Tuesday July 22, 2014


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Princess at the pumps

On A Brighter Note

Twelve years ago I lived in Richmond, BC, where all the gas stations were full serve and I couldn’t pump my own fuel even if I wanted to. It was perfect, because I certainly had no desire to do so, but in the fall of 2000 I moved to the Okanagan and that all changed.

“Your completely self serve?” I asked a cashier in horror after filling my own tank on a cold, windy day.

“Yup,” she said dismissively. “There aren’t any full serve stations around here, Princess.”

Turns out, that wasn’t exactly true. I didn’t realize that, though, until just this year.

“Hello?” I said suspiciously when a man in a uniform approached me at Super Save Gas a few months ago.

“What can I get for you ma’am?” he asked smiling as we both stood awkwardly beside my car.

“What can you get for me?” I replied, confused with his question.

“Would you like a fill up?” he asked. “Regular?”

“This is full serve?” I asked in shock. “Seriously?”

After finding out they’d been in business for almost 30 years and were full serve that entire time I looked at their road sign and there it was: WE SERVE. How had I not noticed this before?

“‘SUPER SAVE GAS’ is huge and ‘WE SERVE’ is tiny,” I said, trying to justify my lame observation skills. “I would have been coming here the last 12 years if I’d known.”

Joyfully I got back in the car as my fuel was pumped and my windows were washed. Good old fashioned service – ah.

Attempting to calculate in my head a weekly $60 fill-up multiplied by 12 years, my brain began to throb. To honour my relaxed state, I grabbed my calculator and figured out how much money I could have spent at this station had I known they existed all that time: $37,440.

“You need to get your ‘WE SERVE’ sign way bigger and in flashing lights,” I said, handing the attendant a tip. “If there are other people like me around, it will be well worth the investment.”

Later that day I posted on Facebook a picture of my new favourite gas station which was not only in the town that I lived, but close to my house and near the grocery store where I shopped.

The fact that I just discovered this gem for the first time after a dozen years was ridiculous to some and a revelation to others.

“I had no idea there was a full serve station here in West Kelowna!” one of my Facebook friends said excitedly after reading my post.

“You’re a natural blonde aren’t you?” asked another friend sarcastically. Someone else called me lazy.

I didn’t care. I was just happy that I didn’t have to pump my own gas anymore and I wanted everyone around me to know they didn’t have to either.

Of course, some people said they’d rather do it themselves. People like my husband.

These are often the same folks who don’t mind checking in their own luggage at the airport, booking their own vacations online or scanning and bagging their own groceries at the supermarket.

I despise doing all of those things and not just because I’m lazy. I like dealing with real people rather than the isolated feeling of always interacting alone with a machine. I dislike that many service jobs have been cut in recent years with their duties being heaped onto the consumer, often at no extra savings.

If I have a choice between two businesses and one can provide service with a smile, that’s where I’ll spend my money. Smiles might be free, but they’re worth a whole lot to a princess like me.



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