Friday Fact: What's the Story, Oregon?

For many reasons, Oregon is a really, really cool state.
I'd live there.

But there are two things that, in my mind, are slightly tweaky about the brave state of Oregon. One is the strict (yet friendly) nature of their cops. The other is their full service gas stations.

I live in Utah, where the common consensus is that traveling 5 miles over the speed limit still qualifies as going the speed limit.

In Oregon, going one mile over the speed limit is breaking the law. If they post a 65mph speed limit sign, they really mean it! And if you are caught speeding in Oregon, there will be no warning for you. Your strict-yet-friendly Oregon ever-lovin' law-enforcin' officer will issue you a ticket; and for the exact amount your infraction owes (right, Mikelle?). Leniency Shmeniency.

Unless you're Lizzie - who I think did manage to get off ticket free, once. But that doesn't count because that's one of her super powers. Also - it may have been Idaho.

Oregonians expect their laws to be followed precisely. This makes me think that their citizens must be the stand-up sort. None of this wishy-washy 'spirit of the law' business for them, no sir! And have you noticed? their roads are cleaner. Their officer's uniforms are crisper. Their sunsets are pinker.

I admire this. It also freaks me out.

I get tense while traveling from one state line to the other, and when I cross the border on the Idaho, California or the Washington side, I usually start panting because I realize I'd been holding my breath through the entire state. Which is too bad, 'cause in Oregon, the air is more exactly and atomically O than it is elsewhere.

But the non-lenient nature of the friendly Oregon cop is not the only anomaly experienced when traveling through.

Oregon is one of only two states in this beautiful country that still offers full service gas stations to all its gas buying patrons.

No, not offers. Insists. As in - it's the law. You are barred from pumping your own gas in Oregon. The gas station attendant does it for you.

Some people hate it - they like to do it themselves and would rather not pay the additional tax. Some people love it - and feel treated and pampered, and consider it a nod to past years when such customer-oriented service was not such an exception.

But the real question come? Why remove the option and enforce it as a matter of law?

Which brings us to todays...

FRIDAY FACT: What's the Story, Oregon?

First, some terminology clarification.
  • Full Service: The attendant - known as the Gas Jockey - appears with a smile and a whistle. Call's you 'ma'am' and 'sir' as he fills her up, washes her windows, checks her oil, the air in her tires, makes charming conversation etc. etc. They still sing country songs about this kind of service.
  • Minimum Service: The Gas Jockey fills her up. Charmingness a bonus.
  • Self Service: Get out of your car and do it yourself, you lazy bum! 
Before the 1970's, all gas stations were full service. Self service existed, but was rare. Then came the platform shoes and Disco, and things shifted from full service to minimum service to mostly self service. Today, full service stations are only common in wealthy and upscale areas.

And the entire state of Oregon.

They cite many reasons for keeping their full- and mini-service status:
  • safety (dealing with highly flammable liquid)
  • the number of jobs the service provides
  • reduction in crime (because customers don't leave their car)
  • lower insurance premiums
  • motorists spared the inconvenience of getting out of their car in inclement weather
  • kinder to the elderly and disabled
  • something or other to do with taxes. 

When standing on their own, these arguments are muddy at best. What it really boils down to, in my opinion, is that it's a part of their culture. They like it. It's one of the things that sets them apart from the other 48 states (New Jersey being the other state that enforces the full-service pumps).

Oregon has even tried passing a bill or two to convert to self-service pumps. Each time, voters killed the bill. 

The culture of the community likes being treated to a full service pump, and they like offering that service to passers-through. Come to our state, they say, and remember what it was like back in the day when the term 'service' carried some weight.

Come to our state and enjoy our service. Like it or not.

Now the question is: if full service is required by law, do you still tip your Gas Jockey?


sharon. said...

We really want to live in Oregon. Or Vancouver. Equally beautiful.

Jack Brummet said...

Hi Stepper! Now I've been to your blog a couple of times too... I like!

Nae said...

I had NO idea! I sure wouldn't mind going to a full service station at least once before I die.

Kel said...

Dude. You have just unleashed a gale force of tragic Oregon memories. And, yes, among them you'll find a speeding ticket. But mostly, someone ate all of my food from Costco and never helped pay for it!!! ;) (And I'm not talking about Stepper.) Also, if I recall correctly, the Oregon judicial system was MUCH friendlier than the traffic enforcement and chopped my fee right in half. Go team JUSTICE!