It used to be you drove up to the pump and gassed up your car.
The procedure was simple, involving an empty gas tank, a pump, and cash. You watched the meter whizzing through the numbers and slowed the flow when you neared a total cost matching that of the bill in your wallet (usually a ten or twenty). Then you walked up to the dirty office to hand over your payment. That was it. Maybe you washed your windshield, or bought a Coke, but gas-wise you were done.
These days, thanks to technological advancements, gassing up your vehicle isn't so easy. Removing the human element from the gas-purchasing transaction should simplify the process. It doesn't.
For example, no self-respecting human being would be comfortable forcing you to play a game of twenty questions before allowing you to make a simple purchase, but a fully-automated electronic gas pump programmed to glean as much information out of you as possible doesn't mind making you jump through hoops like a trained monkey. It begins inconspicuously.
"PLEASE SWIPE CARD."
"CREDIT OR DEBIT?"
I press the button for credit card.
"ENTER ZIP CODE."
I wonder why this is necessary and do it anyway.
"DELUXE CAR WASH?"
"FUEL INJECTION CLEANER ADDITIVE?"
Of course not.
"DISTANCE PLUS MILEAGE BOOSTER ADDITIVE?"
"DONATE $1 TO FOOD BANK?"
"HOT DOG, DRINK & CHIPS FOR $2.99?"
"ENTER REAL WEIGHT."
"YOUR SESSION HAS TIMED OUT. PLEASE SWIPE CARD."
At this point, I give the pump a swift kick and start trying to figure out how long it would take me to bicycle from Raleigh to Baltimore to visit my clients.
© 2013 Mark Feggeler