip away.

I pumped her gas. She stuffed a dollar in my hand and thanked me over and over.

"No problem at all," I said as she climbed into her big gold sedan.

As she drove away, I thought of my mom. And now I can't stop thinking that they had it right. The full service stations and sit down diners... The person to person contact... Relationships with the owners of the small businesses in your neighborhood... Old fashioned worked and people were kinder to each other back then.

Technology is great. Speed & convenience work too. But I'd like to know my neighbors and maybe slow down a little. Maybe stop in at a full service station even... If I can find one.


Pancake Master said...

The Sinclair at Delmar & Hanley is still Full Service. I heard somewhere that it was the last one around town, but don't know if that's true or not.

In New Jersey and Oregon, it's apparently illegal for a person to pump his or her own gas.

Annie said...

There's a Sinclair at Hegee and Laclede that had a couple of full service pumps. In high school my boyfriend stopped there to fill up and he was going to teach me how (pathetic, I know) and it was full service and I got shoo-ed away by the attendant!