Sunday, January 12, 2014

All I Need Is Gas

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."

   I do.

   "CREDIT OR DEBIT?"

   I press the button for credit card.

   "ENTER ZIP CODE."

   I wonder why this is necessary and do it anyway.

   "CAR WASH?"

   Yes.

   "DELUXE CAR WASH?"

   No.

   "FUEL INJECTION CLEANER ADDITIVE?"

   Of course not.

   "DISTANCE PLUS MILEAGE BOOSTER ADDITIVE?"

   Huh?

   "DONATE $1 TO FOOD BANK?"

   No.

   "HOT DOG, DRINK & CHIPS FOR $2.99?"

   Not hungry.

   "ENTER WEIGHT."

   One-eighty-five.

   "ENTER  REAL WEIGHT."

   Hey now!

   "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

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