Oregon residents are freaking out about having to pump their own gas, and America needed this

Gas retailers in small counties can have self-service gas pumps — but Oregon residents can't handle it

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 4, 2018 8:55AM (EST)

     (<a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-438058p1.html'>pio3</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>/Salon)
(pio3 via Shutterstock/Salon)

This was definitely the levity that we needed to kick off 2018.

Back in May, Oregon passed a little law known as House Bill 2482, which allowed gas stations in counties with populations of less than 40,000 — roughly half of those in the state — to offer self-serve gas pumps in addition to the full-service pumps that come with an attendant. It does not require all gas stations to have self-service pumps throughout the day and still mandates that gas stations with convenience stores need to have attendants during business hours.

However, based on the hysterical reaction from some Oregonians, one would think that gas station attendants had been outlawed, leaving residents of Oregon at the mercy of a "Mad Max" level hellscape in which brutal weather conditions and vicious criminals lurk at every gas station, exulting that the superhero gas station attendants are no longer there to keep them at bay. Those fears were captured on this Facebook post from the CBS news affiliate KTVL.

"No! Disabled, seniors, people with young children in the car need help. Not to mention getting out of your car with transients around and not feeling safe too. This is a very bad idea. Grrr," posted one Facebook user.

Another wrote, "Not a good idea, there are lots of reason to have an attendant helping, one is they need a job too. Many people are not capable of knowing how to pump gas and the hazards of not doing it correctly. Besides I don't want to go to work smelling of gas when I get it on my hands or clothes. I agree Very bad idea."

A third claimed, "I'm in Colorado where we are forced to pump our own gas. Because I'm worried about my children being left in the car while I stand outside of it in my skirt, I just pay the transients to pump it for me. This way we're all safe and the transients are distracted from bothering those who are pumping their own gas."

Finally there was one man, who wrote: "I've lived in this state all my life and I REFUSE to pump my own gas. I had to do it once in California while visiting my brother and almost died doing it. This a service only qualified people should perform. I will literally park at the pump and wait until someone pumps my gas. I can't even"

It is worth reiterating that (a) the law does not outlaw gas station attendants and, by requiring gas stations with convenience stores to employ attendants during business hours, means that few if any will lose their jobs because of this law and (b) the only other state that requires gas stations to have attendants is New Jersey, meaning the other 48 states have done just fine after allowing certain gas stations to only offer self-pumping.

To absolutely no one's surprise, Twitter users jumped all over this story.

To be fair to Oregon: Although these message boards seem to have blown up with outrage, most of the ire is directed against the handful of people who are in a tizzy about needing to pump their own gas, rather than against the law itself. Human beings can be ridiculous, but on this occasion there probably aren't quite as many as the rest of the internet fears.

Doesn't make the story any less hilarious, though.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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