I was born, raised, and still live in New Jersey. I love my state for many reasons, including the fact that I don't have to pump my own gas. In fact, it's illegal in my state. So I stand in solidarity with those in Oregon who are bemoaning the fact that, as of the first of the year, it's now an option there.
To be fair, it's not as if on Jan. 1, every Oregonian suddenly had to figure out how to use a gas pump. Still, the new law says that customers can pump their own gas "only at stand-alone gas stations in counties with fewer than 40,000 residents," according to Forbes. The ban is still in effect at all other gas stations.
Some media outlets, however, seem to be having a field day finding Oregon residents who aren't happy about the new law. Like those who are afraid of getting gas on their clothes or "almost died" when they had to do it once in another state.
But I see many reasons why letting someone else to do the pumping is great, and none has anything to do with being scared or stupid.
1. You can stay with your kids in the car. Not all gas stations allow you to pay at the pump. Just last year I stopped at a gas station on my way to North Carolina (I'm not sure if it was in Virginia or North Carolina) and had to go into the mini-mart to pay.
When you have children who you have to unbuckle out of car seats and safely get them into the gas station store to pay (where there WILL be candy at their eye level), it's incredibly time-consuming and difficult. And you can't leave your small children in the car. Someone will call the cops, video them taking your kids from you and put it on Facebook.
2. It's very difficult for some people — like senior citizens and the disabled — to get out of the car and perform the function of pumping gas.
3. Gas station attendants probably appreciate having a job. Many jobs would be lost if Oregon or New Jersey gas stations went full self-service. (As it stands, the Oregon law was enacted — at least in part — to allow gas stations that are on long stretches of open road to operate even when no one is working.)
4. You interact with someone. As we become more and more automated, we are losing touch with other people. When I wrote about using the self-checkout line at the grocery store, someone made the point that "human interaction is still fundamentally important."
5. Staying in the car gives you time to put a location in your mapping system, check your email or return texts instead of doing it while driving. Those few minutes sitting in the driver's seat while someone else is pumping the gas may make the roads a little safer.
It's important to know how to pump gas even if you live where your gas is pumped for you. Unless you never leave your state, you're going to have to do it eventually. Because I love road trips, I end up pumping gas frequently.
When I take to the gas pump, I stand as far away from the nozzle as possible. The reason: The first time I filled up the car as a teenager, gas spilled on my shoes. Even though it has never happened again, I'm wary.
So I don't think those in Oregon who are worried about splashing gas on their new boots are needlessly concerned. I do hope they're smart enough not to have it happen twice.