Oregonians Are Freaking Out about Pumping Their Own Gas ""

By | January 3, 2018

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Shell gas pump - self-serve

Some motorists in Oregon, for the first time ever, may be allowed to pump their own gas. And it seems the liberation is a bit much.

According to various reports in recent days, both gas stations and customers are reluctant to embrace the newfangled freedom and great responsibility inherent in operating a pump dispensing a flammable liquid. Drivers have admitted not knowing how to pump their own gas—even though a law has allowed some nighttime self-service pumping in the state since 2015 and, well, 48 other states in the nation do just fine pumping their own.

Of course, the internet has exploded with comments in the vein of: Will my hands smell like gasoline all day? Will I have to make small talk by the pump? Do I need to get my kids/pets out of the car while fueling? What if my chest hair melts? What if, like in Zoolander, a glee-filled, gas-spraying fun time turns into an inferno? 

Indeed, the worried comments and sarcastic replies to a post on the Facebook page of Medford, Oregon, TV station KTVL make for good reading:

The state is one of just two—New Jersey is the other—that require full-service gas stations. In Oregon up until now, where the state has at least in the past pointed to the jobs the requirement provides, getting out and pumping your own gas can make you subject to a fine. (Unless you have a car you care about and can convince the attendant to stay out of the transaction—but you didn’t hear that from our Portland bureau.)

In all fairness, the counties given this newfound freedom are very rural. What enables the self-service is a new law passed by the state legislature last year allowing counties with fewer than 40,000 residents to pump their own. Most of Oregon, it turns out, is extremely rural, and that includes exactly half of the state’s 36 counties—counties in which pumping one’s own fuel for farm equipment has long been allowed.

Still, letting people have a go at those pumps is against the ground rules at most stations. As C/D verified, not even the Costco in Warrenton, Oregon—in one of the affected counties—is letting people pump their own yet or even planning to do so. As one outlet this week adeptly framed it, it’s a case of the internet trolling Oregon. And perhaps a reminder that Portlandia’s truth extends further than you might think.

For any Oregonians reading this who are new to the whole thing, our friends at Road & Track have published a handy how-to guide to pumping your own. Don’t worry, self-service is exactly as complicated as you think.

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